Thursday, May 30, 2013

"Whidbey Island"

Hello from the beautiful Whidbey Island, WA. I just arrived in Seattle a few hours ago. Starting from morning, my iPhone has been beeping almost every 5 seconds, and my heart gets warmed every time . I know that so many artist friends are sending messages and wishing me happy birthday. I am really touched. Big Thanks to all of you very very much. I hope all of you are doing well, happy, and paint a lot.

I want to thank specially Cary Juriaans for organizing a workshop on this beautiful island for me. I am looking forward to wonderful 3 days painting with a group of wonderful artists.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Orchid Study 2" --- Sold

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For doing the second orchid study, I have gained more confidence and freedom. I find the rubber tipped paint wipe off tool more and more useful. I got it from the Jerry's Artarama. You don't have to use the same brand. The idea is important. When you place new paint on the already painted area, it is a good idea to remove the wet paint at the spot first, then apply the new paint on top. This is a good way to create higher contrast and keep the paint clean.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

"Beyond the North Light" --- Sold

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For doing a still life painting, the natural north light is the best light source. When so many artists building their studios, having a north window is the fundamental requirement for the project. The understanding has been proved that it is true. I used it, and absolutely believed it -------- well, till yesterday.

This painting was done with a regular halogen light, but I filtered the light with 4 layers of my blue tinted filter (I call that my North Light Filter). Yes, I used 4 of them. In result my illumination on the setup is a way cooler than the natural north light, and painting felt almost as lit by the moon light. This exercise made me realized suddenly that illumination of the still life setup can be a part of the artistic design. Just like moving objects in the setup can ends up different composition, altering light is also can be involved into the artistic concept of your painting project. In order to create the effect you want, you have the freedom of use any kind of light. You may use the north light, but you also can use candle light, tungsten light, fluorescent light, LED light, Neon light, and even laser light. You may filter your light, focus your light, diffuse your light, and use multiple lights. In a nutshell, light source can be changed according to your design.

However, one thing you need to be careful. No matter what light you use to illuminate your still life setup, You MUST (yes, MUST) illuminate your palette and canvas with the natural north light or close to the natural north light. Otherwise you painting will change color when it is viewed under the natural light.

Friday, May 24, 2013

"Plein Air in the Morning" --- Sold

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I went out and painted with Plein Air Austin yesterday in the morning. The place was very beautiful. The meadow was full of wild flowers of different colors. Lots of trees. But I immediately realized I could not make a good painting out of this beautiful scene, because I could not identify any 3D forms. If there is no form, there is no painting. Period. So I painted the painters.

I don't know if you have noticed that there are two kinds of artists. The first kind artists paint only landscapes. They don't paint still life, figurative, and portraits. However, the second kind artists painting still life, and figure mainly, but they hardly paint any natural landscapes. Even they paint out doors, they prefer painting cityscapes, building and cars. I am belong to the second kind for sure. Of course, both kinds  can produce great artists, but I just don't know why. Very very few artists can do both landscape and figurative well. Richard Schmid is one of them.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Head Study 052213"

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I went to portrait painting last night, and did this head study. This week I am busy doing my technical consulting work, so I have to pause some of my art work. Like Confucius said: If you want to do something well, you have to not do something else. But nowadays, we are use to multitasking. I don't quite like this kind of culture. It is so difficult to concentrate.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

"22nd Oil Painters of America National Exhibition"

I attended the reception and award ceremony of the 22nd OPA National Exhibition at the InSight Gallery in Fredericksburg, TX. It was a great reunion with so many artist friends. I was so happy seeing all of you. This photo shows me with two outstanding artists I think you all familiar with. Scott Burdick is my very first workshop teacher. We met more than a decade ago. He taught me the bold and expressive art style. John Michael Carter is an OPA Master. I love his wonderful narrative figurative paintings.

I was surprised when this year's OPA judge Sherrie McGrow announced that my painting "Awakening" won the Still Life Award of Excellence. I really appreciate that Oil Painters of America gives me such a honor. It gives me more inspiration to explore more in my art journey.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

"Orchid Study 1" --- Sold

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I am wandering out my comfort zone of still life painting for a while now. I touched many new things and found they are all tips of icebergs. Just like a young boy goes out of the house and play. He finds so many new and attractive things. He followed his temptation really had a good time. Now the little boy feels hungry, so he has suddenly realized that he is far away from home. That is my feeling right now. I am going back to still life painting and will pay more attention to my art business.

A friend of mine sent us a beautiful orchid. So I did this study last night. It was pretty hard (another tip of iceberg). I hope you like it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"On a Street"

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This is a good exercise. Painting Abundance has been always a challenge to me. You might have remembered my exercise of painting leaves a while ago. I am glad I stepped into this domain again. I have approached to this painting a little different from the one I did yesterday. I painted the background first. Then I used the rubber tipped paint removing tool (I got it from the Jerry's Artarama) and clean the figure area then I painted on top.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Party in a Park"

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You may have felt tired of my gray building landscape paintings. So I decided to do something else. I want to paint small figures and suggest a mass of crowd. It is another very interesting direction. It will go together with my landscape naturally. This is my first try. It wasn't bad, but it shows my lack of experience. I have a lot of unsure areas on this painting. It is a good start. It does show the effect I wanted. Improvement will come. I will get better from here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

“Flower Spirit Temple" --- Sold

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I have been called for some technical consulting by the engineering company. Feeling like a dream, but I am back into my rash hour commuting "job" temporarily. Yesterday I tried to repeat my old routine: technical work during the day and paint in the evening. My life was like that for many years before. But yesterday I felt very different. I was so tired, almost sickly. When I painted this one, my brain was completely dead, I have forgot all of my study about grays and what ever. I have moved back to my "just do it" mode of painting. I moved like zombie, slow and clumsy. Oh! boy. I am old man now. My days are numbered.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"A Small House at Wuzhen" --- Sold

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My gray colors are getting cleaner now. I even understood more today. My rule of thumb presented last time applies only under the condition that the general tone of the painting is set in orange or yellow deep. That is the tone I usually use for my landscape paintings. You know you have the choice to setup whatever tones you like. If you like cooler tones like blue and purple, your feel of dirty or clean can change right away. In a nut shell. We need to be sensitive in setting up the general tone of the painting, than harmonize all the colors in the painting around the tonal color.

This painting is from a photo I took at Wuzhen. Our painting trip to China is forming well. It looks travel to China from US in September will get pretty good deal, which is much cheaper than my trip there last year. I am very happy another of my dream will come true. It is not late. I hope more people can join me. We will have a great time together.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Cloudy Spring Day" --- Sold

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I went to plein air painting with a group of local artists this morning. It was heavily clouded at the verge  of drizzling. The scene I picked had absolutely nothing special. But I had a wonderful time. I was simply looking for a piece of gray color I wanted practice with. Here I had it.

I asked the question of how to paint gray colors last time. I really appreciate the feedbacks from many artists friends. A few artists got a little confused with my recent gray paintings. Well, my motivation was trying to figure out why some artists paint beautifully with muted subtle gray colors while others can only make a mess, showing ugly, dirty, and deadly results. This secret is well kept by quite a few "good" artists. I heard so many time in workshops or demos that the instructors say "I just painting intuitively" or "It just feels right". I have to say these kind of statements have absolutely NO information in them. Through many days of research on gray colors, I start to get a conclusion (works for me at least): Blue and purple make a gray (especially dark gray) look dirty. Green and yellow make a gray clean.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"A Stone Bridge" --- Sold

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After came back to Austin, I immediately resume my study on gray colors in landscape painting. This is  a very high key painting I did yesterday. Please correct me if you think I am wrong: I feel low value gray colors are easier to look "dirty" than high value gray colors. Making clean gray paintings has been challenging me for a while. I would appreciate if some one can verbalize some principles of using grays. Currently, I am working like a blind person touching an elephant. I am learning the hard way. I know I will be there eventually. However, if some advance painters could help me out, it would be great.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

"Demo at Albuquerque 2013 2" --- Sold

My workshop at Albuquerque ended today, and this is my second demo. I hope all the workshop artists can practice what we have talked about on the workshop and hope your art improve significantly. I will be home tomorrow, and continue my exploration in my art journey.

Friday, May 3, 2013

"Demo at Albuquerque 2013 1"

I have arrived at Albuquerque, NM yesterday. My workshop is at New Mexico Art League. I want to thank NMAL for organizing and all the artists for coming. This is my first demo. Having not painting still life for a while, I thought I may have forgot how to do it,  but this one turned out pretty good. I made a part of the painting very abstract, and paid a great attention to the transition between the realistic center of focus to the abstract peripherals, so they can go together without any conflict.