Friday, May 31, 2013

Sketches" Passengers of New York Subway

Oil Study: Morning in Downtown Manhattan

Early yesterday morning, I went to Downtown Manhattan. It was an intersection on Fulton St. near South Street Seaport. It was before the rush hours and comparatively quiet. By the time tourists came to make noise in the street, I was done wth my painting. It was 89 degrees in temperature. New Yorkers began to complain about the heat. It wasn't that bad to me. Well, maybe because I came from Florida.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Plein Air Oil Sketch: The Arch Entrance of Forest Garden, Queens, NY

Oil on panel, 9 x 12


Again in this sketch I tried to study lighting and express the contrast between the part of the street in the sun and the shaded part. Honestly I don't think I achieved as much as I had wanted to. Anyway, I don't feel the contrast is as strong as I felt there in reality. When you try to pursue a goal like this, you have to be consciously assertive in the tug of war with your own eyes all the time. I long for creating my own artwork in a professional sense, but I know before i can do that confidently, I must do alot of study. I criticize my own artworks seriously and, at the same time, study masters' works to compare what it was wrong with my work
Doing plein air painting in the street is an interesting experience. I mean you may meet all kinds of people whose questions or conversations, no matter whether they are silly or knowledgable, amuse you. Some are simply curious; others may want me to know they had studied art in the past. There are also people who would actually take the street encounter as a free art workshop Q & A session.
Yesterday, two residents of an apartment building in the street told me respectively that if their cars had happened to be in my picture, they would have wanted to buy my painting. Of course, I  expressed my appreciation and took their words at the face value. Then a French artist named Alexia Carr, who was commisioned by someone and arrived in this country 10 days ago, asked me where she could get art supplies. When I came home and checked her website (, to my surprise, she is a leading professional opera singer. Maybe she also loves to paint. Her card has paintings on both sides.

Very often, people stopped by to show off their knowledge in fine arts. Or seeing my painting outside stirred up their memories of learning art. They wanted to tell me they regretted that they didn't keep doing it. Last week when I was painting in Austin St., one lady stopped to watch me paint for about an hour, asking me if I minded taking pictures. I told her I didn't mind and she used her phone to take pictures of every step of my painting. She asked me alot of questions about painting. When I asked if she was an artist, too, she said no and told me she did that for someone else. Yesterday, for the first time, I was annoyed instead of amused by a guy who bombarded me with silly questions like why I didn't paint individual leaves, why I didn't paint something which existed in reality and insisted that I should paint the utility post. He even told me to wait for him to paint it when he was back from an errand. When he was back he asked me what I was going to do with the leftover paint on the palette. I really wanted to scream and tell him that I would make dumping filling of the leftover paint for my supper. That was a rare extreme example. Most of the times I enjoyed the casual conversation with by-passers, especially children.
I always answer children's naive questions and like to carry a conversation with them. Three days ago when I was painting inside the Yellowstone Municipal Park, a little girl came and told me that she wanted to be an artist, too, when she grew up. I smiled and responded, "That's great! It is always fun to make art, but you'd better ask your parents if they have heard of the term 'starving artist'.?" Her parents who stood by her side burst into a hearty laughter.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Plein air Painting and Drawings

Yellowstone Municipal Park
Oil on panel, 9 x 12
Spanish Dancer

Passenger on the Subway

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Studies in Oil and Drawing

New York Dance Parade on 5/18/2013
Oil , 12 x 9
Music Lover
Yesterday, New York City organized a Dance Parade on Broadway, from University Place to Tompkins Park. Altogether there were around 200 dance groups that participated in the parade representing more than 75 ethnic groups' dances in a broad spectrum from traditional folk dances to all kinds of modern dances. Unfortunately, it was raining. In spite of the bad weather, the dancers were  passionate in their performance. I took quite a few pictures for my morgue. On subway, I also grabbed a sketch of a music lover. This morning, it was still raining, so I simply stayed home and experimented with colors based on one of the pictures I took yesterday.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Plein Air Sketch: Urban View (Austin St. & 73 Rd., Queens, NY)

Oil on panel, 12 x 9
This afternoon, with the purpose of studying lighting, I went to Austin St., remembering the contrast in the view around noon, with tall apartment buildings and shady trees on both sides of the street.  The process went smoothly. Hope you like it.

Sketches at the Senior Center

This morning we went to the senior center and I made these sketches till my pen was out of ink. I am going to paint this afternoon a local scene. Got to go.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sketch Drawings: Passengers on 7 Train, New York City


We had to do some shopping at Flushing today, so, like usual, we took 7 Train. The two sketches are what I did on our way to and from Flushing. In the first one, the guy was dozing off or thinking of something which had caused hime headache. His partner seemed to be very much concentrated on her smartphone. The second one is a passenger. He obviously belonged to the young people who fashionably belted their pants ten inches below their waist to show their beautiful underwears. If there is such a fashionable young man who is nearby, I often compliment him on his classy taste by saying, "Nice underwear!" This time I didn't have the chance because he was too far for me to express my appreciation. Sometimes, I think fashion is a strange thing. It is something like an epidemic or a spell. Once it is over you, you don't mind hurting yourself, going broke, or even killing like some New York school kids did several years ago. I don't want to be aesthetically judgmental, but whenever I see today's high-heel platform shoes, I can't help but think of the shoes one of my relatives wore many years ago. He was a polio patient with legs not of the same length.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Plein Air Oil Painting and Drawing Sketches

Reconstruction in Midtown Manhattan (Madison Ave. & E. 53 St.)
Oil on panel, 12 x 9
I tried to paint the contrast in lighting in the City, but the painting is not totally to my satisfaction. Maybe next time I should wear sunglasses and don't take them off till I am going to paint the scene, like the Impressionists did. That may help give me a more accurate feeling of the contrast in lighting. Last time when I saw the crane in the sun, it was very bright, but I don't think it is light enough in my painting.
I am also including the three drawng sketches below. I did them last week. One is a passenger on subway. The other two were done at the Senior Center. I did quite a few sketches of different people there while waiting for my wife. Unfortunately, the subjects got all the best I did there before I could have a picture taken to keep in my record. The two I post here are simply leftovers.

A Subway Passenger

Feeling Ear lobes (Aerobic Exercise Couch)

Pushing Hands (Tai Che Move)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Plein Air Oil Sketch: Queens Blvd. by 71 Ave.

It was a nice morning with temperature between 65 and 70 degrees. I set up right behind the bus stop. It was busy corner. There were too many things to take care of in the painting. A good experience, though.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Plein Air Sketch: Forest Park, Queens (The Place Where the Bridle Path and Human Path Meet)

I knew it was going to rain this morning before I left home. I simply wanted to take the chance. So I headed for Forest Park anyway, pulling the painting kit with me. In fact, it was raining all the way to the park, but I hoped it would stop. The overhead pass in the middle ground was Union Turnpike. I saw horseback riders come into the park by 71st Rd. Entrance. Under the Turnpike overhead, the bridle path and human trail ran side by side, but not at the same height. The human trail was higher than the bridle path, for the sake of safety, I guess. I had good luck till about 20 minutes before I finished painting. It started to rain heavily. I had to hold the umbrella with one hand while painting with the other one. Of course, the palette, the two paint boxes, and the painting itself were all covered with water droplets. The tough part was the closing. It was difficult to put everything back using only one hand, especially with the Julian easel's legs. Therefore, I had to leave the umbrella on the ground and did things in the rain no matter how heavy it was. Overall, the process went smoothly. It's worth soaking.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sketch: A Young Passenger on M Train, Queens, NY

It was raining this morning. I didn't plan to paint rainy scenes so I did chores at home. I had to make a short trip to Elmhurst to do some quick shopping. This sketch was what I did within the five stops on M Train. A girl sitting diagonally from me playing with her smartphone. On my way back home I thought I could do another one. Unfortunately, after I got on the train, I searched all my pockets but couldn't find my pen. Later, when I got up from the seat to get ready for the stop, an Asian Indian came over from the other side of the train to pick up the pen from where I sat and gave it back to me, saying, "I was sitting there and saw it slip out to the seat. I tried to gesture and call your attention, but you didn't see me." I thanked him for helping me find the pen but by then, I had arrived at my destination. It turned out there was a hole in my jacket pocket.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Plein Air Oil Sketch: Downtown Manhattan

This sketch was made at the intersection of Centre St. and Chambers St. I set up in front of the municipal building around 2 PM. Just a study.

Friday, May 3, 2013


We went to MoMA this afternoon. I didn't have great luck. I tried quite a few sketches at MoMA and on our way there, but, unfortunately, many of them I was unable to complete. People were very mobile and they left before I could finish their sketches. Here is one which I got only the outline. A couple sat in the outdoor space of the MoMA to take a rest.
On our way to MoMA, I grabbed the following sketch on the subway. Toward the end of the drawing, the subject realized what I was doing and wanted to see it. And I also took a picture of him.


Plein Air Sketch: A Spring Morning in New York

By the time I set up to paint, it was nearly 10 AM in Forest Hills, Queens. Unlike in Florida, it was still considered to be a fresh morning time in New York. The hustle and bustle of the city had just begun. The location was the street corner of Queens Blvd. and Ascan Ave., in front of an Italian restaurant named Portofino. Across from the street on Ascan was a Roman Catheric Church named Our Lady Queen of the Martyres. Since I came to New York, I was impressed by the striking contrast between the dark shaded side and the part shined by the sun. I tried to learn to paint the nuances of lighting in the situation. In the background there was the Long Island Railroad overhead pass with the Forst Hills Garden subdevision behind the trees.

When I was setting up my easel, there was a whole bunch of people, mostly dressed in black, on the sidewalk by the church's side door. Then I noticed a convoy of all-black cars parked on the roadside. "Is there a funeral inside?" I asked myself. Suddenly I thought of the movie Godfather and wondered whether all the black cars had anythng to do with Mafia. I cautioned myself that I'd better shut up. Then I laughed at my own paranoia. I am sure you are laughing at my ignorance, too. Honestly, all my knowledge about Italian Mafia came from movies and novels. Hope you like my painting, though.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Plein Air: May Day in New York

This is my first painting in New York in summer 2013.

When I was in Florida three days ago, it seemed that no one paid attention to the change of seasons. We were only sensitive to changes in temperature. However, in New York you feel the impact of the change on human beings. Nature reminds you of its changes so powerfully through all your senses that there is no way you can't see it, smell it, or touch it.

The location of the sketch is at the intersection of Austin St. and 82 Rd, Kew Garden, Queens. Yesterday, my wife and I went to Kew Garden Cinema to see the French movie Renoir. On our way back home, I was impressed by the contrast between the budding leaves in the sun and the dark value of the shaded side of the houses. So this afternoon I decided to come to do the painting. Hope you like it.