November 22, 2014

Unlikely inspiration

Sometimes inspiration for a painting comes from unlikely places, such as this farm in Xinjiang, China which was used as a barbecue and party area. The bright red boxes of what is called 'white wine' in China (actually a strong spirit that is used on social occasions) are a nice contrast against the soft muted greens of the woodland. The interesting thing is that if you look at the photo below, you cannot really see the color harmonies and beauty that is in the painting. I could not have painted this from a photograph and got the same result. Yet when I was actually at the scene, you could see the color harmony and abstract possibilities quite clearly. Maybe it was because the light had changed by the time I took the photograph, or maybe it was because the camera did not capture accurately the colors I was actually seeing? I'm not sure. Anyway I was quite happy with the result. I had great fun too with the brushwork. I included a couple of closeups so you can see the brushwork more clearly.

For those of your interested in painting composition, the painting uses a double split complementary color harmony, with a dominant gray notan structure, a contrast of temperature where the cool colors are dominant, contrast of saturation, an abstract design based on point, line, mass and an organizational structure based on radiant lines.

Not that I had time to think about those things while I was actually doing the painting, because I was too preoccupied with swatting the mosquitoes that were starting to bite me. One day in that painting location was enough! The next day I headed higher into the mountains and painted studies for the three friends.





April 18, 2014

Painting in Hunan

My painting trip to China has just come to an end. I ended up getting invited to paint in a small village in Hunan where the red army hid out fifty years ago! The area has very characteristic mountain shapes and has been turned into some kind of plein air painters retreat.
I found myself part of a group with 30 university instructors, their students, and several well known painters from Beijing. The group included two of China's most famous contemporary landscape painters Wang KeJu, and Chen HeXi.
One of the nice things about the place was that all the nice painting spots had special shelters built so the painters can shelter from the sun and rain! Now that's what I call an "artist friendly" place!

January 24, 2014

Beijing Street Vendor

I went out painting one night to do a nocturne and forgot my brushes, and so I had some fun with a knife and my fingers doing this abstract painting. It was actually based on the real scene: a street vendor selling some food on a Beijing street at night. Although abstract I followed all the general principles of design: contrast of texture, contrast of thick and thin paint, dark/light/gray, contrast of saturation, notan structure with dominant value, point/line/mass, shape distinction, amongst others. The values of the shapes were also accurate in comparison with the actual scene, even though the shapes were highly abstracted.
Beijing Street Vendor 6" x 8", oil on linen

This is the actual scene that inspired the above painting.

December 19, 2013

Golden light


I just love these autumn colors. The light is so low that the colors in the landscape are very rich during the two hours before sunset. It's great to get out painting again. 

The 2014 dates for my next workshop in Tuscany are now set. See: my Tuscany Workshop blog.



closeup detail showing brushwork





Olive groves



Olive groves above Tellaro. Tellaro is a beautiful little village aouth of the Cinque Terre region in Liguria, Italy.

 

View of Alpi Apuani mountains

This is view of Alpi Apuani mountains behind Carrara in northern Tuscany. Carrara is where Michaelangelo got his marble from for his sculptures. The painting was done about 2 hours before sunset. The town of Carrara is nestling in the valley below the mountains.

10" x 12" painting, oil on linen, mounted on gatoboard

This is my notan study for the painting.





Here is the photo of the original scene


December 13, 2013

Painting video

Here's a presentation video of some of my paintings I put together for the new Virtual Art Academy 2 website.