Friday, June 5, 2009
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!"
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
When I met Sean and moved in with him he had all of these great art supplies because he was an architect. I was over the moon, I was so happy. He told me to help myself and I did. He had two tables in his home office, one for drafting and one for working. I used the drafting table for my artwork. I quickly absconded with his rapidograph pens. He had tons of paper for them, but eventually I used this up and had to buy more.
Then, in a prophetic move, I discovered pointillism. My first efforts were both in color and in black and white. Here is an early color effort of a frog that I gave up on when I became bored.
The next one is "Neral Images" and is a pen and India ink contour drawing of my first Siamese cat, a Lynx point that I named after a fragrant straight chain organic chemical (an aldehyde), Neral, that I did in 1984. (I only knew about Neral, the chemical, because I studied it as component of an alarm pheromone of Achanthomyops claviger in college, an amber ant that my professor and I collected.)
Here is the remainder of my works that I photographed recently with my new camera to record for my original art archives. I thought that I would post them on my blog for you to look at.
The first is called "Lilacs" and I painted this watercolor and India ink in high school (click to enlarge).
I recall not being particularly impressed with it at the time, but looking back I am amazed at the tiny gradients that I accomplished in the vase. It was all done freehand and I know that I could not reproduce this effect right now. I just had that fine analytical touch that later served me very well in the lab.
What this technique is called is dry brush because the colors are applied and then the next is applied after the first dries. I love this technique because it appeals to the obsessive side of me. The wash is nice too, but far more unpredictable.
While others needed a model to go by, this came straight from my head and is titled Fuschia.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
I loved that we had art class in high school and I think that all schools should. We were exposed to many media, like clay that was fired in ovens, crea stone (that was poured into square casts then carved), linoleum cuts, plaster casting from clay, wax statues, water colors, oil paints and more. We were taught to draw from life and ours was a good teacher.
My Mom has two of my sculptures, a clay one of a monk praying and a carved crea stone one of a musk ox. I have a water color too of lilacs. This is one of the few drawings I have from that time, and I will always treasure it.