Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Art Show!!!

[Click images to enlarge]
My art show was called "Changes" and according to the Library Board it was the best attended ever with 40 people! I was disappointed, because I had sent out 90 invitations. But apparently there was a snafu at the post office and many invitations did not reach their destinations on time or at all. Notably, my mother did not receive hers until one week after the event, even though I sent it two weeks before hand! In any event, it was a local hit, and the show was extended through the New Year!
I handed out minibios that I prepared in advance that described my brain aneurism and how I couldn't do my art for almost 10 years. Then I described how I overcame that and my confidence issues by doing the watercolor "Chinese Wet Market". My thinking was, after doing all of these beautiful works of fish, if I couldn't paint a pile of fish heads, then I just don't know. But it took a lot of support of very good friends to get me through it.
The minibios also described each piece in the show, the media used, the date it was done, and how the piece came about. This way, questions were more interesting and probing.
I also hold the distinction of being censored. The piece below, "Casualty of War", was at the opening, but not allowed to be in the show, because the Board felt it might upset some of the Veterans. [?]

I got enough compliments on my work to last a lifetime, that is for sure. I had a great evening and was very tired.

My thanks to Sean, who framed all of my new works himself.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Miniata Groupers, Chinese Wetmarket, Singapore

This watercolor painting is called Miniata Groupers and is from the Singapore series. Click to enlarge.

It is based on this photograph that I took on my trip to Singapore in 1996 at the Chinese Wet Market. This was a tank of live miniata groupers.

The painting was an exercise in watercolor washes and gradients and was tons of fun. I drew the tank and fish and then painted the water and the painting sat for a long time before I got up the nerve to paint the fish. But once I got started, I was okay and couldn't stop.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Casualty of war, 2009

Please click to enlarge

Here is a new piece of art that I just finished this morning. I had an inspiration a few days ago and have worked on this solidly since then since I feel that stopping our operations in Iraq is way more important than sharing my trip to Singapore. The reason is that we are losing lives of our brave American men and women, plus Iraqis are also being killed. We need to get our asses out of there as soon as possible to end the dying. In the famous words of Edwin Starr "War, What is it good for? Absolutely nothin!"

Cattle statues, Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore, 2009

This is a watercolor painting that I just completed this morning. Chiaroscuro in style, it is of the two cattle statues that detail the cornerstone of the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple at the corner of South Bridge and Pagoda Streets in Singapore. I took a picture of the Temple when I was there in 1997 on business, and decided that the cattle would make for a great watercolor painting. So, I searched the web and found the photo below in a flickr album.

One never sees architectural details like this in the United States! I am blessed that I had the opportunity to travel to Singapore and see this and thus make this painting. I will continue to make paintings from my travel to Singapore.

Chinese wet market, Singapore, 2009

Here is a new work that I just completed yesterday! It is called Chinese Wet Market, Singapore. I used a photo that I took from my visit to Singapore in 1997 as a model for the work (below).

Unfortunately the colors are washed out in the photo of the painting and are brighter in the original work.

This is my first major work since my brain surgery almost 10 years ago and it was really a trial. The medium is both watercolor and India ink and if you click to enlarge, you will see that I give a nod to my past pointillism days. The painting is 16 x 12 inches.

Hooray for me, now I am a painting fool again! I am excited an happy with many works going!

Koi in Holland Market, Singapore, 98/09

Here is yet another work that I completed yesterday. If you click to enlarge it, you will see that it took eleven years to finish this work. Much transpired in those years!!! Below it is the photo that it is based upon. We also use a version of the photo for printing our bank checks.

Unfortunately, the camera was not kind to this watercolor painting. The background is a lovely light blue and the fish a delicate yellow. Perhaps you can see that I finally figured out how to use my new brushes in the fin work on the 3 fish left upper center of the painting and the red and white one towards the bottom.

I feel that this work is graphically strong and very pretty even though there are some mistakes in it.

This painting is now owned by Francesco & Damien who reside in Madrid, Spain. It was gifted to them for their wedding day.

Great blue heron, 1996

Now we skip twelve years ahead to when we moved from upstate New York to Connecticut. I had by that time acquired water colors and a taste for Hiroshige whose wood block prints I had first seen in the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY.

We bought his book Hiroshige Birds and Flowers and I was very inspired by its 91 color plates. I decided to try and copy them into water color paintings which turned out to be much easier to decide than to do.

This first painting is of a Great Blue Heron fishing. Though Hiroshige never did this painting himself, it is in his style. I did three washes, one at the top for the sky, one at the bottom for the mud and one for the water line. Then I painted the bird and the cattails. I added some small fish for interest and because I am a fish fanatic. I was quite tempted to go at this painting with my India ink and draw all over it as I did with the little fish, but I resisted. Do you think I was correct in this decision and the painting is finished? Click to enlarge.

I’m not quite satisfied with it, but you know, the artist never is satisfied with their work. I think the composition is weak, it looks all pushed over to the right and will never frame well because of that. The heron is floating in the air and not grounded to anything. I could have done better painting his feet. I like how I painted the cattail heads and the washes and the bird’s neck. I would love to hear your comments on this painting.

Cock, 1993

Cock as in Hiroshige's Cock, Umbrella, and Morning Glories on plate 20 of the book "Hiroshige Birds and Flowers". I scanned the image, but the picture was too long for my scanner (click to enlarge):

I felt very inspired and wanted to see if I could render this via water colors. I of course simplified it considerably into just a wash and the cock and here is the result:

It is the only Hiroshige bird that I feel I did a good job with at all. It still needs to be framed and matted and would probably benefit from some tight matting at the sides to make it look narrower and taller. I particularly like the black tail feathers and the feet. Your comments are welcome.

This piece is now owned by Cristiano, who was born in the year of the Cock.

Blue Butterfly tail, 1992

Now that my graphic eye was turned on, I scanned the Chinese Goldfish book for another fish to paint. On the very same page I found one:

The book describes this fish as:

Variegated butterfly tail with reversed gills

But for me, the bright orange and white colors distracted from the strong graphic image of the fish. So I went with Payne gray in my water color interpretation of it. I also took another look at the anatomy of fish scales and devised a new method for portraying them. Here is the result (click to enlarge).

Again, I employed the dry brush method and used a wash with paint pooling for the eyes. I thought the paint would never dry and had a fear that I would smudge it, but that didn't happen. I like how the paint in the tail seems to be different colors, but it is not. It is all just Payne gray. I am in love with this color! I am somewhat happier with how the scales turned out, but not yet thrilled.

This is the mate to the Black Butterfly Tail. I wanted to paint a trio, and did attempt it, but it never worked out. As usual, your comments are welcome.

Black butterfly tail with bulging dragon eyes, 1992

Finally frustrated with pointillism, I revisited watercolors. I searched my books for inspiration and came up with this Chinese Goldfish book put out by Tetra. The wonderful thing about this book is that there are photos straight from China of the way goldfish are kept and propagated there and the way they were kept in palaces in ancient times when myriad servants were around to make water changes in the beautiful porcelain, marble, wood, pottery and earthenware containers. Of course all of the variations of goldfish are shown. This book really spurred my imagination.

My eye for graphics was grabbed by this image on page 67:

The book describes this fish as:

Black butterfly tail with bulging dragon eyes

An exceedingly rare variety of goldfish, renowned for its butterfly-like caudal fins. It is as black as traditional Chinese ink and has large protruding eyes. This variety of fish likes shallow water, only 10 cm deep. An adult fish measures between 15 and 20 cm.

I just had to paint this fish. So, armed with my black watercolor paint I had at it. This was the result:

I used the dry brush technique. In general I feel that I captured the spirit of the fish, but I am not happy with the scales, which I rushed because I was impatient to finish the work. I think that graphically the painting is a success. The final work is 13.5" x 10". Click to enlarge.

I would love to hear your comments.


All I can say is man, this one has my blood, sweat and tears in it. You cannot imagine how many studies it took to get this one to work. The central idea was that the magic of seeing a koi break through the water should be captured by the koi actually breaking through the paint. In other words, the body of the koi should be physically bursting through the paint medium, pushing it aside. My thought was to draw or paint the fish and then do a solid wash over them that they would burst through.

To get this to happen, I had to find a waterproof medium to color the fish with. So initially I painted them with water color and then covered them with wax. That looked terrible. Also I had to discover what kind of paper to use. A flat non-textured paper was needed.

Many studies later, I happened on Sean's collection of Berol Prismacolor pencils. They came in all the colors of the rainbow and excitedly, I hurriedly drew the koi. I taped the paper to my desk to prepare it for the watercolor wash and did the black wash. It totally covered the fish. I was disgusted. All my hard work went to waste. I waited until the paint was not runny and ripped it off my desk in anger.

Thank goodness I did not ball it up and toss it out because as it dried, the wax pencil cracked the water color paint on some of the fish. With the help of some gentle scraping with a palette knife, I was able to see the fish I had colored on the hardest and that had the most wax pencil deposits. So, I scraped harder on the other fish and am overjoyed with the final result. Click to enlarge.

Young koi

The date I did this piece is now in dispute. The signature date is 1983, but the copyright on the book I used is 1989 and I distinctly remember buying the book in San Francisco in 1989. So, maybe I did the drawing in 1993 and the signature date is incorrect? I also remember being a new koi owner at that time and that didn't happen until we moved which was in 1986. Okay, I'm glad I cleared that up in my head. The actual date I did this drawing is 1993, not 1983 as indicated on the drawing.

The drawing was inspired by the inside photo from this wonderful Tetra Encyclopedia of Koi which I first spied in San Francisco and bought on the spot. Since then I have used it as a guide to my koi keeping and breeding. Anyhow, as soon as I saw the photo of young koi on the inside of the hard cover, I just had to draw them. So I got out my Pentel color pens and had at it.

This was the result. Unfortunately, I really liked the drawing lots and hung it in my office at work where it got lots of natural light. Thus, the reds and oranges have faded terribly as has the blue that I used as a background.

Click to enlarge

So, everything that looks yellow now was red or orange at one time. The piece is just really less spectacular than it was but you get the idea. As a medium, Pentel color pens and pointillism were not the way to go for drawing koi because of the color fading and the time required. I had to find another medium to capture them.

Jose, 1984

I did this drawing to memorialize my mom's kitten Jose. Sorry about the flash reflection.

Foggy landscape, 1984

I continued to search for photographs that moved me to draw and found this one in a National Geographic Magazine. It looked like it would be lots of fun because of all of the colorful wild flowers and so I had at it with my Pentel color pens. I don't know if I am happy with the result compared to my other works or not. Click to enlarge.

The pinks of the flowers have faded a bit and did not come out quite right in the photograph. I had lots of fun drawing the umbels in the Queen Ann's Lace and trying to put them in three dimensions. I feared hours of work filling in the foreground, but then thought it looked fine without it.

Old woman, 1984

This work has been shown at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY. It was completed in 1984 and was done from a photo that my husband Sean took. He was in a park in Syracuse and came upon this old woman. He asked, as he usually does, if he could take her photograph and this is the gesture she made. He shot the picture immediately. Once I saw this photo I knew I had to draw it. So with his permission, here is my pointillism rendition of Sean's Old Woman. Click to enlarge.

She was really a challenge to photograph too because the drawing is so light (you can see my reflection in the glass). Actually, when I was doing this drawing it was quite difficult to tell when it was done and when to stop making dots. I was so afraid I would ruin the effect I was trying to capture. Do you think I stopped to soon?

Portrait of a young woman

This was the first ever portrait that I did of a person in pointillism. It was from a sepia photograph of Sean's maternal grandmother when she was a young woman. I had some trouble with her hair and so some of it I did as a characterization, like her bangs, and then other parts I feel I got right, like at the nape of her neck. This is when I decided that old people would be easier to draw though I was pleased with this result. Click to enlarge.

Wild flowers, 1984

This piece was shown at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY and at the Everson Museum as part of an "on My Own Time" Show, both in 1984. I also completed it in 1984. It is pen and ink pointillism on paper. Click to enlarge. The actual drawing inside the mat border is 8" by 12".

Verne, my brother, nearly had a heart attack when he saw it because some of the flowers are not in bloom at the same time of year, so this actual bouquet would never be seen. I had a good time drawing it because I love flowers and I chose ones that gave me the best opportunity to use the craft to its best advantage. See how the Jack in the Pulpits have lots of fluted creases to be drawn in as well as twisted petals. Those are divine to do in pointillism. Please let me know your comments.

Perfume bottles, 1984

So, like making all these tiny little dots takes a really long time. You know? It could take hours and hours just to complete one work. I began to wonder how I could make money doing it. Sean said that I could do advertisements in newspapers and magazines. Being the skeptic that I am, I did not believe him. So I decided to draw his collection of perfume bottles to see if I could do an ad for something like that. This drawing is the result.

This is not his entire collection, just some that I selected to draw. I used the pentel color pens for this work. As you can see, the bottles are all made of glass and have glass stoppers. Two have old perfume still in them. I had lots of fun seeing the light’s reflections in the glass and reproducing it on paper, especially in the perfume of the Lalique bottle (with the dove stopper) and the cut glass stopper of the bottle in the left rear. I was very happy with the result. But I decided not to go into illustration for advertising at that time; I kept my day job.

I apologize that the top of this drawing has been cut off by the limits of the scanner. Click to enlarge.

Last night, Sean put my drafting table back in my studio, which was the office we used to share. Sean had moved his office back out to the 5,000 square foot metal building on our property in the fall when he ran for First Selectman (he lost!), so it was only a matter of time. I carried some of my art that was framed, but not hung in our house into the studio from my closet and opened my portfolio and found some unfinished water colors. I am so intimidated by these. I don’t want to ruin them by mucking them up. One of them is of some koi that I started from a photo I took in Singapore. It is a beautiful and delicate work that I have put the first water color wash down on. I just don’t see what the next step is for it. But first I need to photograph some others of my works for the blog. That should keep me busy.

Neral's first mouse, 1984

When I first moved in with Sean, I was so turned on. But not just in the way you might think. You see, as an architect, he had a full home office with a fully supplied drafting area and that was my turn on. The artist in me was turned on by his many different sized rapidograph ink pens and the rainbow of pentel color pens.

I couldn’t wait to have at them. My creativity was boiling and bubbling, just waiting to explode out into the world. Then of course I had a boring job that didn’t require too much brain power either, so that worked in favor of good art too.

I was also very inspired by my first cat, Neral, who was a lynx point Siamese. He caught his first mouse in our late 1800’s house we lived in! He was so proud; he brought it to me in bed. I threw back the covers and there it was. Yeah, that was the last time I let him sleep with us.

I used Sean’s mechanical drafting pencils to draw sketches of Neral, then I filled in the sketch with tiny dots with a small barrel rapidograph pen as you can see. This only half the picture as it was all that would fit on my scanner. This kind of pointillism is very easy to do, but requires infinite patience and a very steady hand. Click to enlarge.

You can see that I was very influenced by Asian art even at this time. It is evident in my graphic sense as well as in the detail of the work. I continued to be stuck in pointillism for years to come. It is a very deliberate and reliable way to produce quality art.

Sean showed me some applications, notably famous artists, such as Seurat, and portraits in the Wall Street Journal. Of course I had to so some portraits immediately, and did portraits of one of Sean’s great aunts when she was a young woman, and old woman, and a self portrait. All but the self portrait are framed. Then, I got a commission to do a portrait of someone’s child and found that I could not do it. To me, a child looks like a featureless ball. There is no character to portray. So, I had to turn down the commission.

Siamese cat with ball, 1983

Right away I began drawing cards for holidays and birthdays. This is the first Christmas card I drew and we had them professionally printed and envelopes made and sent to everybody we knew. The scans came out crappy so I put both of them in.

I have always been enamored of the idea that a kitten or cat is going about its business, but mindful of us. This drawing is an illustration of that in pen and ink. The kitten is looking up at us to wish us a Merry Christmas before he continues to destroy the tree. The tree is a larch, which would have dropped its needles by December, since they are deciduous.

Egyptian Sisters, 1983

From the lowly scarab beetle to the majestic pyramids, I have always been fascinated by ancient Egypt. I have read the stories, been swept away by the culture, art, archeology, architecture, all of it, I have read the histories, mysteries, I may as well by embalmed I am so steeped and imbued with a love for all things Egyptian. I just recently finished reading Colleen McCullough's Anthony and Cleopatra which I loved. Of course it goes without saying that Egyptian art has influenced my art.

I wanted to make a tribute to my twin sister for her birthday, so I drew this pen and ink drawing of Egyptian sisters. Click to enlarge. She did a scan of it, so it is wider than you see here, so you don't see the drawn border goes all the way around the picture and she had it beautifully matted and framed.

Pair of bubble eye goldfish

it is a beautiful work and I would love to know when I did it. Do enlarge it to see the details. The colors are beautiful.

Self portrait, 1984

Here is a self portrait done in India ink. I used a mirror to accomplish this work.

Bubble eye goldfish

Here is a red and white bubble eye stargazing goldfish from the April 1973 issue of National Geographic Magazine that featured an article on goldfish done in Pentel color pens, followed by the cover of the magazine.

Unfortunately, I know from experience that the reddish and orange colors will fade when exposed to sunlight.