Saturday, December 28, 2013

The old oak tree

Old gnarled and twisting oak trees are full of character and interesting patterns.  I enjoyed painting this oak tree located in a park near my house.

What is Art?

"Art is natural beauty interpreted through human temperament."  I share this view as quoted by Birge Harrison in one of my favorite books on art, Landscape Painting.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Handheld Mobile Easel

I enjoy drawing and painting outdoors but not the hassle of transporting and setting up an easel and my art supplies.  Inspired by a desire to draw and paint virtually anywhere at a moment’s notice I designed the Handheld Mobile Easel so I can easily hold my easel, palette, water container, and a brush or two all with one hand while standing or sitting.  It’s fairly simple to build with mostly PVC pipe and a few other materials available at many hardware stores.  Once assembled it fits into a backpack for carrying along on hikes.  I've published the instructions to build your own Handheld Mobile Easel on Instructables so you too may enjoy painting outdoors without any delay or hassle.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cool dancer

One of my favorite subjects to draw are dancers.  I enjoy the lines, figurative shapes, and energy they bring to a composition.  Here is a drawing in charcoal based on a cool dancer photo I saw on Pinterest.

Still life floral arrangement

I admire the still life paintings of the Dutch and Flemish masters and have always found it difficult to know where to focus when drawing or painting a floral still life.  Here is a drawing I did a couple of weeks ago based on a painting I liked on the Internet.  I focused my attention on just a few flowers instead of trying to render the entire arrangement.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Capturing the Beauty and Power of Yosemite

Robert Hagan, an Australian artist, nicely demonstrates his thought process (with a little bit of history) to take the overwhelming beauty of Yosemite and communicate the impact of this famous national park in a moving plein air painting.  Check out the video in this episode of Splash of Color.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Coca-Cola Santa in Watercolor

The day after Thanksgiving my job is to hang the Christmas lights but before getting started today I was compelled to do a watercolor version of Coca-Cola Santa.  You can view the original here.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Coca-Cola Santa

In the 1930's Coca-Cola hired Haddon Sunblom to develop advertising images of Santa.  For inspiration he turned to Clement Clark Moore's popular poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" which portrayed Santa as a warm, jolly, and plump Santa.  Between the 1930's and 1960's Sunblom created a series of oil paintings some of which have been exhibited in famous museums such as the Louvre.  Below is a drawing I did of one of these vintage Santa paintings.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Anders Zorn

One of my favorite painters is the Swedish master Anders Zorn.  So I was thrilled to have the chance to see some of his most famous works yesterday at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco yesterday. I loved how his portraiture really seemed to capture the character of his subjects.  Zorn's watercolor composition and technique draw the viewer into the scene and his paintings of Swedish village life are filled with movement and energy.  He also was inspired by Rembrandt to create some beautiful etchings.  I made an attempt to copy his watercolor painting, Reveille, boulevard Clichy in ink.  I struggled to render the form and keep the values balanced.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ribera's Saint Paul

I sketched this copy of a painting of Saint Paul by the master Spanish painter Jusepe de Ribero.  The original painting does an amazing job at capturing the intelligence and wisdom of Saint Paul.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mother and Child In A Boat

I admired this painting by Mary Cassatt titled a Mother and Child In A Boat because it captured the beauty of a sublime and tender moment between a parent and their child.  These are the kinds of moments parents cherish forever but are all too easy to forget.  Below is my attempt at a copy in watercolor.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Just in time for Halloween

About a month ago I was inspired to do a still life with a Fall theme when I was looking through the produce at the grocery store.  So I purchased a pumpkin and a couple of gourds.  That same evening I was flipping through a book of Dutch paintings and found a still life with a skull painted by Peter Claesz in 1630.  As I was arranging my composition for the still life I thought it would be cool to include the skull from the Peter Claesz painting to give it a bit of a Halloween theme.  So I could capture the cast shadows of the skull on the gourds I used a head of lettuce where I was going to add the skull.  Here is a photo of the arrangement, a sketch of the composition, and the final oil painting.

Overlooking the South Bay from Edgewood Park

I was hiking on Saturday at Edgewood Park and decided to sketch some oak trees while taking a break to look out over the Bay.  I also took a picture for reference which I used to do this watercolor painting.  I focused on the oak trees off center and to the right as my subject.

Charcoal portrait sketch

I like working with charcoal because I can easily blend it and correct errors in form and value.  Here is a copy of a portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger of a member of the Wedigh Family.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Emilie Seriziat

Jacques-Louis David painted an exquisite portrait of Emilie Seriziat and her son in 1795.  And here is a copy rendered with charcoal of this masterful painting.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Water Dog Lake

I find landscapes to be the most difficult to compose because it is not always clear where to focus.  There is a small lake in our neighborhood that one day inspired me to sketch the surrounding hillside as the sun rose behind me.  Below is an attempt at rendering this scene in oils.  I struggled a bit with the subject but found it a good exercise to experiment with colors.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Why Beauty Matters

In today's consumer oriented utilitarian society beauty matters more than ever.  What value do you place on beauty?  Philosopher Roger Scruton proclaims that contemplation of beautiful art can deliver us to our spiritual home and redeem us from human suffering and celebrate  our sacred joy.  I thoroughly enjoyed his video Why Beauty Matters

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A pear and a pot

After a fortifying breakfast of Grape Nuts and Cheerios this morning I felt inspired to paint a still life of a pear and a pot using my makeshift shadow box.  I like the balance of warm and cool colors, the connected shapes, and the pot.  I would like to see more form in the pear and the cast shadow of the pear on the pot is too dark.  Perhaps if the shadow was lighter the pear would have more form.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A tea cup

I fashioned a cheap shadow box from a cardboard packing box and flashlight for still life compositions.  Here is a simple drawing with a teacup and saucer.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The School of Athens

Today I practiced my drawing with this value study of a fresco by Raphael called The School of Athens.  I tried focusing on big connected shapes and then adding a few line and midtone details

Friday, August 30, 2013

Figure painting workshop

I just completed an amazing 10 day figure painting workshop at BACAA with master painter Juliette Aristides.  This was a rare opportunity for me to take time off from work to participate in this workshop.  It was so much fun to work side by side with fellow artists and learn from Juliette how to paint the figure as the great masters have for centuries.

We jumped right into things on day 1 starting with value paintings based on copies of famous paintings by masters such as John Singer Sargent.  We focused on big connected shapes with only four values.  The rest of week 1 included value paintings of the model, gesture sketches ranging from 2 to 10 minute poses, measured sketches, and a small value study using a very limited palette.  At the end of week 1 we enjoyed a field trip to the Legion of Honor to practice our drawing of master paintings.  We discussed not only technique but also what makes a good composition and even a bit about the philosophy of art.

Week 2 we launched into a complete study of the figure painting process starting with a drawing and then an underpainting using the “wipe-out” method to render the values.  After the underpainting dried we introduced what I found the most difficult task of rendering the figure in color while observing warm and cool temperatures and values to gradually turn forms into a believable work of art.  A combination of demos and painting for the remaining two days helped us gain a better understanding and appreciation of this complex task.  As time ran out, we all did our best to wrap up our paintings but what was most valuable (and important) was the wealth of knowledge Juliette Aristides imparted on us and simply having a lot of fun with fellow artists.

Below are pictures of different stages of my figure painting including some of the sketches and studies we did along with a certificate as proof I completed the workshop.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lawrence of Arabia

I am currently reading a fascinating book, Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Scott Anderson.  It chronicles the events during World War I centered around the lives of a handful of pivotal characters that shaped the outcome in the "side show of side shows" as T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) once remarked.  Below is a quick sketch I did from a picture I found on the Internet of T.E. Lawrence.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lady in pink

Thomas Benjamin Kennington painted Portrait of a Lady in a Pink Dress in the 19th century. I liked the intelligent, piercing yet soft gaze of this woman.  Below is a copy I did with charcoal on toned paper.

Monday, July 29, 2013

All hands on deck

I found this interesting watercolor on and decided to give it a go myself.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

St. Sebastian

About a year and a half ago i went to the De Young Museum to see paintings by the Venetian masters. There is no substitute for bearing witness to these paintings in person.  My favorite artist was Titian who left me in complete awe of his compositions and technique. Last Thursday evening before dinner I quickly sketched on watercolor paper a copy of Titian's St. Sebastian.  After dinner I completed the watercolor and here is the result.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Yours Truly

When my older daughter recognized that this drawing was a self portrait of yours truly then I knew I had at least captured a believable likeness.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Redon and Rodin

I was at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford and walked into a class that were copying drawings by Odilon Redon inspired by Gustav Flaubert's "The Temptation of St. Anthony".  So I decided to pull up a stool and do a sketch of one of the drawings too.  There were captions associated with each drawing from the book.  This drawing from 1896 had the caption "Death:  It is I who make you serious; let us embrace each other."
Afterwards I went to the Rodin sculpture garden outside and sketched one of the figures in charcoal.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A day at the beach

I loved the light and shadows in a watercolor painting I found on the Internet (I need to start remembering the original artists of these compositions).  Here is my rendition of this scene on hot press watercolor paper.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Meeting in the Woods

I found this painting on the web to practice sketching.  I like the way the artist directs the viewer towards the two soldiers at center through the perspective and values of the individuals and trees in the forest.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Painters Honeymoon

I found this painting by Lord Frederick Leighton called The Painters Honeymoon at the Art Renewal Center museum.  You see their complete bliss together as the painter sketches and his wife casually looks on.  The magnificent light and rendering of her dress illuminates her face and the room.  Just as the fruit in the window has grown to maturity so has their love which also portends to bear fruit.  Below is a quick watercolor rendering of this painting.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Villa Palma

I wanted to do a landscape watercolor painting but was too lazy to go out.  I discovered a site that recommended using Google Street View as a source of subjects for compositions.  So after playing around with GSV I discovered Villa Palma in Italy and decided to do a watercolor sketch on hot press watercolor paper.  I have always used cold press paper and found the switch to hot press a little unsettling at first.  The paint drys fast on hot press making it more difficult to do wet-in-wet.  You have to carefully think through your strokes as you work the composition.  The color does seem a bit more saturated on hot press paper.  Below is the watercolor sketch followed by the reference photo.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lady at the piano

I found this oil painting on the Internet by Theodore Robinson and liked the composition so I decided to give it a go in watercolor.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rinaldo and Armida

One of the best ways to improve your drawing skills is to practice by copying works of great artists.  I've been having fun with my new Lamy fountain pen and decided to sketch this famous painting by Nicolas Poussin.  In this painting, Rinaldo is a soldier during the first crusades who is held as a lovesick prisoner of Armida until his comrades remind him of his mission.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pas de deux

I saw a photo of two San Francisco ballet dancers and tried to capture some of their energy and grace in this sketch

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Still life composition

Last weekend I arranged some fruit and a tea cup on our kitchen counter playing around with different positions.  I had trouble deciding where to focus the composition so I started with a pencil sketch and did some thumbnail drawings.  I wanted the apple and banana to be the main subject.  Today I completed a watercolor painting of this still life composition.  I think the apple should be a warmer red and the teacup a more turquoise color..