Daily painting 05-30-2017 (#6)

This is my first oil painting but in so many ways it is informed by my watercolor painting. In so many ways art is just art, the techniques may vary but what works in one medium works in others. 

I worked from a picture for this one, and since I am still learning how this medium works, my goal was not to make a realistic rendition. I was more interested in making the painting look interesting despite my lack of skill with the techniques. I feel that i was able to achieve that in this study.  And considering this is my first oil painting ever, I am really kind of proud of it.


Daily painting 05-25-2017 (#1)

After many weeks (or is it months?) of crazy work and travel schedule I am happy to be back to painting again. 

At this point, being staved of art for so long, I am ready paint like a mad person and also I like challenges. I was reading Carole Marine's book on daily painting and that gave me the idea to try it myself.

Good or bad, small or big, do a painting everyday and share it here - this is what I hae challenged myself. 

Today's painting is a copy of Hazel Soan's painting from her book. Master copies is a great way to learn, and I always learn a lot when I copy paintings I admire. The idea is not to make an exact copy, but is to make a study of the painting and make mental notes on the learnings while creating the study.


Daily painting 05-26-2017 (#2)

Today's master study is a copy of John Lidzey's "Flowers in the studio".

I found this painting while looking through Hazel Soan's Flower Painting Workshop book.


For tomorrow's study I want to repeat the same painting but with a little Tom Hoffmann thrown in, i.e. paint the shapes first and think about how much farther in the painting process do the elements need to be seperated.

Floral practice

Its been a long hiatus since I last posted. The main reason for that was the Tom Hoffmann's Melaque Workshop that I was part of (I am in the process of writing blog posts about this workshop, stay tuned). Between recovering from the workshop I taught and getting ready for Tom's workshop, I just didn't have enough mental space to write.

Now that all that is behind me, I am trying to get back into my sharing mode. 

This week I am painting florals in preparation for the Floral and Still Life workshop that I am taking this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing Mike Kirschel, who was my first art teacher, a wonderful artist and teacher who has since relocated out of this area. The workshop is actually in oil/acrylic but I am going to be bringing watercolors. Mike doesn't let the medium get in the way of teaching making good art, and I really appreciate that about him. 

Anyway, getting back to practicing florals, I am really moved by the beautiful florals by Fabio Cembranelli. I have been watching his youtube videos and trying to figure out how he does what he does. There is not much information on the web about his process, so it really is becoming detective work :-)

It will take me a couple of decades to do the kind of things that Fabio does, but I learned a few things so far :

1. Strong composition with hard and soft edges, fuzzy wet-in-wet shapes juxtaposed with sharp, gestural marks with the rigger are the most important aspects of Fabio's painting. This is probably the trickiest thing of all, as it is mostly about developing the intuition about which marks are most fluent and make those decisions quickly while the paper is still wet.
2. He claims he works wet-in-wet entirely, and I have been trying to figure out what enables him to paint in this manner. One thing that I learned is that when painting wet-in-wet, using flat brushes is most helpful because they carry less water and less likely to dump a whole bunch of water on the paper causing blooms. 
3. To get the kind of luminosity and lightness of Fabio's florals, I think we need to use transparent pigments. Also since we are painting completely wet-in-wet, it is important for these pigments to be low staining as well. 

I did a few attempts today, and these two are the most successful.

Florals are easy and tricky at the same time. If you do it right, you just need a few strokes to paint a flower. But it is extremely hard to get those few strokes right, especially so in watercolor :-) 

Still, they are a good way to push the paint around during days when time is at a premium, and hope that the practice will amount to something some day.

Orange rose

I am enjoying doing these videos. I paint for ten minutes, edit the video for an hour and then all the uploads and everything take another hour. It is time-consuming but a fun new thing that I am learning to do, which is good. I am still trying to figure out things like lighting, GoPro settings and editing the video. It will take a while for me to figure it all out, but in the meantime I better figure out how I should store the gigs and gigs of data this video-making is producing :-)

Today's painting is a quick floral study. I like doing these because they lend themselves beautifully to watercolor, the organic shapes provide a wonderful opportunity to practice brush work, incorporate hard and soft edges, and play with color. I hope you enjoy this video.


Floral Study 2

My parents got me the gift of nature for my birthday. My mom cleaned out the pots in the patio (the carnage of dead plants, neglected during our recent trips) and they shopped for new plants to go in the pots. 

They looked so pretty, and the patio looked so inviting that I took the opportunity to do some floral studies from them. 

In terms of technique, I kept it loose and used a spray bottle, for the very first time, to diffuse edges. I love the effect!

floral study

World Watercolor Month #20

This past week I have been watching Charles Reid Flower painting video, and have been inspired to try some floral arrangements. One thing he said resonated with me. He said that he doesn't paint flowers because he is passionate about flowers, or knows the different flower varieties ... he enjoys painting flowers because it gives him an opportunity to work with shapes and color.

That is precisely what I enjoyed about today's painting.

World Watercolor Month #18

I picked a floral subject for today's exercise because I think they are the perfect subject for practicing design, simplifying complexity into simple shapes, trying out many many lovely colors.

This painting is inspired from an exercise from Watercolor Simplified. I used a number of transparent pigments for this painting - quin gold, phthalo blue, quin rose. I may have dipped into a bit of indigo and phthalo green for some of the darks.

Things I learned from this painting :

  • Design is more important than realism. Think in large shapes, and just enough detail to suggest the subject. 
  • Shadows don't have to always be purple. Here the yellow orange shadow works beautifully.
  • Use the right size brush to cover the area, otherwise you will need to make too many brush strokes to join up an area with color and this can make things look busy and untidy.
  • Practice brush strokes to make the leaves look more lively.

May 2 : Pastel drawing

Yesterday's success encouraged me to try a whole month of pastel drawings. My day job has nothing to do with art but I am trying to make time for some serious art practice everyday. 

Here is today's attempt.  I am not happy with it, but I shouldn't expect this to be so easy. I take comfort in the fact that it looks like something and the important thing is that I put in the time.



We planted some flowering plants in our container garden on our patio, and have been enjoying the smells and sights of the beautiful flowers for the past few days.

The petunias looked especially pretty and were beckoning me to paint them every since I brought them home. I wasn't able to capture their gentle delicate petals very well here, but they are supposed to bloom all the way to fall so I will have plenty of opportunity to practice. 

Petunias in watercolor