Thursday, June 29, 2023

Demo 1 in Salt Lake City


I just came back from teaching a workshop at Salt Lake City. This was my 1st demo. I have touched up some today to bring the demo painting to a finish look. I have been painting landscape for a while, but I know in my bones that I am not a good landscape painter intuitively. To improve my landscape paintings, I have to rely on my left brain to analyze what is going on. I have told my students during the workshop: we are not gifted enough to be good in art naturally. If you want to be good, you will do 3 things. 1. practice a lot. 2. use whatever tools you can access to. 3. Go quantitative instead of qualitative. 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Science of Warm and Cool


In painting, color temperature is such an ambiguous concept. For example: orange vs yellow, which one is warmer? Ultramarine vs phthalo blue, which one is cooler? Artists do not want to quantify their color temperature. Their argument is: color is so relative. We only see a color warmer or cooler with respect to another color. This fuzzy ambiguity bothers my engineering mind. So I went to the field of photography. Lo and behold! I found their concept of color temperature is so crispy clear. They quantified the color temperature using K or Kelvin. The "warm" colors have lower K, while "cool" ones higher K. Therefore: orange is warmer than yellow, violet is cooler than turquoise (so ultra is cooler than phthalo). I found a photographer's temperature scale online, and measured 11 color samples. I plot those samples on the CIELuv (pls ignore this nomenclature except the color scientists) color wheel. I was shocked by what I have found. Ah-ha!! Now I know. (1) For very warm colors (red to yellow, or 1 to 4) the temperature varies with the HUE change. Similarly for very cool colors (turquoise to violet, or 8 to 11). This finding reminds me the "prismatic palette" some artists talked about. They follow the rainbow when they paint. (2) For the moderate warm and cool colors (from yellow to blue, or 4 to 8), the temperature varies with the CHROMA change, then flip the hue at the center of the color wheel to the complementary. I feel this understanding can help us to paint better: when you deal with very warm colors like sunset, you can change temperature by hue shifting. However when you deal with grey and subtle colors, you change temperature by chroma variation. Voila!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Untamed Beauty


I have participated a plein air paint out last Sunday near Johnson City, Texas. It was a hot day (98F). I have learned from this painting was that my lightest value was actually rather dark. However, it appeared quite bright, feeling the hot Texas sun shined right on the concrete sidewalk. I don't have to use a lot of white to make something look bright, because we view color (and value) relatively. I painted the blue sky relatively dark, so the roof and sidewalk appeared brighter. I want to thank Carla Bosch, the Adams Galleries, and Untamed Wine Estates for making this event possible. I really appreciate they gave me the First Place award.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Shadow color study


This a small plein air study I did when was at Wayne PA. As a personal growth in painting, I have realized two major changes are happening. 1) I am no longer emphasize on the value. I tend to reduce my value range by brightened the shadow. This way the colors have more playing space. 2. I pay more attention to light colors rather than the local colors. This painting show more color play in the shadows, and the colors were generated mainly by light sources and reflections. The houses themselves do not have much local colors, but on the painting, they are really colorful. I know the color relationships on this one is still clumsy. My skills still need more time to improve. Hey, this was plein air. I felt very lucky I didn't get hit by a car when I paint this. I was too close to the busy traffic there.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Color of Colorless


"Color of Colorless" is a small study I did today. I put a white cube on a white board to make sure no local color got involved. I set two lights, one cool and one warm. The temperature contrast of the light sources produced all the colors for this painting. This study maybe the simplest way to demonstrate the warm and cool colors. Most people think the colors "belong" to objects, such as a lemon is yellow, a lime is green, and this cube is white. This "object color" understanding does not help a painter. We paint "perceived colors", which is the interaction among the light source colors, the object color reflectance, and environmental color contributions. If we can see the color (we often not), and be able to mix it, we can paint. 

Monday, June 5, 2023

Derek Penix Workshop


I am very happy to announce that Derek Penix will come back to Austin and teach a 3-day painting workshop on February 23 - 25, 2024. Derek is a contemporary master painter of using abstract design to present almost realistic subjects. His workshop "Loosen Up" is very popular and it will sold be out very quickly. I am not kidding. If you want to learn for this young master, please take action right now. Please check: for information and registration.