Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Obon Choochin," Daily Painting #10

"Obon Choochin," Available (Click Here) 

5" by 7" Oils on Panel


These lanterns hang every year around the outdoor platform that centers this small Obon festival. At the end of the festival day as the sky dims and the second half of dancing concludes these lanterns glow as a warm goodbye. It always makes the end of a very happy day a little less like the end of the celebration. Lanterns are a traditional part of Obon festivals. They are usually lit at the end of the festival and float down a river to send the ancestor spirits away after celebrating and remembering them.


While I love the effect of the lanterns glowing through a tree in the photograph I do find that I missed showing off a full lantern unobstructed, so I may have to do another painting showing off the lanterns more directly. For this painting I enjoyed scumbling in the initial "painted drawing" of the tree's needles and playing with capturing the quality of a bushy needled tree in low light.


More Obon to come!

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Bon Odori no Mae," Daily Painting #9

"Bon Odori no Mae," Available (Click Here) 6" by 6," Oils on Panel




These little girls were a couple of the many children dressed in versions of traditional Japanese clothes at the Obon festival I visited this past weekend. The title of this piece means "before the dance" (according to my aspiring linguist husband :)). These girls participated in the traditional dances just like most of the people from the buddhist temple and many of the visitors (including me!). I was caught by their brightness on the surprisingly cloudy day (they were like little flowers) and how adult they seemed clustered talking privately even as they were so much tinier than those around them.


I started this painting yesterday incredibly tired! I was working so slowly, but I was determined to finish it and I almost did. I went through my normal process and despite temptation to take shortcuts I didn't and I decided to take time to work on a larger plein air painting (I will share it with you all eventually.), so I didn't finish the painting yesterday. It was an interesting challenge to simplify this subject matter into such a small panel. I played with simplifying values and shapes, muting the background colors, limiting their contrast, making shapes simple, mostly to force our attention on the little girls.


There was so much color an interest at the Obon festival that I can't stop with just this painting. I know at least tomorrow will be another Obon painting! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Daily Painting Break (Just Today!)

So, we are making a day of the Obon Festival. Sadly that means no time for painting! :P Or at least no time to finish a daily painting. Happily it means I should have culturally interesting photo reference for at least one daily painting if not more! I'm excited to find new things to paint. See you tomorrow!

Friday, July 26, 2013

"All Light and Exuberance," Daily Painting #8

 6" by 6" Oils on Panel

I had a great desire to paint color. Glorious color! It is another gray day in the summer which is quite odd in my experience so the outdoors was not going to provide that for me. Off the trellis these came happily up to sit in the bright diffused light from my large window and many studio lights.


I was so happy about the color I spent some time
prepping my palette, so that only pure fresh pigment would be mixed for the most vibrancy. I mixed a good amount of color ahead of time just for the joy of it.  I enjoyed playing with the patterning in the small thick glass container that I rested the roses in and set them atop an art book to broaden the color palette.

I am happier for painting this today.

An Outing and Painting Prep

Tomorrow I go to a local Obon Festival. There will be taiko drumming (Taiko drums are large drums arranged theatrically so that those beating them can perform a sort of dance as they create music. The drums are large and their sound pleasantly reverberates in the listeners ribcage.) There will be traditional Japanese folk dancing, which anyone can participate in, and every year I dance, so I look like less of a fool every year as pick up bits of the movements. Oh and the food is scrummy! I recommend the pancakes filled with sweet beans. Hopefully I can get some reference photos to use for my next couple of paintings!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Self-Possessed," Daily Painting #7

"Self-Possessed," Available (Click Here), 6" by 6" oil on panel

A Self-Possessed Camel

I don't remember ever going to the San Diego Zoo and this camel not being there. He is rather haggard at this point, one hump slumps, and he often drools. Though his age has affected him he always seems self-aware and holds his own at the top of the mesa with the younger bactrian camels around him. I often visit that part of the zoo at sunset when the sun is low, directly behind his enclosure and I would greatly miss him if I came upon that spot and our eyes didn't meet.


For this piece I played with pushing the colors to portray the mood. I wanted to keep the brushwork noticeable and expressive. Both these techniques I hope show the impact his personality has on me. The process for this piece was both challenging because I was pushing technique and fun because of that pushing.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Adventuring," Daily Painting #6

"Adventuring," Available (Click Here), 5" by 7," oils on panel

Adventuring Elephant Calf

I was sifting through animal photos when I came upon this exclamation of verve waiting to be painted. This elephant calf was photographed at the Wild Animal Park (Now called the San Diego Safari Park, though I refuse to call it by its new name– it was called the Wild Animal Park when I was a child and since it evokes a connection with animal crackers that I used to call wild animal crackers I will not give it up.).

There have been a lot of baby elephants at the park of late and I have never seen so many antics. This little one was trumpeting as he ran from one group of elephants to another. Most of our visit he hung out with with two "teenage" elephants prodding them playfully.

Fluid Form

I was pleased to practice portraying fluid natural movement in this little painting. I think I captured the feel well, though in the past I know I would have struggled with it. Doing this well quickly is a moment that lets me know that all the time I have put into my art has made a difference.

What a different sort of anatomy an elephant has, I have only ever sketched them before from life at the Wild Animal Park so getting into more of the nuances of their form was intriguing. The one bit of anatomy that I found most unusual is the way extra flesh sits around their legs as they move.


I'm seeing these daily paintings as a good place to often break out the hundreds if not thousands of reference photos I've collected from my ventures to the Wild Animal Park and Zoo. 'Tis one of my favorite places in the world.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"The Field's Golden Exhale," Daily Painting #5

"The Field's Golden Exhale," SOLD

 5" by 7," oils on panel

The Field Out My Window

Every time I think this field has finished showing me new colors and new plants it shares something new. I think this may be the last bloom of the year. These beautiful yellow flowers I believe are native to Southern, CA (not the ubiquitous wild mustard plants that actually came over from Spain in the 1600's) and I had never seen so many of them in a field. I feel like after watching this field for a year I better understand nature in the larger area of have lived almost my whole life. I'm hoping the blooms will last a bit longer since we just had a summer rain the last couple of days. Perhaps I can get another painting of them in.


I have never painted a landscape on such a small surface. It was a challenge. I had to make it even trickier by portraying the edge of a tree in the extreme foreground. I'm pretty happy with the results. It isn't all that I hoped it might be, but what painting ever achieves all of my hopes. It was good experience in simplifying shapes and patterns of light and effects of the atmosphere. I still prefer to paint my landscapes bigger, but I think there will be more landscapes in one my one-a-day series. (BTW, don't try to paint out a small paned window, it may drive you to distraction.)


I think I deserve the treat of painting a creature again. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

"Weary of Wariness," Daily Painting #4

"Weary of Wariness," SOLD 

5" by 7" Oils on Panel

This Rabbit

I  came across this rabbit in a small orchard of apple trees where the wild oats golden in the summer dryness are short from extensive nibbling. It was a good place for a rabbit to be and I think this rabbit was awaiting me leaving it to peace.


I'm happy with the brushwork on this piece. I have been looking at several art books that I had neglected for awhile. One of my favorite painters is John Singer Sargent. His brushwork is glorious. I think just looking at a book on his plein air works has helped remind me to approach painting thinking about the brushstrokes I make throughout a painting's creation. Soon I'll do an inspiration post and share some of the images from the Sargent book I own, everyone should see their liveliness.


I'm thinking of doing something big on my next small panel. A whole landscape? You shall see. ;)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Spotted," Daily Painting #3

"Spotted," SOLD6" by 6," Oil on Panel

Bunny Haven

I see a lot of rabbits in my life. On late afternoon walks they freeze or dart away as I walk by them. But my parent's house is referred to as "bunny haven." (Their house is also a squirrel and gopher haven. I'll explore that later.) Rabbit's in my parent's yard hop away slowly waiting until you are just a couple of feet away. They only scatter when the poodle rushes up to them barking. These bunnies lounge, legs back, belly flat against the ground, ears relaxed, at midday in the middle of the meadow like backyard with no cover. They know they've got it made.


This young bunny was spotted calmly looking back at me in the front yard. It isn't quite grown up yet and its gaze is calm but aware of my presence. It was a bit tricky to portray the proportions of a not quite grown up rabbit. The body is in the slender adolescent phase and the head softer edged but still a bit bigger in comparison to the rest of it's body like the proportions of a baby kit.

I'm thinking on it...

What is percolating for tomorrow's painting? I'm entirely undecided! Though I did get some more nice rabbit photos and I found a couple of colorful leaves, or something entirely new, hmmm... 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"A Speckled Pair," Daily Painting # 2

"A Speckled Pair," Available (Click Here)  5" by 7" Oil on Panel

Two Moldy Leaves

     I love the way leaf mold started to grow on these sturdy leaves but had yet to make much of an impact before the leaves dried out leaving only a variety of speckles. They were most similarly speckled of all the leaves I collected. They nudged me asking to be shown off together.

Andy Goldsworthy
Leaf Horn by Andy Goldsworthy
This image is from a well thought out
blogpost exploring Andy Goldsworthy's
work and process.

    All this painting of leaves and thinking on leaves is connected to a recent pleasing intrusion of my interest in Andy Goldsworthy's nature art. I was wondering what he might do with leaves that hold a three dimensional shape. Usually he plays off the color of leaves, their flatness, and their transparency. I've seen him work with leathery thick flexible leaves to create horns, but none of these leaves are truly three dimensional.
Andy Goldsworthy 
      These leathery oak leaves I've been painting hold a distinctive three dimensional shape. I imagined he would carefully stack them on a still day, controlling his breath to prevent disturbing their balanced layers.
Green to Yellow Leaves
by Andy Goldsworthy
      I was not ambitious in my stacking for this painting,  I balanced one leaf carefully atop the other. (A whisper of a breeze came though my window halfway  through the painting. Even as unambitiously cautious as I had been the upper leaf toppled!)
     I imagine spending whole days outside contemplating form and my understanding of natural objects to then thoughtfully create my own impermanent sculptures. (I'm not romanticizing this at all, am I?) With quick paintings and some sketchbook brainstorming I'll dream further. But my mind drifts on to buoyant playful painterly thoughts too.

I'm thinking about bunnies...

     I've decided to not limit my subject matter on these daily paintings, at least for now.  So for a big shift in subject matter, my next daily painting will be of a wild rabbit with afternoon light glowing through the pink of its ears.  I'm itching to capture an animal facial expression.

     Too much yacking, not enough painting. Ta-ta 'til tomorrow.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Beautiful Decay, Daily Painting #1

"Beautiful Decay," Available, 6" by 6" – Oil on Panel

The Subject

I'm fascinated with the leather like thickness of the leaves on our local live oaks in California, it gives the impression of obstinate sturdiness. For months after a leaf has fallen it can remain intact.  (The leaves featured in the painting come from two massive scrub oaks,  Quercus wislizeni.)

Small Opportunity

I usually find myself admiring the individual leaves, but painting the whole of the craggily trees, often dead and completely without leaves. In this small quicker painting I allowed myself to explore the individual leaves I'm drawn to.

Most Intrigued

I started intending to gather one or two leaves and I was so intrigued I ended with a whole pile of them in my hands. A subtle sort of persistent autumn can be found under a live oak. Some leaves simply bleach to a perfect cream, others deteriorating reveal the red and yellow that is normally overpowered by green as bits of blue and black mold speckle them and eventually they become a light brown. I painted more leaves than I should have since I'm still figuring out how to fit this in to my day and more complexity equals more time, but sinking myself into thoughts of painting and these leaves was worth it.


All the panels I bought for daily painting are preprimed with a smooth finish. I don't recommend them. It is like painting on slick linoleum, the paint wants to smoosh away from me and carry the layers below it away too. As soon as I can I'm going to break out the gesso and give those panels surface texture.

On to More

The more I look at the leaves the more there is to see and to interpret in paint. My next daily painting's subject matter is planned!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sharpie (A Loved Dog on Velvet)

"Sharpie" Acrylics on Velvet 9" by 12"
Sharing Sharpie

Just yesterday this portrait found it's home. I think I could become a full time pet portrait artist if every reaction I got to a painting was as beautifully emotional as the moment Sharpie's friend and owner had to first seeing this painting. It was one of the happiest experiences I have ever had.

Painting on Velvet?

I swore I never would paint on velvet to the very person I painted this portrait for and several other people in the room at the time. (I'm talking this sort of painting on velvet.) I can be a fuddy duddy in that way. Kitschy items and campy movies usually provoke a quick revulsion in me. It is that instant response that is so sharply opinionated that I don't trust in myself or anyone. So, of course, the moment I said I never would paint on velvet the idea to paint this painting popped into my head. I was sure the result would be cheesy, but now the challenges of a new medium were tickling me.

The Technique

I did one small practice painting on velvet to get the feel for how paint would glide over this surface. I must say that is a slower technique. I have new respect for those kitschy paintings, they may be painful to look att in a sort of friendly amusing way, but they most likely took some patience to paint. For me though I'd much prefer to goosh on a pile of squishy oil paint than to slowly build up thinned paint on velvet. 

"And that's all folks... "

Painting Sharpie on velvet was an experience well worth having. So there.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sky Transforming

"Sky Transforming," 6" by 12", Oil on Canvas

The Painting

"Sky Transforming"  (for sale on Ebay now) is a painting I did a couple of days ago as I watched clouds forming and disintegrating at colossal rates because of a forest fire some miles away. The clouds directly over the fire look just like thunder storm clouds (and are in fact formed because of heat rising off the fire, pyrocumulus clouds) but further out puffy white clouds of a friendly size were also transforming rapidly and it was those clouds that I focused on to capture this painting.

Despite the clouds indicating a fire was persisting, they have a comforting coolness to their appearance in the mostly arid pale clear blue skys of a Southern California summer.

Plans for More

This quick painting is a preview of what is soon to come. I plan to begin doing one painting daily.  Well, almost everyday. I will take days off. You know, the usual: Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, whim days of exuberant hooky, maybe even days for ordinary stuff like errand marathons. Each painting will be offered for sale on Ebay. I've ordered enough panels to last me just over a month, but I hope to continue to paint everyday for many months to come (maybe years *crossing fingers*). Wish me luck!