Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Awaken -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 3, Some Thoughts on Why I Took the Challenge, and Show Updates

Dancing Tulip V
Watercolor on Richeson Zoltan Szabo #140 Cold Press paper, 9"h x 6"w, 2013 #54

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $ 65) 

Day 3 of the challenge! I am still alive! When taking on this daunting challenge (again!) I was hoping that it could help me wrap up some difficult projects that has been lingering in my studio for way too long. So far it has been good -- I've managed to make paced progress on a few of such projects. In the mean time, I have also realized that the reason these project have been lingering without much progress is that I have been more or less stuck on one point of them or another. In other words, I've been having difficulties doing "finishes".

Finishes are hard... Starts are hard in a different way: that mental pressure of facing a blank piece of paper... But there would be a stage after overcoming the initial fear, that we (as artists) gradually let the piece sink in our mind, feeling really "at one" with it, and this middle stage is comfortable. Often, we (ok, at least I...) let this stage extend too long, subconsciously procrastinating on the difficult work of "finishing it up".

Why? Because finishing means you have to seriously look at the work in progress with critical eyes, and ask yourself: does this piece look like a coherent unit? Is there anything that stands out like a sour thumb? Can I adjust anything to add to it? If I add a stroke here, would it make the whole piece better, or is it just fiddling? You may have to stand back and try to evaluate from ten feet away, to see if the larger value pattern makes sense. You may have to look at it right under your nose, and decide whether any area is too empty therefore in need of a mark, a textural interest, a subtle color change... You may have to go back and fourth several times, until losing fresh sight of the entire process and cannot go on any more... Yet you are still not sure whether it is done finally!

It is mentally tiring. It is a lot of work. But learning how to finish is also a critical lesson of learning to be an artist. And I'm glad that I am now forced to do it every day because of this challenge. 

Maybe this is one of the real reasons why I took on this challenge again... How about you? What attracted you to it, my artist friend?

On a different note... I almost forgot to mention: I have an art fair coming up this weekend! It is organized by Silicon Valley Open Studio and as an artist participating in the open studio events, I was juried into this exhibition at Jennings Pavilion of Holbrook-Palmer Park, located at 150 Watkins Avenue, Atherton, CA. The show runs on Friday September 6, from 5 pm until 8 pm, and on Saturday September 7, from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission is Free! Painters, sculptures, watercolorists, and photographers, along with others will display and sell their latest (and finest) work. I will have two 6'x 4' panels to hang my framed watercolor paintings, as well as a 4' table to display smaller pieces. If you have time, please also join me on Friday evening for a reception and a chance to meet the artists participating in the exhibit and discuss their work. You can enjoy the refreshments and cast your ballot for the "People's Choice Award". When you are there, please do pay a visit both to the main exhibit in the Jennings Pavilion as well as to the Highlight Gallery Exhibit in adjacent Palmer House -- the print of "High Summer Dreams II" will be showing there as a selected piece by the juror, Claire Verbiest. Looking forward to see you at the exhibition, my friends!

You can now buy high quality Giclee prints of many of my sold paintings, both on paper and canvas, as well as some note cards with my paintings here:


  1. Hi Arena,

    Gorgeous florals--may I ask your palette for your iris painting? And did you mask that? It's so fresh and clean! Thanks and happy challenge painting! Aimee

  2. Hi Aimee,

    I used Winsor Newton Cobalt Blue, Richeson Stephen Quiller Quin Rose and Quin Magenta, Winsor Violet and a little bit Daniel Smith Hematite for the Iris flower, and for the background I used Winsor Newton Sap Green and Hooker's Green, Hematite, Ivory Black, Alizarin, Prussian Blue, Winsor Green and Quin Burnt Sienna from Daniel Smith.

    I was practicing not using masking for a couple of years, so it is not masked. Instead, I pre-wet sections of the background area up to the edge of the flower, and carefully dropped in thicker and thicker pigment until the surface is almost dry. I repeat this process for 2-3 times to get very rich darks, and the water on the surface prevent dropped-in pigment to not get into areas that are reserved dry. It require a little bit of patience, but I was frustrated with whatever masking I use taking my pencil line off the surface after I removing the masking, even after I fix the lines with fixative! Also, some of my Arches paper roughened up after removing masking, and the surface became very unpleasant to paint on. I am yet to find out about the cause to avoid this from happening again, but it make me a little hesitant to mask off large spans of areas...


Thank you so much for taking time visiting and commenting on my blog! Your feedback and encouragements are things that keep me going with I am feeling down or frustrated... I will try my best to reply to every comment ASAP but sometimes life gets in the way and I am a bit slow in my response. I would like to apologize if that happens...

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