Saturday, September 27, 2014

Morning Light II -- Continue with the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge...

Morning Light IIWatercolor on Ampersand Aquabord, 6"h x 6"w, 2014 #18

Bid in My DPW Auction ( Starting Bid $75)

Another of my early entries for Leslie Saeta's "30 Paintings in 30 Days" Challenge for this September... I named it "Morning Light II" since I have finished "Morning Light I" a bit earlier -- the first one of my 6" x 6" rose series on Ampersand Aquabord, but haven't got a chance to share it here with you guys yet... (Promise I will do so in the next few days -- I am gradually catching up with my long-lagged-behind blog posts! But since I haven't posted the entire summer, there is so much catching up to do... :-P)

I have really struggled through this one to get the soft transitions in the background where colors are rich, saturated or dark - which according to my opinion is the hardest thing to do on Aquabord. I think it may still benefit from a few changes here and there to model the volume and turn of each petal, but for now I am stopping, as I have worked on it for two days continuously, and losing insight on the subtleties. The great thing about this challenge -- putting a time limit on each project and force me to work more directly, boldly and fearlessly -- also makes it hard for me to do the last 10% of work that I consider makes the difference between a good piece and a mediocre one -- there is no chance to put a piece away and come back to it with a fresh eye with such a tight time frame for completion... Nevertheless, I think I may come back to this one in a few days to do some fine tweaking... :-)

Despite of all its difficulties, I still think my adventures into Ampersand Aquabord is well worth its while, because it is something "new" and "foreign" to me. Personally, I believe that it is very hard for someone who has painted for a while to avoid getting into an "inertia" of painting simply be deliberately trying to change his or her technique, and one surefire way to push yourself out of such painting rut is to try a new subject, or try a new surface. Different painting surfaces have different absorbency for water, different drying time and subtle variation in the same stage of the drying cycle, different surface texture, different resistance to paint application (which determines how easily the same stroke will spread or different surfaces with approximately the same wetness). Hence, painting on an unfamiliar surface would force you to open your eyes, and really observe the behavior the paint you put down on paper again, instead of just blindly going from one painting stage to the next. All of these afore-mentioned characteristics also determines the different visual effect one is able to achieve on various painting surfaces -- on a smooth, non-absorbent surface like hot-press paper or Aquabord, one can utilize the drying edge of a stroke that is laid down and different "water-mark"s to suggest shapes (wet-on-dry); on a very absorbent surface, it is hard (and often not necessary) to maintain the edge of one individual brush-stroke, yet one can rely on the movement of color laid-down across a large area of wet or moist paper to achieve interesting edge effects and soft shapes (wet-in-wet). The final visual effect is often drastically different, creating different signature styles. 

Of course, it is not impossible to use one technique to imitate the other by softening edges with clear water, or wet small areas when painting wet-in-wet to simulate brush strokes, and create similar looks on different painting surfaces using very different techniques -- which is another great exercise. It has taught me that no matter what road is taken, a painting is ultimately judged not first by the techniques used, but by the final visual effects one is able to achieve. A good painting is first and foremost about "what" is being painted, then by "how" it's painted. Technique is an important means to the end, but for me not by itself an end. The image in one's vision and how it is translated onto the painted surface is the uttermost important thing. 

Enough rambling for now! I should really get back to my watercolor table... In the mean time, 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 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:


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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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