Friday, December 25, 2009

Update: three days in a raw

This would be the last update of this piece. Try finishing up foreground by putting different tones on the sagebrush then sharpening the edges to make it closer to viewers. Being careful with brush strokes as well. I might need to use some medium to make paint flow more smoothly. I would finish this over this holiday weekend.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Getting better with greens

Continuing from yesterday, I started adjusting greens to be better. It's coming along. I started getting a feeling that touching this section more would just ruin the entire painting. This means it's getting near the end of painting.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Came back to the background

I made the plateau a little lighter, then made the midground mound darker to show some depth. It was successful until I made the sky very light. It might end up ok after it dries up. I need to wait a couple of days. Meanwhile I need to make those greens better, more interesting. That would be the next step.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Covered Most of Canvas

I covered foreground with sagebrush and dried grass colors. The contrast with the other part was not as bad as I imagined. The background plateau still looks too close though. The foreground would become more clear when I refine the colors of sagebrush and the edges. But I re-realized the color transition of dried grass would define this painting, which I might have hard time finding.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lost sense of depth

Like I said, everything in colors is relative. When I covered most of background with local colors, the mid-section is now not dark enough. As the result, I can't see difference of the distances between the background and the midsection.
Instead of fixing this, I move on to the foreground next. Again, since these colors are relative, they would look different once I put colors on the foreground.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Finding values for background

After putting some sagebrush colors, I went to the background plateau and have been trying finding proper values. This part is always challenging for me for any landscape pieces. It's definitely relative to the values of foreground. But it seems to be still darker than I want it to be.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sketch for Still-life

Also I started considering objects and composition of a still-life piece for commission. This is the first version of rough sketch.

Quickly defining greens

Over this long weekend, I've been quickly working on the midsection, in other words, focal point of this painting, mainly center toward left. I tried defining the colors of greens against the dried grass color. I also put some reddish soil colors in the background to see the effect of greens.

Then I realized those greens were a little too light. Since they are still wet (even though I used some oil painting medium), I can't put any darker colors on top of them. It would just mud them up. I need to wait a couple of days at least.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fresh restart, again

After the last update, I abruptly finished Yakima River over the weekend. I thought it could be much better. But it didn't turn out as I expected when I started painting it months before. A part of the problems was it took too long. I could have finished a couple of months ago. Anyway, I'm now waiting for a short sun break, which is good enough to take a photo.

Then I came back to this piece Beyond the Horizon. The last update of this piece was (geez) more than two months ago. As you can see, there is not much dark part. Not much shadow in other words. I put the darkest dark along the green. Tone of this painting should be very light. I'll start working on the green and dried yellow ground around it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Finishing Sagebrush

I think this part is done. When I work on the water part, I'll curve out the edge of the sagebrush and the bank. And I might put some more highlight. But that's all I need to do to finish. I'll move on to finish the mid-section, water, next.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kept Working on Yakima River

I continually worked on Yakima River today. After adding a little more touches on the trees, I moved down to the reflections on the river. I made the lightest part of the river showing up and kept moving down. Now I need to start working on sagebrush at the bottom. Making proper colors that work with the rest of the part would be the key for the bottom part.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Color adjustment on trees

After coming back from the opening reception of Georgetown Atelier, I worked on the trees on the right. I knocked out some greenish green, which wasn't matching any part of trees, then put lighter colors for highlighted part. They're still not exactly what I wanted them to be, but a step closer to the final. I might need to come back and put darker colors for the shadows. Most of the trees actually have much darker part. Maybe tomorrow.

Georgetown Atelier was set up in a unit of Sabey's Creative Space, re-developed from the old Rainier Brewery building. Very traditional drawing sessions from sculptures and from nude models were going on this quarter. I might have some skills to tackle those but probably don't have enough patience to continue doing that. After all I don't have any degrees in FA(Fine Art).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Changing Direction

Recently I've been very busy and didn't have time to even think about my painting. I'm going back to work tonight but had some time before that to experiment what I thought I could apply out of the last workshop by Michele. The photo is the left top corner of Yakama River. I intentionally painted the lightest part before added more colors to surrounding areas. Even though the brush strokes are far from satisfaction, this corner of the canvas is getting vibrant and interesting, compared to the other dull parts. At this moment I'm not using medium but I might start using it to make paint flow.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Michele Usibelli's workshop on Whidbey Island

I took a day off on Friday to attend this Fri-Sat workshop at Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio, which is located at an artist's, Cary Jurriaans's, residence on the island. Day 1 we worked on still life then from photographs for day 2. In the photos above, four still lives are from day 1 and the figurative painting is from day 2 that I painted from a photo Michele brought in (the man resembles me but not myself). The size of the surfaces is relatively small. From top left toward bottom right; bread 8"x8", plum 9"x12", apple 11"x14", vase and fruits 12"x16", man in front of a painting 11"x14".

Even though I struggles with smaller brushes with smaller surfaces, which I intentionally avoided in the past, I've learned some key components of Michele's aproach, and many other artists' in this style, and found them applicable to mine. That means I need to make some changes to my own style.

Those key components are:
  1. first, sketch well with paint to define the composition and larger shapes. (Michele has background with architecture).
  2. use dark wash to define the darkest dark and some darker areas. Most of them shows up in the final painting.
  3. define lightest areas of focal points in this stage and work toward mid values from both sides.
  4. dark part is mainly thin only with thiner. Lighter part is thicker with medium.
  5. curve in the edge of shapes by painting surrounding background.
She uses the same technique with up to 3'x3' size. For bigger surfaces, she just changes brushes to bigger ones, according to her answer to my question.

I want to try some more with these components myself then adopt whatever works for my lanscape paintings, and other subjects. It might not work at all if my skills don't allow it. But I'm hoping I can transform my style to be better.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Further Modification

On 10/10 I posted a photo of the first revision of the stretched canvas holder for the top box of my motorcycle. But it turned out that I couldn't close the box when I put both the holder and the field easel in. So, I needed to cut one third of it to lower the height as you can see in this photo. Now it can hold only one canvas.
In addition to this modification, I went to art supply shopping today to Utrecht and Daniel Smith for the coming workshop by Michele Usibelli ( at the end of the month. I went through the material list last night and placed an order on-line for the items I can't get at any local shops. As an artist in Russian Impressionist style, her selection of paints is quite expensive. I made a compromise not to strictly follow the list. For most of the colors in the list, I would never use again after the workshop anyway. I'll stretch smaller canvas in 9"x12" and "11"x14" with stretcher bars I bought at Utrecht. I've never tried these small sizes, except for the tiny boards I tried in Machel Maxi's workshot at Pratt.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Trees need color variations

The far ridge and ground are now almost in final values. Then tried to set the light colors for the tree on the right bank. But failed to come up with the right values. Too light compared to the other part. The greens of the trees need different kinds of greens to make this painting interesting. That would be the very next step I need to try.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gadget for Top Case

In a week or so, I'll pick up my new motorcycle at the shop where I got my scooter last year. I love the 180 cc scooter, which is fast enough to get on the highway and economical to ride for commute. But it's not strong enough to ride over the passes to get to the east side of the mountains, or go to Portland or Belingham. So I decided to upgrade it to a motorcycle with a 750 cc engine. It's called Nevada Classic from Moto Guzzi.
I already have a 45 l top box on the back of my scooter. It happens to be big and wide enough to put my handmade field easel and a 12"x16" stretched canvas inside. I'll put it on the motorcycle once I got it. Now I need a mechanism to hold wet canvas in the case. The one in the photo can hold two canvases. Then I'll stack the easel on top of it. That's my current plan.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Vase Arrived

I came home today from work to find a box sitting on my front porch. I ordered this vase a couple weeks ago. I was looking for one to paint a still-life from for a commission piece. When I saw this at a web site, I liked the simplicity in shape and mild colors of "Ume" tree on it. I knew it'd be difficult to paint the fine cracks on the surface (you might not be able to see them even if you enlarge the pic) but I thought I might just ignore them.
I'll gather some more objects to paint with, likely flowers and fruits or vegetables, before start working on the piece (remember I'm working on three pieces now). Unlike my regular subjects, I need to sketch and paint quickly before flowers, fruits and veggies are getting discolored or out-of-shape.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shapes are still bothering me

I found sagebrush at the bottom was lower than it should, which was causing the shape of water unpropotional. But I still feel the river bank on the right isn't quite right. This feeling was from the beginning. I need to get it right now before I go with thicker layers. It's about time to do that otherwise this will never get finished.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New Animal Piece

I started the third piece while keep working on two landscapes. I brought back some pictures of sheep from last Yakima trip. I was originally thinking a goat painting but none of the photos I took there was good. I didn't intentionally start drawing sheep vertically. I was painting the sides of the stretched canvas with raw umber and waited for the top and the bottom sides to dry. It actually worked better, I guess.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Back to the first Yakima painting

After getting through the forest on the right bank, I'm working on bigger shape's positions on the left bank. They're still unproportional to each other. At this early stage, I'm not worrying much about the colors. But still closing the gap with the final values and temperatures.
I'm about to leave home to do some shopping in downtown (well, again art materials at Utrecht) and see Mariners game against Yankees. I haven't gone to see any ball game for last 10 years or so. I just want to see Ichiro and Jr. who might retire at the end of the season. Then hopefully they would win the game.

Monday, September 14, 2009

2nd Yakima Painting

I just started a new Yakima painting in my studio basement. The title would be "Beyond the Horizon". 20"x26". Only less than half of canvas was covered with complimentary underpainting colors. But the composition and layout are clear already. The color contrast of midground greens would be the key to a success.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Along Umtanum Road

I took the same route in opposite direction from Naches to go over highland to get to Ellensburg today, which I drove yesterday to get to Yakima. Today I had a plan painting along the road, not only driving back toward Ellensburg. Before getting on the road, I got a ticket earlier this morning while I was passing Naches Hights. I didn't realize there was a school there. 8:30 in Tue morning. Probably the first day at the school. The officer was sympathetic but gave me a ticket for $211 fine. Anyway, the new gadget worked very well as I imagined. I didn't have to lay down a brush stand on the ground. The new paint thinner container was also very effective. It's hanging at the bottom of the tripod.
Umtanum Ridge is on the south side of the road. I couldn't quite catch the lights and paint on the canvas. But I think I caught the colors of the ridge relatively well. The foreground with sagebrush is always tough to paint quickly on-site. I'll paint this in a bigger format sometime this year.
After all it was a very nice short vacation trip to Yakima.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

New Accessory for Trial

I attached a simple humble brush&knife holder to my field easel. I'm going to try this new accessory Mon-Tue during Yakima trip. I hope it would work as I intended. We'll see.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Palette

By the way, this is my palette while I was working on the background town. Those paints are burnt umber, quinacridone red, yellow orchre, hansa yellow light, ultra marine blue, cobalt blue, and Utrecht white(mixture of titanium white and zinc white). It's quite simple and clean if you compare it with regular artist palettes. I tend not to make many colors one time and use the same, or a little tinted/darkened, colors in multiple areas on canvas. Which is good and bad. It would give viewers more easing feeling because viewer can see color patterns on one painting. But it might fall into a pit like monotonous or dull result. Or at least I need to take more time to clean up the palette to make different types of colors. But it's also necessary because I want to make more amount of color mixtures to make layers of paint a little more thicker than I use to make. To do that, I need more surface on my palette for one mixture.

Anyhow, this is how I make colors now.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I wanna finish this piece...

This would be the final update for this Wenatchee painting. The background hill started getting too realistic even though the layers of paints don't really overlap and you can see almost all layers just like collage if you take a close look at it. I need to stop working on that part.

I'm going to refine some details of trees' highlighted part and the town behind them. Then less-darken the shadow of trees and add some color variations to the water. That's about it to finish this piece.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Not see the forest for the trees...

Maybe I'm too concerned about the detail of the trees. I guess it's about time to step back and stay away from the area where I've been working on.

I'll go back to the background hill and finish it first. There are still some areas where I can see the underpainting layer. Then I can come back again to the tree area to finish this piece. It's taking too much time.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Another Hot Day in Yakima Valley

I stayed Yakima last night then this morning drove through Union Gap along Route 97 and made a right turn toward west. I kept driving west bound a while to get to almost at the end of Medicine Valley. Beyond there, no more paved roads into Yakima Indian Reservation.

On the road side, there were cattle and horse ranches and a lot of hay fields. I first thought I would paint hay fields with sprinklers sprinkling water from the typical "rolling" systems. But I changed my mind.

The composition and even colors are unintentionally similar to "East of the Mountains". The mountain in this is, of course, Mt. Adams. This one has more green in the middle range though.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hot weekend. But more to come...

It was quite hot weekend. But I went to Bellevue Arts Fair on Sunday. There were more than 300 booths in the garage of Bellevue Squire and along the access road. This was my first time there because it happens in the same weekend with Alki Art Fair every year. As I expected, not so many 2D painter's booths. Just like West Seattle Street Fair. People were there to enjoy "stuff", which is not necessarilly to be fine art. But I'm sure there were much more poeple than Alki Art Fair can bring in. Nice summer entertainment event, for sure.

Tonight, I worked on the Yakima River a little bit. I'm still defining the positions of bigger shapes and those shapes themselves. It's still in drawing stage. I'll gradually get to the colors.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's been more than four months...

Unlike most of painters, I'm making progress very slowly. Or some might say I'm not making much progress. I can't deny that. However, that seems to be my style to get there eventually to express my emotion toward each piece. At least so far.

I worked on the background hill side a while. I toned down the contrast between lighter and darker parts. I still need to make lighter part more lighter. I think. But it's getting closer to what I want it to be. I tried more redish color for the darker shadow part once. It didn't work well. So I ended up with bluish purple for the part.

I'll come back to the trees again next.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Started Vibrating...

Finally, I started putting highlighted colors. I tried expressing subtle color variations by using Hansa yellow light and cadmium yellow medium. For these intense orangish yellows, I had to use the cadmium color, which I regularly avoid. Now the colors of poplars started vibrating on canvas.

I haven't committed with those colors just yet. But wanted to make highlighted part a little highlighted before finalizing the colors of the background hill. Next, I'll work on the water.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Experiment with "Orchards"

I went to Yakima again for July 4th weekend. I enjoyed local fireworks last night. Then I drove around orchards near Sunnyside, Granger, Zillah this morning. I couldn't determine where to paint. Then finally picked this spot along Konnowac Pass Rd.

I had had this idea quite a while, painting orchards. As I expected, I had a problem getting perspective right. Then how to paint rows of apple trees. Also subtle color changes from an orchard to another. Some might be grapes, or apricots. Or just a different kind of apples. This time I made them enough dark though.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Background hill is coming along

Background hill started coming along. Using reddish purple I gradually adjusted the shapes of the shadows, and filled lighter part with tilted colors. At this moment I still need to keep pushing values. But in the end, I'll fade the hill away to put focus on the poplars, which is the next part I'll work on. I want to put more lights on the part.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another Yakima Visit

Saturday, about 9PM, technically 1h 45min before summer officially starts, I was approaching Yakima from south on I-82. Oldies like Supremes, Marvin Gay, and so on, were on the radio. I lost consciousness about who and where I am for a moment....just amazed by the scenery.
Next morning, I drove up Canyon Road, SR-821, toward Ellensburg. And set up my easel along Yakima river. The trees' green on the left side was showing a good contrast with the dried grass's yellow, which I couldn't recreate well on the canvas. Ironically that was why I picked this spot instead of rocky canyon views. Also, I should have made it darker as you can easily see. I spent about two hours and a half there until noon. It was not hot but breezy. I felt even chilly.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Start with "Yakima River"

22"x30". Started with very thin layers to draw the shapes. Since the photo was taken in my dark basement (as usual) it's difficult to see the values. I know. But I need to push values to make dark darker.

I'll go to Yakima this weekend to paint another scene.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Started working on this again

Due to demand of my day job, I couldn't work on any pieces a while. I finally did it tonight. I flipped the canvas back to the normal orientation. I tried more reddish purple on the hill. I still can't decide what colors I want to use for the hill. Only idea I have now is I want to make the colors a little more reddish to keep harmony with the colors of the trees. It would cause them to go away from the real colors I saw. But so be it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Flip side of view

To paint the reflection of the populars against the river, I flipped the canvas upside down. But what I realized was the values of the darker part were not dark enough at the bottom of the trees. I worked on those areas and started changing colors on the hill side. Maybe I should start putting lights to decide the colors.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Started going field again

I haven't gone any field trips for a while. I felt I needed to go out again. So I did it this memorial day holiday weekend. To avoid traffic jams, I drove to Yakima last night and stayed at Motel6. Then drove east to find a spot to paint this morning.

It's between Granger and Sunnyside along Emerald-Granger Rd. Yakima River makes a sharp turn and forks there. It's inevitable that any landscape painters trespass someone's property. I set up my easel just outside of the entrance gate of a property and next to a mail box. When I just finished painting, a pickup truck pulled over at the gate and a man asked me what I was doing. Fortunately he didn't have a shot-gun but his wife in the passenger seat. She liked my painting. I apologized and left there right away.

When I was working on the trees, top part, I felt I got a way wet-in-wet would work. The key was, again, the shadows. Shadows need to be dark, which provide contrast with lighted part and make it impressive. I didn't spend enough time to finish the bottom, sagebrush, part. I ran out of patience.

I'm thinking I'll keep going Yakima Valley this summer. Last one year or so I kept going Wenatchee Valley. It's time for a change.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How to paint the hill?

I don't remember how long I didn't make any progress on this piece. About a month, or more? Actually no others are going on. Due to my possible life changing event related to my business life, un-related to art making, I couldn't spend much time on painting. And no time for field trip to paint outside on weekends. I managed myself to frame all pieces I'm plaining to show in the next show though.

Every time I saw this piece for last a month or so, I kept wondering how I should, or can, paint the hill that is providing the context to those colorful popular trees. I still haven't gotten the answer yet.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Probably last update for "Pals"

From here, I would make some color adjustment for some particular parts, which probably can't be seen well in this resolution of photos w/ this level of lights. I'm still not satisfied with the browns of the left horse. I want to put more highlights to them as well. I might make the ground thicker too. And some other things I want to do....
Anyway, it's nearing to the end for sure.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Getting more colorful

Whiling filling colors for the background hill, I started questioning myself about the colors of the hill. The reference photo is showing too bluish colors. To make up my mind, I went to Wenatchee last weekend to see actual colors. Since the season is spring, instead of autumn, the hill was more greenish with short grass. But it was mainly yellow-brownish. My on-site painting was likely more closer to the actual colors.
I started putting light yellows for the poplars just to see the balance of the colors. I need to put some more colors on the water to see the balance well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Looking for right colors

Shapes are almost done. Started looking for colors. I tested some highlighted reddish colors with the left horse. I'm not satisfied yet. While waiting for them to dry, I'll add some more layers on the right horse next.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Autumn in Wenatchee Valley

I started this painting that I originally painted on site last fall. I really liked unbalanced contrast between the yellow poplars along the river and the bare hill.
I don't exactly remember the actual colors of the hill side. In the reference photo, it's more bluish while I painted brownish on site. Only thing I remember is I intentionally changed the color at that time for whatever the reason was. I may need to visit there again to decide the colors.
Anyway, the size is 26"x20". I just played with underpainting.