Thursday, September 26, 2013

Zen... Imprinted -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 25 (Something A Little Different...)


Zen Imprinted I
Hand-Carved Stamp with Ink on Nujabi Handmade Watercolor Paper, 6"h x 8"w, 2013 #75

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $20) 

Today I had a really great night with some etsy friends -- I carved my first set of stamps and got a little crazy with line and shapes. It was so much fun -- the printed image almost never come out exactly as the drawn design on the stamp, but the unpredictability makes the process just all the more intriguing. I have some handmade Japanese paper and I think I will give those a try next time... For now, I think these little cropped designs would look great in a double mat, as they are really decorative! :-)



Zen Imprinted II
Hand-Carved Stamp with Ink on Nujabi Handmade Watercolor Paper, 6"h x 8"w, 2013 #76

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $20) 

Today I also received very good advice from my artist Friend Kim Stenberg and decide to do this -- if you have an image of a beautiful landscape, or a flower you like, or anything you might want to see painted, please email them to me at arena.shawn@gmail.com. I will paint them and post them here. From every 10 paintings I make from them, there would be a random drawing, and the lucky winner get to take a original back home for free! Interested? Then send me your photo!

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:








Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rockies Sunset -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 24


Rockies Sunset, Watercolor on Arches #140 Rough Paper, 4"h x 6"w, 2013 #74

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $20) 

This little guy took way longer than I initially expected -- mostly to get the textural marks look right and not so contrived took quite a bit of practice on scrape sheets. I wanted to capture that last magical light of the day as it set the highest snowy peak on fire, and throwing the lower part of the mountain into deep, deep blue-green shadow. I love the dramatic quality of the light at such moment -- the warmth of the peak as it glows with yellow-orange hue, the cool sky behind it which is gradually sinking into quiet, somber night color, the strange sense of wonder, awe and anything is possible in the air... As I paint this one and "Moon Rise" (still in progress, hopefully will be done tomorrow), my heart was singing with the intoxicating high-mountain summer air I remembered when watching this magic happen -- a trip at the tail of summer to Colorado, a spontaneous camping trip into the Rockies, two days and two nights spent among the evergreens and aspens, watching glorious sunset and stars rising out of crystal black sky... It was then and there I start to understand why I love this country so much, and why despite of all the security and comfort it would provide, I could never persuade myself to hold onto a corporate job. Beyond everything in life I cherish this the most -- this sense of freedom and chance to be one with my surroundings, the most splendid creations called THE WILDERNESS. 

Born in an overcrowded nation I cherish this space to breathe and to be alone so much. Coming from a city of 30 million people, I know very clearly what luxury it is to be accompanied by no one else but the mountains. Somethings can never be forgotten once realized. Everyday, I count my blessings.

And you, my dear artists friends and collectors, you are helping me getting close to my dreams one step a day. Thank you. 

THANK YOU. 

(P.S.: Since this is a small piece I have actually painted to the edge of the paper, and if purchased it can be float-mounted, showcasing the deckled edge.)

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:









Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wild Growth III -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 23, and What One Do in Days of Frustration...


Wild Growth III,
 Watercolor on Winsor Newton #140 Cold Press paper, 5"h x 11"w, 2013 #73

Sold!


Today is a very frustrating day in the studio -- you occasionally (or perhaps like me, more than occasionally) get them and just about nothing seems to work. I started a couple of paintings only to wash three of them right off the hose, the new paper I tried is against everything I expect it to do, and all my drawings look unnatural and stiff... It's already late at night and I have nothing to show for today's work, while I have actually worked really, really hard for an entire day! 

In the end I decide to go back to the basics -- take a simple composition and just try to make interesting textural marks on the paper. I started three new and small pieces this way, not thinking about how to finish them, and just allow myself to play... Since there is no reference image, I just painted from my imagination, and perhaps from imagery have recently created or visited. The first one of these followed the pattern remembered from "Wild Growth II" and evolved into a field, the second one became a high mountain peak in sunset, and in the third one the sun has completely set behind the mountain, leaving only purple-grey sky and a faint orange glow. (I am still working on the other two so they will be shared in my post tomorrow.) By not concentrating on the process itself instead of on creating a piece of work that is "beautiful" to showcase on the challenge page, I was able to make something that I am happy about, again.

Perhaps this is a lesson I should have learned long ago, but still learning again and again everyday -- I am painting to enjoy the wonder of creation from heart as the foremost goal, not to compare to all the other wonderful artists out there. Sometimes, something small and unassuming is just what I need. Out of its simplicity lies what my heart is craving for on that particular day. Sometimes I do need to listen, more carefully...

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:







Monday, September 23, 2013

South Wind -- -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 22 (This One is Finished!!!)


South Wind Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 11"h x 15"w, 2013 #72

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $95) 

Today is a really productive day -- I finished two 11" x 15" sized paintings -- "South Wind" and "Stormy Weather", and almost finished "Under the Autumn Sky". Most time were spent designing the shapes of various trees, meadows, rocks, etc. in these paintings, as the shapes of these objects in the initial reference photos may well need to be altered to be made interesting. This is one of the things I consider as very difficult for landscape painting -- often you cannot simply put down what you see in front of you, not like still life and flower painting! It is certainly a brain-intensive day of painting...


Stormy Weather Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 11"h x 15"w, 2013 #71

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $125) 

This is the final version of "Stormy Weather" -- I was very happy with the negative painting of some of the light fir trees on the left side, as well as the calligraphy to suggest tree branches in the middle ground light colored tree shapes. I did quite a few negative paintings on this one, using the dark mountain shapes behind to set the edge of the middle ground tree that is being lid. The main point of exercise for this one is trying to depict dramatic lighting, and using brushwork to suggest mountain, tree and grass. I have certainly learned quite a bit designing those shapes...

Unfortunately, along with these good progress something really bad also happened -- I drove to the gallery today and discovered that one of my little landscape painting was stolen from the gallery. It was unframed, only matted and put in the "matted original" bin in the gallery, and it is nowhere to be found. I have left it in the gallery only a week ago after my "Meet the Artists Day" in Filoli, and now it's gone. I checked the sales records -- it was not sold; I checked everywhere in the gallery, and it was just nowhere to be found. It really saddens me to think anyone who likes my art to the extent of wanting to bring it back home would opt to not pay a mere $35 and choose to steal it. This just breaks my heart... I do not know whether I should feel sad or angry about such incident... Has it ever happened to you, my artists 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:





Sunday, September 22, 2013

Stormy Weather -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 21 (Sorry, WIP Again...)


Stormy Weather Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 11"h x 15"wWIP 2

I've been painting a lot of landscapes lately, and some of them are getting bigger than the usual size I work on. This one is not finished and now I have to try really hard not to wreck it! I've nervously stood in front of this painting putting on one stroke after another using a really big brush (the size of the paper is 11" x 15", which is not really big, but big for me) when it was changing from soaking wet to almost dry, and I think I've gained another level of understanding of wet water cycle on watercolor paper after this one! I am really excited about all the soft but definite edges I was able to achieve on it...

I feel very lazy comparing to all my friends out there who are really finishing a painting a day -- from tomorrow I will try to finish the piece I am working on again, and get the last two pieces finished! I promise... I think although this has been a great exercise of discipline, it does start to take a toll on me to paint non-stop from morning to late night for more than three weeks. Sometimes I swear that I literally feel my wrist is getting stiff! But, I do not want to be a whiner -- I just really admire those of you who, despite of all the other tasks and obligations in life, still manage to start and finish a painting in a day's time! Hang on friends, we are almost there!... ;-P


Stormy Weather Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 11"h x 15"w, WIP 3

This is what it has progressed to after more work last night and this morning. With three unfinished work going on in the same time, it was actually fairly easy to get a refreshed view switching back and forth between them. I think with a few details on the middle ground trees and some further refinement of the conifers on the left, it could be finished within a couple of hours. I will take extra caution not to get carried away adding those last details...


Stormy Weather Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 11"h x 15"w, 2013 #71

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $125) 

I think this piece is now finished -- I was very happy with the negative painting of some of the light fir trees on the left side, as well as the calligraphy to suggest tree branches in the middle ground light colored tree shapes. I did quite a few negative paintings on this one, using the dark mountain shapes behind to set the edge of the middle ground tree that is being lid. The main point of exercise for this one is trying to depict dramatic lighting, and using brushwork to suggest mountain, tree and grass. I have certainly learned quite a bit designing those shapes...

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:






Saturday, September 21, 2013

Under the Autumn Sky -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 20 (Almost Done...)


Under the Autumn Sky, 
Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico #140 Cold Press Paper , 9"h x 12"w, WIP 1

This one started plein air -- around the Alviso Slough. When I am working on the foreground marsh grass area, rain started drifting in. Since I am working on Fabriano paper which allows colors to be lifted easily, I decide to avoid the rain so that the darker tones I have already put in the foreground would not all lift with the drizzle. I may have to go back tomorrow to finish this one, or, I could refer to some of the nice reference images and notes I took from Sterling Edwards' workshop (he is a master for creating interesting foregrounds and design tree shapes) and finish it off in the comfort of my studio. I have not yet decided what to do about it -- again, sleeping on it may not be such a bad idea in situations like this... 


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:







Friday, September 20, 2013

Ancestor's Land -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 19


Ancestor's Land, 
Watercolor on Cartiera Magnani #140 Cold Press Paper , 7"h x 10"w, WIP 1

I don't think this one is quite... finished. It's missing something -- focus, maybe. I could rush and call it done tonight, but I really like the lonely atmosphere in it, and do not want to rush and ruin what I have on paper so far. Some paintings just cannot be rushed. They need proper time and contemplation. Sometimes you just have to sleep on it... (It's not an excuse for being lazy today, really...)



Ancestor's Land, 
Watercolor on Cartiera Magnani #140 Cold Press Paper , 7"h x 10"w, 2013 #69

Sold!


I think it is now finished. I am still not sure... I am happy that it does have the feeling of emptiness and loneliness that I often feel when walking in the red rock desert along Arizona-Utah border. I added the shrub and several birds circling in high sky to add to this feeling. But I think I still need to look at it for a couple of days to decide whether it is not in need of anything more...

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:








Thursday, September 19, 2013

Braving the Storm -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 18


Braving the Storm, 
Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico #140 Cold Press Paper , 5"h x 7"w, 2013 #69

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $30) 

I've not painted many boats -- don't get me wrong, I really love them. Living on the coast and literally less than three miles away from the ocean, I almost come across them on a daily basis -- from gigantic ocean liners to tiny speed boats. But what impresses me most are the elegant sail boats that one is guaranteed to spot on a good sunny day in the San Francisco Bay, their smooth curved body braving the green-blue waves, their white sails catching east wind, zipping by at lightening speed. With the American Cup underway now in San Francisco, top-of-the-line sail boats from all over the world are accumulated in the bay waters, truly a treat for the eyes of those who love this gentlemen's sport. It's really about time for me to tackle this subject!

The idea of this painting comes from a stroll along Crissy Field (part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area), while all of a sudden the wind just started to blow and these huge, threatening dark clouds gathered from all directions. It seemed that a down-pour is about to happen at any moment. Suddenly a light-color zipped into my field of vision -- a sail boat catching the strong wind and flying on the water, seemingly oblivious of the coming storm, instead just enjoying the strong push from the wind that is blowing harder and harder every minute. It was just the blink of an eye before it disappeared into the distance, and I could not get out of my camera in time to snap a picture, but that imaged was carved into my memory, and recalled out today.

A lot of times, when we really looked, our minds are better than the best camera -- it filters and chips away the non-essential, and what's left is the most important and what attracts us to the subject at first.

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:









Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beachcombers -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 17


Beachcombers at Linda Mar, Pacifica, 
Watercolor on Arches #140 Rough Paper , 6"h x 8"w, 2013 #68

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $35) 

I had a fabulous day enjoying the brilliant summer light, cool ocean air and roaring breaking surf at Linda Mar beach of Pacifica -- I went out painting plein air again!!! (I cannot believe that I don't do this often enough, as it was such a great experience every time I do it. Maybe I should just set a schedule for myself, like "go out and paint plein air every Friday morning at 6:30", so that I can stick to it, like I have stuck to this challenge..."

There isn't any shade on Linda Mar beach and it is difficult to do wet in wet under direct sun, so I used a very wet squirrel quill brush and lots of water to dilute the paint, and did most of the painting wet-on-dry. I also chose a rough surface for the paper so that I can do dry-brush more easily, which is something that is not hard to do outdoors -- the underlying wash almost dries instantaneously, so you can put the dry-brushed details on top of it immediately. ;-) Again, not many people on the beach on a weekday (this is the time that I thank the universe for letting me be an artist so that I can get out on such a beautiful day and enjoy the outdoors, instead of being confined in a cubical; but then, the cubical comes with a more steady paycheck which I do miss! :-P), but a handful of sandpipers are combing the wet sand for their afternoon snack -- just the center of interest I need for this little study. I happily added these lovely little creatures, and watched them busy poking and digging around where the wave just left, immersing myself in their world for a precious moment. I am a grateful women, when I know I am at peace with what's around me.

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:










Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall over Marsh -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 16


Fall over Marsh, 
Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico #140 Cold Press Paper , 8"h x 12"w, 2013 #67

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $65) 

This is the second piece I have completed from the exercises started at Sterling Edwards' workshop. The initial imagery comes from many evening walks I have done around the marsh lands in the bay area, when the sky gradually turns into a beautiful magenta purple color, and the reflections of bushes and woods in the still waters of the marsh simply glow with a golden hue. Those last minutes before dark, the "in between" moments, the magical moments of the day, when I ambled through the quiet trails around these wetlands, they are all carved into my memories. Those were quiet times to reflect on the day, or watching a flock of birds gliding through low sky and marvel at their agility. Those were moments I felt at one with my surroundings, totally lost but knowing exactly who I am, and why I come to this world. 

I feel truly blessed every time I attempt to record such moments, such experiences with my brush. The action of painting itself recalls the joys of time experienced, shapes seen, sounds heard -- the completion of the picture seems only of secondary importance in comparison. The impressions seemed vague and hard to capture on paper, yet with every brush stroke I was reassured that they are actually part of me, and I will have them in me forever. It's a truly amazing experience... Let a scene simmer in your heart with time, before to bring it in front of the world again.

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:











Monday, September 16, 2013

End of Storm -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 15


End of Storm, Watercolor on Sennelier #140 Rough Paper , 4"h x 9"w, 2013 #66

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $35) 

A few years ago I had the pleasure of taking a workshop from Sterling Edwards, a wonderful landscape painter in watercolor, from whom I have learned to paint with big square brushes wet in wet, manipulating soft shapes using a stiff bristle brush. At that time my proficiency of working with watercolor is still very limited, so the projects I have attempted during the workshop failed miserably. But I kept the class materials and took them out from time to time to ponder upon. Then today, I felt that I could give them another try -- after all, I have definitely progressed as an artist during the past two years while I was painting almost everyday. I started six projects in the same time, reflecting what I have learned in class, painting mostly from memories and imagination, recalling familiar images of wetlands, woodlands and sea shores that I have wandered through when making a particular shape. The whole process is really refreshing. I've also deliberately stayed away from the good old Arches, and picked soft surfaced papers and even hot press papers that dried relatively fast, and have completely different handling qualities when wet. The unfamiliarity created more stimulation, and as a result, I have completely enjoyed the process. And this little piece is the first one that came out of such exercise...

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:












Sunday, September 15, 2013

Summer Heat, Central Valley -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 14


Summer Heat, Central Valley,  
Watercolor on Arches #140 Cold Press Paper , 6"h x 9"w, 2013 #65

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $55) 

This piece started quite a while ago as a study of negative painting in a workshop with the wonderful landscape artist and teacher Roland Lee. I saw this scene first when driving down to central valley on one of the little winding roads from Pinnacles National Park (at that time still only a national monument). The heat has totally scorched the land. There is only yellows, orches and browns in my field of vision. Now and then, a single, very skinny cattle or horse would been seen lying under valley oak trees, trying to get as much shade as possible from the what little shadow a lone tree could offer. It must be over 100 degrees even in shadow. Every inch in my line of vision is burnt by heat. Even the wind was choking hot, and when it titillated with the dried up grass it almost sounded like the vegetation were moaning out of pain and thirst. An old wind pump was slowly operating on the roadside, draining what little water it could squeeze out of ground into the huge rusty metal tanks standing beside it. I couldn't help but imaging how hot it would be if I put my hand on the shiny surface of those tanks... I can almost feel the thirst on my lips again when finishing this piece last night, although I was sitting in my cool, damp, comfortable San Francisco home...

I guess this is what I love most about painting -- it allow you to recall and relive the experiences that has once moved you, or forever scarred you. The pleasure and pain that has once changed us are, through the movement of a brush, fixed on a piece of canvas or paper for eternity...

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:











Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fisherman's Evening -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 13


Fisherman's Evening,
 Watercolor on Arches #140 Cold Press paper, 6"h x 9"w, 2013 #64

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $35) 

After a busy day at Filoli, I was happy to be able to still finish this little painting tonight. I used a very limited palette because I was inspired by some Sumi ink paintings and Haiku-like photographs I saw today. When I was painting it I thought about fog gradually rising on empty river surface, a lonely fishing boat anchored near shore, with its fishing-cormorants resting on the long pole at the end of it. The fisherman with a glass or two of hard liquor, resting after a day's hard work... It's a more and more rare scene even in rural China nowadays, the country being so rapidly developed. I know the romance in rural lifestyle is probably exaggerated while the hardship deliberately overlooked with people outside writing or painting about it, but still, born and raised in a mega city, I cannot help but being slightly nostalgia when thinking about such life of the past, which I have never experienced genuinely... :-P Life is full of controversies I guess. 

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:









Friday, September 13, 2013

Spring Meadow, Tamalpais -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 12


Spring Meadow, Tamalpais 
Watercolor on Winsor Newton 140# Cold Press Paper , 6"h x 10"w2013 #63

Sold!

My theme for the "30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge" this week is "landscape with water" -- I guess fog is a form of water hence this painting still fits the theme. ;-) I've learned a lot about using aerial perspective and soft-to-hard edge transition to create a sense of depth from doing this painting, as well as how to create varied shapes within repetition -- it is really hard to make every next stroke representing a fir branch to be of a different size, shape, direction and color from the last one! I don't think I've done an excellent job here -- more practice definitely needed. I've also experimented only using color transition and texture to represent the meadow. Unfortunately it looks more interesting in person than on the photo...

For those of you who are in the bay area -- tomorrow (Saturday, September 14th) and the day after tomorrow (Sunday, September 15th) will be the "Meet the Artists Day" event for the exhibition at Filoli Garden - "Nature’s Many Splendors: Farms, Gardens and Woodlands"! You are all invited to this special art-festival-like weekend, to meet the artists in the show, watch them doing art demos, chat with them and learn what has inspires them to create their art pieces. Framed pieces, prints, note cards and other items will be for sale both during the show and at the "Meet the Artist Day" event. And I will be doing demo there! The show runs from August 27th through October 27th, at the art gallery area in Filoli Garden, which is located at 86 Canada Rd in the lovely town of Woodside, California.

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:








Thursday, September 12, 2013

Edgewood -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 11, and What I Have Learned from It about Underpainting


Edgewood,
 Watercolor on Saunders Waterford #140 Cold Press paper, 10"h x 10"w, 2013 #62

Bid at My DPW Auction
 (Starting Bid $65) 

One of the consequence of painting landscape everyday for quite a few days is -- I start to crave to paint on slightly bigger pieces of paper and really allow the wet paint flow. This is something very hard to achieve on tiny formats such as 5" x 7" or 6" x 6" -- there is just not enough space for very wet washes to run, and the quantity of water has to be very strictly controlled so that you do not lose all precious white space after the first wash. And a few pieces that I liked after observing what such runny washes have done were further developed with glazes, including this one.

When applying the first layer of underpainting, sometimes I just apply a very simple all-over color tone to unify the future painting, giving it certain mood -- for example, a light yellow first layer can almost warm up the coldest, harshest paintings on top of it and gives a subtle sunny feeling to it. But most of the time, I would try to create soft-edged shapes with this first, very wet application of paint. Sometimes these shapes are related directly with the shapes, tones, directions, sizes, lines textures and colors which will follow, other times I just start with a rough idea, which means the first underpainting layer would only by partially, or approximately related to these aspects of the painting to come. And then, on other occasions, I've started with a blank mind not knowing what I'm going to paint on this piece of paper, and just apply very light colors an tones on soaking wet paper, and observe their movements -- which may give me some idea. I have even superimposed the value and color structure of another painting or other reference materials (instead of the one I am currently painting) in ghostly light versions as an underpainting, which means it would not at all correspond to the shapes, colors and values of the current painting that is to be developed on the same piece of paper -- and surprisingly, often enough, I have found that add a lot of surface interest instead of being a total disaster.

This has made me think why I have always liked to start with such a soft-edged, light underpainting layer, if it is not always to hint what's going to come. I believe underpaintings comes with its own advantages: It gives variations in the "white" section of the painting, and allow optical superimposition of color and tone. Since optical color is the synthesis made by our eye when seeing the underpainted color thought the overpainting, it is unlike any single layer and has its own mysterious "shine" or "glowing" quality when done right. An underpainting, especially when not totally correlated with the overpainting, often promotes an abstract quality of the image developed, and soft under hard edges usually makes a rich counterpoint and makes the pictorial experience more interesting and stimulating for the viewer. As long as one keeps the underpainting layer soft and light (usually lighter than midtone in value), allowing for final considerations and readjustment of edges and drawing during the overpainting process, it usually would not be too intrusive as to interfere with the viewer's experience with the overpainted image, just like the ambient sound of forest or ocean often do not interfere with our experience of music in such environment, although their rhythm or beat may not coincide with that of the music's.

For this particular painting, I have applied a very light, gradated magenta wash from top down, adding various greens, blues and purples toward the bottom, because I roughly had the idea that I wanted to paint a sunset  in the woods on a cold, snowy winter day. But I did not exactly draw out the trees, the rocks or the topography on the snow-covered field. Instead I have concentrated to vary the color temperature and value while applying this wet wash. As a result, I really liked the added interest this first layer has created on the otherwise all-white snowy field. And because of the dark woods and rock shapes developed in the overpainting, the light purple and blue areas at the bottom still read as "white" and "snow". One thing I wanted to improve on this is to add more color variations in the areas that I know will be very light (such as the sky) when doing the underpainting. I was a little timid about doing this when painting "Edgewood", and as a result, there is not a lot of color variations in the sky, and makes it a little bland compared with other areas of the image. Luckily, there are enough business in the woodland area directly below it, so that quiet patch of sky can actually give the viewer's eye some rest and relief. It was not planned, but I'm glad it worked out this way... What do you think, my friend?

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:







Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Misty Dawn -- 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge (Round Two), Day 10, and Thoughts on How Artists Create Art


Misty Dawn, Ruby Beach,
 Watercolor on Richeson Zoltan Szabo #140 Cold Press paper, 5"h x 7"w, 2013 #61

Sold!

Since I was going through the reference photos I took on the trip to Ruby Beach, Washington when doing "Sea Stacks, Ruby Beach" a couple of days ago, I couldn't help but picking out a few more favorites to work from, hence this little one today (and a few more to come). Lucky for me, it still fits in my theme for the current week: landscape with water (ok, ok, yesterday's piece was landscape but without water, I got it :-P... I just got carried away designing those trees and finished it in the end...)

It has been a long time since I took the trip, but I stood on that beach from dawn (which was nice and sunny) till past dusk (which gradually got very cloudy and finally started to rain -- as I complained in the post about "Sea Stacks, Ruby Beach", looked, listened, smelled, pondered, drew and painted, even took a nap! The place with its unique windy, salty atmosphere was well burnt into my memory. Had I not spent such precious time lingering in a place like this, but only snapped a photo and left, I probably wouldn't have felt being suddenly transported back again when my eye accidentally scanned across the reference photo I took there at dawn. I remembered how the warm mist gradually rose from water as the sun slowly climbed up, as if the spirit of the land was waking up along with the warmth provided by this source of life. I remembered the amazing rosy golden glow around everything behind the veil of fog, and the purple-orange shadows of the back-lid sea stacks standing against the rising sun...  I just had to get it down on paper.

After finishing this piece I started pondering about the creative process -- what an artist, every artist goes through after being hitting by that overwhelming sense "I have to paint that!!!"... First comes looking: a sensation; seeing a piece of nature and saying, "There is a beautiful tree", or "I love the light reflected on water's surface". We as artists start to be aware of the "present". Eyesight reception stirs up a chaos inside us. Something has to be done. Then it all quiets down to a more pure, condensed perception: the artist acknowledges him/herself the existence of the scene, and a deep, more real "seeing" is retained within our memory with every extra stare, providing a storehouse of visual data for us to mull over and over, ponder and digest, which finally may be integrated into a "concept" -- a perceived experience with intention. At this stage we as artists have gained an awareness of what stood in front of us in the totality of personal experience. It has become axiomatic, and can be held as a scheme in our mind's eye as an integration of similar units whenever we want to recall it. It matures, and waited to be executed, carried out as a visual statement about the experience -- experience not as what happened to us but what happened in us. And as we finally do that, the finished work becomes separated from us, the artists by time and space. It enters a life of its own, to stand or fall, no longer within our control. There is often a sense of deep vulnerability felt by the artist when such a product makes its public appearance, as for so long we have lived with it, held it deeply in ours minds and hearts, being tortured by its will of coming out of us, worrying that even after giving it our best effort, the result still could not stand up to the beauty we see in our minds' eye... 

It is such a painful, labored exhilaration, an addiction, a powerful experience that we repeat again and again, everyday. The most powerful and most vulnerable position: the position of the creator. 

... And that, is exactly why I am doing it again today.

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:







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