Monday, May 20, 2024

Fountain of Life


I have just arrived home after a 47 days trip driving through 17 states in the south and east of US. I have had both good and bad days on this journey. I must admit that I am pretty bad in posting on my social media to share what I have learned on the road. Used to being so active on FB and Instagram during my "Daily Painting" days, now I feel so indifferent about what I have done. Sometime I do good paintings, and sometime not too good. I kind of like this one I did at Chanticleer in Wayne PA. I enjoyed seeing the opaque pigments on top of a transparent wash. I do believe there is a Fountain of Life. I may never find it, or I am in it without knowing it.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Atlanta Backyard


This is the first painting I did during the Olmsted Invitational in Atlanta. Plein air painting means artists must face unexpected surprises. I have run into one this time. Before the event, I have done my homework. I have planned where and what to paint. However, this happened.  In the morning of the first day, my wife suddenly felt severe back pain. She could not move and was not able function for her daily basics. Now the priority has changed immediately. I was at her bedside to help what she needs. To make a long story short, on the third day she felt slightly better. I had some time thinking about painting. My only option was painting plein air in the backyard of our housing. So this was what I have done.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Monday, April 15, 2024

Demo 1 in Jackson


I taught a workshop in Jackson MS recently. I want to thank Mary Alice Lee and Bob Tompkins for organizing this workshop. Thanks to all Mississippi artists who attended my class. I have had so much fun, and this is my first demo.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Hsin-Yao Tseng painting workshop 2024


I am so happy to announce that Master artist Hsin-Yao Tseng will come to Austin again and teach a painting workshop in early December 2024. This workshop is quite unique. Hsin-Yao will introduce various kinds of mark making techniques. He will use reference photos of landscape scenes, but concentrate on creating expressive and energetic designs. Hsin-Yao is a very successful artist and wonderful teacher. I hope you can take advantage of this opportunity to bring your art to the next level. Please check: for information and sign up.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Albert's trees


I am hosting an oil painting workshop for a Master artist Albert Handell in Austin, TX. Albert has done a wonderful demo today. I was amazed by his palette knife technique and his impressive palette of exotic colors. Besides helping Albert and all workshop attending artists with their logistical needs, I got chance to paint a little as well. This is what I did today. I always thought painting trees is not my a cup of tea, but I liked what I have learned. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2024



I took Robert Moor's class at Scottsdale Artists' School. I have learned a lot. Mark making is so important to make a painting impressive and expressive. I have not spent enough time to develop my mark making skills. Currently, I am still concentrating on color studies, but soon I will have more fun like painting this one.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Color Relationship from Light to Shadow


I took a photo of an orange lit by a single light source, then measured 10 color samples from light to shadow using the "Color Analyzer App" we developed. The three numbers on each color sample are its hue, chroma, and value. On the color wheel, we can see: (1) in the light area 1 to 5, the hue shifted from yellow to red orange. This hue shift is often referred as the "prismatic color shift". (2) in the shadow are 6 to 10, the hue does not change. On the "value vs. chroma" diagram, we can see the variation of chroma and value is strongly corelated by following two straight lines. These two linear relations of chroma and value governs the color integrity of a 3D solid object. We may refer it as the "saturation constancy" rule. If you violated this rule when you paint, you will have muddy, chalky, or garish color problems. Most advanced artists know the effects intuitively, but I want to express the rule with an unambiguous scientific statement. You may have heard the saying: "rules are made to be broken", but this one won't. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Albert Handell's oil painting workshop


The Master Artist Albert Handell will teach a 4-day oil painting workshop on March 19 - 22, 2024 near Austin, Texas. We still have a few openings. If you are interested learning from Master Handell, please check: and sign in  by clicking the blue registration button at the bottom of the webpage. 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

White Chrysanthemum


Continuing on non-colored paintings. This time I worked on a floral project, cool light warm shadows. All those greys need to be harmoniously related to create solid forms. The color temperature needs to be consistent to avoid muddiness to occur. I do like vibrant colors, but this kind of near black-white exercises helps me to lay a solid foundation, and the painting will have much more potential for further development. 

Monday, February 5, 2024

Bull Creek in Winter


Painting a landscape in a cloudy day, the sky light is pretty neutral (gray), but is the light warm or cool? To be honest with you, I was not sure. So I run my "Warm-n-Cool" filter (see my previous post) on the reference photo. Lo and behold, it is warm for sure. I guess the physics does make sense. Behind the clouds, we have the sun and the blue sky. The warm sun light dominates the cool blue sky. The cloud works as a diffuser, and average out the light. So the stronger sun light makes the skylight warmer.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Warm and Cool in a Still Life


The warm and cool relationship is so important. I have done a few this kind of color less still life paintings. They really helped me to understand the color temperature and build the objects solidly in a painting. The major light for this painting is warm and the shadow has a cool reflection. I wish I did this kind of exercise when I just started painting. I was more interested in the showy stuff like the loose "painterly" effect. I have to tell you a truth: If you do not know how to paint "tightly", you can hardly paint "loosely". The key is to know how to paint "solidly". I will share my understanding more in the coming workshop at the Scottsdale Artists' School on February 12. To get detailed information, please go to: > Workshops > Workshops 2024.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

"Warm-n-Cool" Filter

Two engineers and I have developed an image filter called "Warm-n-Cool". It can remove the influence of local colors and show the color temperature relationships of the light and shadow. Basically, it changes a full color image to a two colors (hues) only image. The two hues are orange (warm) and blue (cool). I have used "Warm-n-Cool" to filter my reference photos, and gain much better understanding the specific color temperature distribution across the image. In many cases, I can use orange and blue only to paint an entire painting realistically. The "Warm-n-Cool" filter is free for everybody to use. Please follow this simple instruction: Go to > Apps > Painter's Guide 3.1 > Load your image > Filter > Warmncool. 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Still Life Painting Workshop


I am getting busy again. I will teach a 4-day still life painting workshop at the Scottsdale Artists' School on February 12 - 15, 2024. Although I have taught painting workshop so many times, but I have kept gaining new understanding, and developing new skills. I want to use this opportunity to share my techniques with you. If you are interested in my painting approaches, please visit: ( or go to my website) to sign up.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Digital Squinting


Life is short. How can we become good in painting QUICKLY? We all know we need to practice, but to accelerate the progress, my secret is: USING SMART TOOLS. The posted image shows that you can "squint" your ref photo digitally. Here is how to do it: Go to website) > click "Apps" > click "Painter's Guide 3.0" > load your ref photo > click "Filter" > click "Oilify". Now you have no worry you develop wrinkles because you squint a lot during painting time. I have quite a few apps on my website, which are free for you to use. I want to thank the engineers behind the screen for making these tools available. As a matter of fact, I have a workshop next month at the Scottsdale Artist School ( I will show you my techniques. Life is short. If you want to paint goodly (I mean well), I will teach you how to "cheat" correctly.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Cityscape Study


Master artist Hsin-Yao Tseng did a cityscape workshop here in Austin last November. I did this painting by using one of his reference photos. Combined what I have learned from Hsin-Yao and the color research I have been doing, I witness this painting gradually revealed itself in front of me. The color scheme is dominated by the warm and cool lights, while the local colors are rather subtle.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Painting Retreat in Sicily


At this New Year time, I want to announce a new event in 2024. Artist Suzanne Dougherty and I have organized a Painting Retreat in Sicily, Italy in the fall of 2024. It will refresh your spirit, mind, and body. Participating this retreat will be a great new year's resolution you can have. Please get detailed information at: Since we can only have 14 people to participate this event, please register as soon as possible. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Step back to good old days


This is another painting I did during the holiday down-time. I followed patiently the steps of the painting wanted to take. No matter how slow and how far it goes, I stayed with it, witnessing the painting revealed itself gradually. The experience was amazing. I have heard whispering in my heart, which gave me guidance of what to do.

I wanted to paint the guts of radios for a long time. Making radios was my early year's obsession. I made a crystal radio when I was in 3rd grade. I still remembered the excitement when a voice came out of the headphone the first time. Later on, the magic of radio enticed me into the field of engineering and physics.

Similar to painting my previous still life, all the parts of this old radio do not have much of local color. The warm and cool light sources made the color play. The variations of the color temperature and value created the illusion of 3D forms of tubes, transformers, knobs, and so on. If the color relationships are right, the forms looked solid. Whether a painting works or not, the form solidity plays a very important role.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Albert Handell's Workshops


I hope all of you are enjoying this holiday season. Time flies. Soon the brand new 2024 will come. We all try to set up new goals at this New Year time. I really want to improve my art even more in 2024. What about you? If you are like me, I want to share an opportunity with you: The famous artist and teacher Albert Handel will come to Austin and teach two workshops, one in January and one in March. We still have openings for both workshops. If you are interested in learning from the master, please check and for detailed information and sign up.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Color of Achromats


I have been enjoying my holiday down-time for about a month now. I have done 4 paintings so far. I used to paint alla prima and try not to overwork, but this time is different. I allow the painting take the lead. I just follow my heart and simply provide whatever the painting needs. I did not set any time limit. On and off, this painting took weeks to this stage. I have posted it last time, but I have noticed afterward the perspective and color were still having issues. If a painting allows you keep on working without showing a down-turn, it is a good sign. Knowing your heart and sincerely following it. That is a holy moment. Through this moment, you touch the eternity. 

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Color Sophistication


Having done the "white on white" and "black on black" still lives, I decided to combine white, black and gray objects together into a single setup. I minimized the local colors so all the colors were generated only by the light sources, one warm and one cool. I vaguely knew, but realized strongly this time, we are practically colorblind when we just start to block-in colors on the painting. The reason is very simple: we make our color judgement by comparison with other colors, but we just did our composition drawing or wash we do have the reference we can tell the color. Developed artists have their experiences or formula, but I want to be accurate as much as possible. That is why measuring color numerically, and developing a color mixing mechanism to obtain the matched color will be helpful to demystify all the color mix gimmicks. I am working on a few methods to overcome the color ambiguity at early painting stages, and my recent paintings are my experiments to find a scientific approach. The problem is so gooey, it will takes me a while to get a sound solution. I will keep on trying, and share with you in my future teachings.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Is the camera black?


I have shown my "white object on white background" experiment two days ago, and this image is my "black object on black background" experiment. Now the question is: what makes us believe that the camera in this painting is black? The value range is not the answer, because I can zap the camera object with a super bright light and paint a very high key painting. Let me know your thought.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Warm/Cool Still Life


I like this holiday season. I finally can paint without any business motivations. I submerged myself into the color study again. The image shows my "paint a white object on a white background" project. I used two light sources, one warm and one cool to generate schemes of "warm light cool shadow" and "cool light warm shadow". I am experimenting a color mixing method, which I may call "numerical color matching". With this method, I can accurately achieve a good color solidity, and reduce the color muddiness.  I hope someday artists can use science and mathematics to go beyond their experiences to obtain unambiguous understanding and control in their creative processes.

Monday, November 27, 2023

2024 Painting Calendar


It is the holiday season now. As usual, I have made a desk calendar for the coming 2024. Please visit my website: then click the "Store" tab, you may see the 13 painting images I have selected for this calendar. I know quite many my artist friends collect my painting calendars. At this Thanksgiving time, I want to express my sincere gratitude to all of you. Thank you so much for your generosity that makes my art possible. 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Colors in the Water


For this year's EPAT, I set a theme for myself: I want to paint nonstructural organic forms. This is a way of saving time because I don't need manage proportions. I can concentrate on designs, colors, and texture. I am glad this strategy works well for plein air painting events.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Blooming Colors


Another plein air piece during EPAT. It was raining and windy, but I had a blast.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Goat Trap Brush Pile


The judge for this year's EPAT is an art historian. He made a comment I really like. I don't remember exactly his words, but it was something like: You artists are not the source of the art. You are just the conduit through which the art comes through. I agree 100% and believe the beauty is one of God's properties.  The biggest barrier to stagnate our art conduit is the ego.

Monday, October 30, 2023

The Rain Comes Finally


EPAT has ended. I did 9 paintings. Texas has been dry, buy when we set up our easels, the rain comes right away. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Small Beauty


What is my motivation of doing art? At the beginning, I just think about myself. Having found that I have the above average ability to create images. I told myself: I would use this ability to tell the world that I am so great...I want to be a great artist. Oh boy. I was so wrong. If you think, or someone told you, you are talented. Have you wondered where your talent really comes from?

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Life is eternal


I bought some pink roses from a local grocery store. They looked OK when I got them, but they all wilted within 24 hours. I managed to do this painting in this life/death situation. I was amazed how quickly life can change right in front of our eyes. Recently, I reviewed my own life, as a scientist and artist, as a Chinese and American. It is felt like a TV show, episode after episode. They entice us to continue watching. However when the show reaches its end, we often feel a little disappointed. Is that it? Can it be a little better? Nevertheless, we usually wake up from the story rather quickly, knowing it is just a show, not real. My art show is still playing, but it is just a show as well. It has more episodes to continue, but I know I should not take it that seriously.