Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Writing the Flower" --- Sold

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The character in my today's painting means "flower". It is in the "Cao" style of the calligraphy. This kind of writing has became a pure art form and it is so much deviated from everyday writing. I painted a rose to go with it.

These a couple of weeks after I came back from San Francisco, I spent most of my time trying to improve my figure work. On the foundation I established at AAU I worked on anatomy and human structure seriously, practiced with oil and charcoal. I am really trying to bring my figure work into a level so I can feel comfortable to show my figure paintings to the public. However, I have not reached the goal I want. The only conclusion I got so far is that the learning curve of the figure painting is MUCH longer than I thought. Keep improving is my only choice. Many people wrote to me: "Qiang, you are too hard on yourself, and you figure work is good enough". Well, to be honest with you, I don't think so.

You may have this kind of experience: you joined a local life drawing group, drawing (or painting) figure every week. Many years have passed, but you still doing almost the same, Hardly can tell the difference of the work of yesterday and of two years ago. One of the artist in the same group comes to you and told you that he has been drawing with the group for 35 years, but you look at his work. You see immediately what is wrong. The hand is too large, and the shoulder is not right. Even a 3-year old can see that. Then you take workshops from top notch artists, but very soon after, you will draw or paint the same way as before.... What I want to say here is: there is big problem of art practice, and there is a big problem of art learning. I also want to say: all of those problems are solvable, and it does not do anything with if we are talented or not.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

“Sweet Moment" --- Sold

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I keep exploring the ways to involve the Chinese characters into my still life more naturally. Using a plate is not a bad idea.  The character in my today's painting means "sweet". So I painted whole bunch of grapes with it. As a matter of fact, painting abundance of something has been one of my goals in painting, which I have not fully achieved yet. I worked on leaves before, but I think I am not there yet. That is why I don't paint much landscapes. I can't handle so many leaves, rocks, clouds, and so on. I  really admire artists who can paint warehouses, libraries, and cityscapes. I can paint grapes in clusters ok, so I will be there after more practices.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Simply Sweet" --- Sold

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Today I am working on a figurative project, one of those requires many days to finish. I think Zhaoming at AAU has opened a can of worms. He made me aware that so many things I don't know. He told us: when you paint a figure, you painting 80% from what you KNOW, and 20% from what you SEE. Human form is so subtle, underneath the smooth skin there is so much going on. For a still life painter like me, I paint almost 100% from what I SEE. That is why I am so slow when I paint a figure. I can get the job done from meticulously measuring and comparing without knowing enough human structure. That is a very inefficient way. Now I am work really hard to KNOW the bones and muscles.

Having talked about figure, Let's come back to still lives. The painting I posted today was done when I was at AAU. One day I was very tired of figure painting, I grabbed some props in the storage, and did this small painting. The calligraphy on the sake bottle gives me the idea of involving Chinese characters  into my paintings.

Monday, August 20, 2012

“Pictorial Presentation" --- Sold

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You have witnessed the evolution of my still life painting with Chinese characters. I feel satisfied with my today's painting. The character and the still life setup are combined more naturally. The character in this painting means "a picture". So I put it in a format of a painting scroll. I feel happy about the subtle value and color changes in the background. Even this painting is only 5" x 7", but it gives the impression of a large painting. As a matter of fact, I will do some large paintings with this scheme. With my recent painting practice, I feel I have gained more freedom. Now I can go beyond alla prima, and I am not restricted by the physical setups in my shadow box. I like to create a mood. I like David Leffel's work. Every one of his painting shows a mood. I want to be there too.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Rhythm of the Shadow" --- Sold

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The character in my today's painting means "Shadow". I enjoyed painting the circular shadow casted on the apple. I have been thinking about this new approach of still life painting. There are many possibilities waiting for me to explore. Currently, I keep the design simple, so I can concentrate on the effect of background colors. The background of the today's painting is color I use very often: ultramarine blue plus cadmium orange.

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Let it be Color" --- Sold

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I kind of like my recent still life by adding a Chinese character. So I want to explore this approach even more. The character in my today's painting means "color". A plateful of peppers with various colors matches this meaning. This new approach makes me pay more attentions to the execution methodology  of a painting, which I don't know much about. When I did my "light" painting, I really had a hard time painting wet-on-wet for the character and background. The character needs high accuracy to maintain its calligraphic beauty and the background needs to be uniform. So wet-on-wet is not a good way to do it. For today's painting, I used acrylic for the background. It dried about 30 minutes, then I painted the character on top. I also learned from doing this painting that dark colors needs a relatively large area to show its value. I used burnt umber plus a touch of white for the background. Its value is around "3" in a 10 scale value range. When I started, it looks black to me in contrast to the white painting board. After I covered the board and wrote the character on it. The background looked significantly lighter. It seemed I got my pupils dilated. On this background, my colors for the peppers are so bright. I used almost all out-of-tube colors for them. This painting is an eye opener for me, literally.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Santa in August"

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My AAU training is over, but I don't want my painting figure and portrait to cool down. I got my first opportunity last night. I went to our local Gemini Art School and painted this wonderful model. He came with his shining bike. His white beard made him an ideal Santa Claus. I was so happy seeing several my old painting buddies and meet a couple of new friends.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

“Let it be Light" --- Sold

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I have been back to Austin for several days. Two months of AAU and life in San Francisco have enriched my artistic ideas. I have been thinking constantly what I should do next. Should I continue on figurative and portraiture, or keep doing my still lives? Should I do large or go small? .... and many more questions. I felt I have arrived on a top of one mountain. Now I see whole range of mountains in front of me. I am in ow with the grand view in front of me, and also lost the track where I should go next.

Today I decided to do a still life, but it is deviated from that I used to do. I want to include a Chinese character into my painting so both East and West culture can go together. The character in my today's painting means "Light", written in the "Kai" style of Chinese calligraphy. Light is the only thing I paint. Light is also my research field when I was an engineer. Many people wonder how come I like both art and physics, which are totally opposite. But the fact is that I only work on Light, it doesn't matter the light is presented with oil pigments or mathematic equations.  In the Bible, Light is the first thing God created. So let it be Light. Hope the Light is showing in my paintings, and yours too.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Almost Academically Trained"

Today I want share a photo of me painting at the Fine Art Studio of AAU, and document this extremely significant summer. The photo was taken by an AAU professor Oliver Sin. I almost look like an academically trained artist. I really like this studio. Many years ago, this place was a parking garage. It is very spacious with large north light windows. I like its primitive and industrial look. The floor is full of paint stains. We throw our dirty paper towels directly on the floor, and we don't use trash cans or bags. The air is full of oder of turps and other media. However, Zhaoming has created most of his marvelous figuratives here with dramatic lighting and delicate skin tones. The location was two blocks away from the famous Fisherman's Wharf. The cable cars are passing right under those large windows, full of tourists enjoying the beauty of SF been done many many years ago. I feel I am also a tourist, but the difference is that I am inside the building, enjoying the beauty being created right at this very moment.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"AAU Figure Painting Final Project (Day 5)"

Today is my last day at AAU. The summer semester is over. I have learned a lot from Zhaoming in this short seven and half weeks. I really enjoyed this short semester. I made quite a few new friends. I start to miss them already. Now my dream have come true. You will will see more of my figure and portrait work in the future. My today's image is my final project after 5 days of hard work. I don't know if I call it finished, but it is a major milestone on my art journey. Now I can include figure painting in my portfolio. I  have enjoyed San Francisco very much I wish I had more time blogging what I experienced and saw in this beautiful city. I will be back to Texas this Friday. I can't wait to see Song and Jonathan. Thank you for monitoring my art learning process, and I will keep you posted for my future activities.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"AAU Figure Painting 5 (Day 4)"

It was Day 4 on this painting. I did the hand pretty much from my imagination, and spent sometime on the background and the drapery. I don't think I will do the face so to keep the painting semi abstract. I have exhausted what I can do on this painting. I will see what Zhaoming wants me to do on Day  5.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"AAU Figure Painting Final Project (Day 3)"

I never thought that painting a large painting takes so much time and energy. I am still moving but very tired. I want to apologize to many people who expecting my emails dealing with future workshop arrangement and other art business issues. Please give me some time and I will write to you. I want to thank all the friend commented on my recent figure work.

This image is my final project on day 3. I have learned a hard lesson. It is very hard to add a head after you have painted the body first. I have to re-do the face a least three time trying to match the body. I have measured the face with very very very high precision. If you draw or paint figures, you may have the experience that if you do the head first and body second, very often you will find that the location of the feet vary in a very large range. If you are not careful, the feet can go off the page very easily. On the other hand if you painted body first, you will see that a tiny movement on the eyes or nose will cause figure going out of proportion. Anyway, the painting is progressing ok so far. I will try my best to finish it this weekend.

"AAU Figure Painting 5 (Day 3)"

This is my 3rd day on this figure painting from life. I did more colors and details, but I don't see much of progress. I have two more days to go on this project. To be honest with you, I don't feel very enthusiastic about the model. I wish I were Lucian Freud. But I am not. I still try to find beauty and share it with you. Well this one is really a challenge to me. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.