Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sagebrush starts popolating...

After shaping outlines of mountains, I put local colors for the sky. Then tried putting some foreground grass colors, which I found too early. Instead I started coloring sagebrush. At this moment, I'm cautious not to make those too light.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Some modifications to Proto-type 1

Even though I cleared snow from the side walk this morning, a couple of inches of new snow is already on the ground before getting dark and it's still snowing outside.
Anyhow, I worked on the prototype this weekend and I guess I'm done with it for now. I got two of simple hinge supports on the internet and connected them together to make it adjustable. Now it opens as wide as 105 degrees or less. Then I did some wood work to shape a piece to slide into the space under the top plate of the tripod. It's tight. But the box still swings when I tap the edge downward. It's better than before though. The legs of the tripod are not strong enough and as the result they warp as I tap the box. I think this is all I can expect from a $28 tripod.
I might attach some metal pieces to keep the box closed for transportation. But otherwise I'm reasonably satisfied with the outcome of this prototype 1. Total material cost was, I think, about $60-70. I'll use this for plein air painting for a while until I come up with a new idea.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Last two Plein Air Paintings

The first one was painted on 10/26 (see the blog on the day) along Columbia River near Rocky Reach Dam with my french easel. Then the second one was painted near Quincy with the prototype easel on 12/6. It's getting better with dark&light contrast.

Snow in Seattle

Snow in this time of the year may be normal to many of you. But not for Seattleans. Probably about an inch or two of snow is on the ground this morning. Even though we had a white Chrismas Eve last year, this is not usual for us to have snow on the ground in the middle of December. We have no snow on the ground at all for some years.

Whatever, we'll just enjoy one of spectacular shows that mother nature brings us.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Result of Trial

Last Saturday, I drove east with the prototype tripod easel and got to Columbia river near Quincy. I spent about an hour and a half there for painting. I'll post the painting later but I want to write about the easel today. It worked almost as I expected except for two issues.
The first issue was stableness or firmness of the box while I'm painting. It's reasonably acceptable but I felt a little weakness when I pushed my brushes against a 16"x12" stretched canvas. Especially when I was painting away from the center toward the right edge. The main cause seems to be the structure of the platform at the top of the tripod. It's a sort of "C" shaped mechanism to let it lean up to 90 degrees toward left as you can see in the photo on the left. It definitely makes me easier to mount the box though. I may be able to find another one that is more steady. But it would be expensive. Instead, I'll try putting a piece of wood underneath of the platform to support the top plate.
The second issue was the supporting mechanism of top half of the box (picture on the right). The chanin worked fine to ajust the angle and support it not to open too wide. The problem was with the wood stick to support it not to fold down. Basically it's not adjustable. I tried tacking it between two cross-supporting wood as in the pic. Didn't work well. After I came back home, I ordered a set of metalic hinge support on-line because I coudn't find a simple one I needed at any hardware shops, like Home Depot. I'll try attaching them to replace the chain and the wood sticks.
After these adjustments, I'll try this again at somewhere.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Prototype I

I finished the first prototype of the field tripod easel. 6 lb (My french easel is 10 lb). About 16"x13"x3.5" for the box part. The tripod is a cheap one and may be a little too weak. I need to put this to the test.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Make it darker

By remembering the problem with "Animal Trail", I pushed the dark part further. With this base, I hope I won't be lost in value differences between lighter colors. I can always compare it with darker values. Now I can directly try making local colors.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hand-made field easel

Before the thanksgiving holiday starts, I started working on a hand-made field easel. My motivation and reason why I decided making my own are....
- My french easel is heavy and hard to set up in the field in some cases.
- Better field easels available on the market are 1) expensive, and 2) designed only for small canvas boards, 9"x11" or smaller.
So, my key objectives for this handmade easel are:
a) relatively light weight
b) for 12"x16" stretched canvas
c) attached on a tripod

I researched some more on the internet and found an artist's YouTube site showing how to make an own tripod easel. I modified his idea to fit my objectives above. Then started building it. So far I encountered some hurdles to clear, like how to firm the rod to hold the top of the stretched canvas and a mechanizm to fix the angle of the canvas vertically. I'm clearing those issues one by one now.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Changing my mind...

I changed my mind and put under painting on top of previous layer. With this way I don't have to worry about bare white gessoed portions left between colored parts. Basically I tried complementary colors but not consistent. The dried grass part became too dark, which is making me a little worrying that if this would work when I put local light colors. We'll see.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Putting my signature before finishing

As usual, I put my signature before finishing this piece. Actually I put my signature on the all three pieces of this series.
I still can't be satisfied with the colors of all cow's bodies. I put more reddish-purplish colors for lighter part. But I felt it didn't quite right. Also felt too light.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not much more to add for "A"

Although it's hard to see the colors in this photo, I'm satisfied with the background of this side. Making some adjustment with shapes of the cows. But not much. I'm almost done with this piece.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Layout is done

Rough positioning of major shapes are decided. I can jump into thicker paint application any time. As long as I can come up with the right colors though. Also I need to think about the direction of lights. It was late morning or early afternoon. Sun was high and a little behind me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Getting into details - Stampede Series

Gradually getting into details for tone changes of cows and shapes of their paws. I'm still looking for the right mixture of paints for lighter colors of their bodies. That would be the key of this series to pull viewers onto the paintings.

Friday, October 31, 2008

East of the Mountains - Studio version

I started working on East of the Mountains in my studio. 24"x34". I had been thinking if I should take the post and the berbed wire fence a while. But I decided leaving them in. It would be very interesting how the colors of the mountains and rolling hills would end up.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Autumn in Apple Valley

I stayed at Wenatchee last night then went out for painting this morning.
I climbed up a rocky hill along Columbia River to set my easel, where I was surrounded by animal bones, likely a mountain goat or some sort. I tried hard but I couldn't recreate the colorful poplar trees on the canvas. Also the contrast between shadowed part and lighted part was not clear enough. It ended up quite flat painting. I'll definitely try again on a bigger format.

Even though my straggling, I really liked the scenery. I'll come back around Wenatchee before all are covered by snow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Slowly coming to life

Slowly making progress on cattle. They're gradually coming to life. I need to play with colors more.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seeking "truth"

Yesterday, when I was browsing galleries in Seattle, a series of abstract paintings got my attention. The artist's name was James Brown. At the receptionist's desk, I read his artist statement and understood why they pulled my attention. He wrote "...what I am looking for is truth. I will paint and paint...and eventually, if I am lucky, I will start to see certain colors, or lines, or patterns that ring of truth. When I see these, my speed picks up..." I saw the process he described on his pieces as well as the truth he found through the process.

My process is somewhat similar in terms of finding colors and brush marks, I think. I can't get to the goal spontaneously. With this "Stampede Series" I'm working on the background pasture now to seek something that ring of truth. I haven't gotten there yet. I'll keep trying.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Last Piece of Stampede Series

This is the last piece of this series. Rough shapes of cows are almost done. Now I need to work on the background for all three pieces at the same time to keep consistency of colors and their values.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Moving on to the 3rd piece

Outlines of the shapes for the 2nd piece of the "stampede" series are about to be done. The background of this piece is now about the same level with the 1st piece. Now it's time to start the 3rd, and the last, piece.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

East of the Mountains

This is the title of David Guterson's second best seller book after "Snow Falling on Cedars". I've been thinking using this title for my painting a while. I think it's time for that. I painted at 4 - 5 miles south from Ellensburg after passing Shashuskin Canyon. After passing the canyon, the view from the hillside was spectacle. I pulled over and set up my easel. Although the colors and values are a little off and kids in a family who had a field trip to learn geology commented "it doesn't look like it". But I don't care what others think and I was actually pleased with the outcome. Originally I thought I wouldn't paint the barbed wire fence, but the stick provided a good guidance to define the positions of shapes in a wide open space. I took it in instead. I'll paint this in bigger format later this year.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Chauvet Cave Painting?

In the second part of the stampede series there are many cows running. So, I wanted to draw them a little more in detail than I regularly do. Especially positions of paws would decide speed of their movement. As the result, it looks as if Chauvet's cave paintings in France. Thinking about the fact that I'm painting this from a photo, I need to admit that Chauvet's paintings were far more sophisticated.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Color Coordination in a Series

The shapes of cows have almost been determined. Now it's time to decide colors and textures of background pastures. But the background colors and textures need to be consistent throughout this series of paintings. So, I'll put this aside for now and start working on the 2nd painting of the series.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Slow Progress and Early Determination

I've been spend too much time on this painting. I should have reached this level or stage much earlier. The problem was colors of the trees. Since I couldn't make right colors, the difference of greens kept me away from my satisfaction. Then I kept trying another color, another one, and again another.... I'll finish this this weekend. Or even earlier.

This one, on the other hand, wouldn't take so long to be finished. Shapes of cows are almost done. I started concerning about brush marks. I may finish this almost at the same time I finish the "yellow hill".

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Along SH-10

I got up earlier this morning and drove my CR-V toward east on I-90. I was thinking painting Yakima River near Ellensburg on south side of the hwy. But I couldn't find any access road to get close to the river. However, that defeated feeling opened up an opportunity to browse the opposite side of the hwy. And by quite an accident, I found SH-10 along the river was a scenic road only 16 mile stretch connecting US-97 and SH-970 between Cle Elum and Ellensburg. I loved the scenery! Unfortunately I forgot my Fuji digital camera to take shots. But I painted there anyway.

Last time, when I painted at south of St. Helens, I forgot to put any red tubes in my french easel. This time, I brought permanent red, transparent iron exide, and arizarin crimson. But I didn't have to use much of those. I picked a spot I could see distinctive desert hills behing young and old sage brushes. I liked the color of young sage brush. I probably didn't capture it well in this painting. But I promised myself I would come back there to paint again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Keep Running Cattle...

Another series of cattle. This time I'm going to challenge myself with a herd of cattle in action, stampede. The photo was taken back in June on my way to Columbia Gorge. I didn't intend to frighten them but while I was taking some photos they suddenly started running away. I enlarged the original and cut it into three pieces horizontally. This is the left piece. Since it was clouded, the photo was not so clear. Blurred after it was magnified. They were black. So, it would be challenging for me to paint them from the photo. I need to forget about the detail but focus on subtle color and value changes and exaggerate them in this series of painting. The size is 10"x25".

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Light starts falling onto canvas

Well, as you know, I'm not an impressionist. Rather I establish impressions on the canvas as I work on the piece. I did it again. I'm still adjusting shapes of the cow. But now I started putting lights in Spring morning. I would probably put more contrast between lights and shadows than the reference photo.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More Green Layers

I keep adding more layers of greens for waves of trees. I haven't determined the final values yet though. I'm still experimenting. But it's about time to make the determination. At the same time it's time to get thicker.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

West Seattle Street Fair

This weekend, a street fair is going on at Alaska Junktion. Some music performances can be seen on YouTube. I was a part of the festival by sitting at our artist association's tent in front of ArtsWest for two hours yesterday. What I was doing with another member artist of the association was promoting new members to our association. I was mostly sketching people walking by. Then another artist was talking to those people to explain who we are. Some kids asked me to sketch them. It didn't work so well, as you can imagine. But some had good capture of shapes.
Anyway, most importantly I enjoyed sketching and interacting with people there.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cow's ready to walk

As I promised, widened the value range by making dark darker and light lighter. Colorwise, I want to make some lighter part to more orangish. Then I'll put more highlight to make it walk in spring sun. It's already getting to the final stage.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Values of Greens

At this stage, I'm still trying covering the entire canvas with paint. At the same time, I'm experimenting values of greens. My recipe of greens is simple: Hansa Yellow Light and Ultra Marine Deep and a little bit of Prussian Blue. Once I covered it, I would be able to adjust the positions of shadow shapes, that would make this painting more interesting w/ some depth. Probably it would come naturally as I continue working on.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

More Spontaneity - Spring Walk

It could be a good idea spending some solid time in my cool basement when the outside is in upper eighties, which I did today and made a good progress for a new piece, Spring Walk. 18"x10". After some sketching on canvas, I left this piece there a while. But today I spent about 2 hours to test my sense of color and values in wet-in-wet manner only with a No.10 brush. More like plein air. The outcome was surprisingly superb. Even though the proportion of the cow is a little off (thinner), it shows good sense of value differences. I could have made it much darker, I guess. That I would do when this dries up.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Back in Business

This month, I coudln't make much progress after the last holiday. But finally re-started working on something. Instead of working on straggling Skagit Valley because I couldn't get colors right, I started working on a new piece from the last plein air. 22"x30". This Yellow Hill is about the composition, some key lines (diagonal and horizontal) and shadow part of trees. The focal point is distinctive trees at the intersection of those key lines at upper left.
I now think I've instinctively chosen to paint this on-site because of these points, in addition to colors.
This time, I painted sides of streached canvas w/ burnt umber. This attempt is experimental. I got this idea from my last Seattle Artwalk.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Recent Plein Air

I missed the best opportunity of painting outside on Memorial Dal weekend Saturday, when I and my friend went out for artwalk in Seattle. It was a gorgeous day. But I couldn't give up and tried getting the last piece of it in early Sunday morning. I stayed in Silverdale Saturday night then drove over Hood Canal Floating Bridge. Before the weather got worse, I settled myself on the beach on the west side of Hood Canal. I thought the good chunk of landmass on the canal was an island. But actually it was connected to Olympic Peninsula, called Hood Head. I figured this after I got home. Since the weather was changing quickly, so was light. I tried capturing subtle color changes of the trees but failed. Then I needed to leave there before rain started. I may try again this summer.

A week later, I went down to Columbia River Gorge but I decided painting on Columbia Hills on WA side. I liked more rounded shaped landscape over the hills that particular day. And it had more colorful greens and yellows. I'm satisfied with the contrast between the yellow hill and dark greens of the forest in a small valley that I could recreated on the canvas.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Everything is dark at the beginning. Especially the Skagit needs to become very colorful, it stays on the dark side at this stage.

Raccoon would lose the edge because the background is very dark at night. I'm imagining it would become just like a traditional portrait, balancing lost dark edges and highlighted part.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Painting for Skagit Valley

I decided painting the tulip field in Skagit Valley from the photo I took the other day. I didn't paint on site at that time. But the colors were quite impressive and I can still remember visually. So I broke the rule "paint on-site before paint in studio".

On the other hand, I didn't paint on-site often lately anyway. The size is 18"x26".

Saturday, May 10, 2008

13th Annual Greenwood Phinney ArtWalk

Even though I couldn't be a part of this artwalk in the North Seattle neighborhood as an artist, I got more of it by browsing a quarter of 72 venues today, which I wouldn't be able to do if I was showing my pieces. Each venue was local business along Greenwood Ave N and Phinney Ave N, from a salon, bookstore, yarn shop, restaurant to a church. Half of artists was juried participants and the other half was resident artists. The media was from photography, oil, acrylic, bronze to pottery and knit/sawing. One thing in common among those was contemporary. Now I understand why I couldn't make it.

I definitely enjoyed the artwalk. But I'm not sure if I would try again to be a part of it next year. Two photos below are some of shows that I liked.
Jennifer Phillips : oil

Ron Schmitt & Ric Hall (collaboration) : pastel

New Pastel Piece: Raccoon

After wrapping up Valley Creek, which would be on my web site soon, I started a relatively small (about 18"x18") pastel piece.

Since it's been more than two years from Meditation - Yellow-pine Chipmunk, I completely forgot how to draw animals with pastel.

It would be good for me to try something different with completely fresh mind.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Wenatchee Trip

Current "Valley Creek" is at the final stage. Then I didn't have any other pieces I could work on next. Luckily the weather was expected to be good today. So I took off with my stuff last night. Stayed at a motel in Wenatchee. Then painted at the site a little south from Chelan along Columbia River, or Lake Entiat this morning.

The cliff is on the opposite side of the water. I thought about the composition a while if I would put the water in, or not. But I decided putting the apple orchard on the center. Most of apple trees in the valley were full bloom. Workers were busy watering, fertilizing, or pollination. At the end, I felt I failed to capture and put shadows into this painting. I spent about 2.5h on site.

I would come back and paint some others. I like the balance between desert and water in addition to human effort to build orchards in the valley.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Easel Modification

I adjusted values of trees and mountains in the background tonight. It's getting close to the final stage. From here, I would adjust colors of snow. Currently left side is too cool and right side is too warm. This was my original intention but doesn't look like a piece of painting. I need to decide how to handle this problem.

A week before, I upgraded my main studio easel. Not by buying a new one. But by modifying the current one with a saw and a drill. I had been considering getting a Best Santa Fe I, which is more than $500. But the main reason I was considering this was my current Best Dulce's (that was about $250) back supports are not as high as I want them to be except for the center post. As the result, a bigger canvas like 24"x32" or more is not stable when I paint top corners on both sides.

But after thinking this many times, I concluded it's too expensive for me. Then I suddenly came up with an alternative solution as you can see in the photo. It costs only about $15 for hard wood, screws, nuts and bolts from a Home Depot.

Japanese ingenuity!