Friday, June 28, 2013

Plein Air in Oil: Old Building on Austin St.

It was a cloudy day today. Occasionally, the sun peeked through the cracks of the clouds and lit everything on the ground, but soon it disappeared again. The building was stylish, especially on the narrow hilly street.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Oil Study: May They Rest in Peace -- Up There

The day before, I went to American Hispanic Society Museum to worship one of my gods Joaquin Sorolla Y Bastida again. Right across from the Museum there is a cemetery. The view was very interesting. All the graves were on a terrace which was much higher that the wall surrounding the cemetery. They looked kind of eerie from the street. So I took a picture and made a painting of it today.
In the Museum, I met an art student who came from Spain to study for a month with the Art Students League of New York. He had been spending five days copying his fellow countryman Joaquin Sorolla's After the Bath, which is also one of my favorites. If you like painting sunshine and water, you shouldn't miss that one. I have included the painting below. If you like to see more of his paintings. Here is a link which includes many of his important works:

After the Bath
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923)
Oil on canvas
176 x 111.5 cm

Painted at a Valencian beach in the summer of 1908, After the Bath is without doubt one of Sorolla's most magnificent and memorable works. Ever since it was first exhibited at the Hispanic Society in 1909, it has elicited admiration. Sorolla again demonstrates his technical mastery in his rendering of the translucent fabric that clings to the young woman's flesh, still wet from her dip in the sea. The brilliant tonalities found within the white backdrop cloth protectively held by the straw-hatted youth—possibly one of those seen in Children on the Beach and Beach of Valencia by Morning Light—are similarly impressive.

Although this female described as "a young Greek goddess emerging from the sea," has evoked thoughts of a Hellenistic sensibility in Sorolla's subconscious, the scene would have been familiar and quite routine at Valencia's Mediterranean shore. Nonetheless, several features evoke memories of classical art: above all the young woman's canonically determined height (seven and a half heads) and the wet folds of the dress she clasps together at her shoulder. Rather than an image of hedonistic eroticism or a pagan Valencia as some have interpreted it, perhaps the canvas should be considered as Sorolla's vision of contemporary reality of health, happiness and strength to he derived from sea and sun.
Text and images © Hispanic Society of America.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Oil Study and Sketch Drawings

Tar Beach
Oil, 8 x 16
I often see old residential buildings crowded together alongside the subway tracks. Some are in fairly good shape; others are eye-sores with graffiti all over the walls and roof. Even though roof tops are usually the place for A/C units and satellite dishes, it was a handy and useful space for families living in crowded New York. Faith Ringgold's picture book Tar Beach vividly describes how local people make use of their roof top space. That's why I used the title for my painting. I am also adding below two sketches I recently did on subway.
 Young Woman
Muslim Passenger

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Plein Air in Oil: Beekman Street near City Hall, Manhattan

Oil 9 x 12
I went to Downtown Manhattan yesterday around noon and set up right outside of the fence of City Park. It is called Station Corner named after two ladies but I forgot their names. It was really a busy corner with alot of tourists passing by. While I was painting there, I also had a sideline volunteer job as information center. Maybe tourists simply thought I was a local artist and happened to be handy to them. So I answered questions from directions to Ground Zero to the nearest Italian restaurant. Fortunately, I think I did a good job.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Drawings: Alhambra Musiacian and Passengers on Subway

This afternoon at 6 PM, a folk music band named Alhambra, mainly Jews, gave a performance at Forest Hills Library. They played songs of various ethnic groups in Middle East. Most of the songs were upbeating happy dance music. I enjoyed myself drawing them while listening to their music. The first I did before they began performing. The last one I did on subway.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Plein Air in Oil: Dunkin' Donuts at Yellowstone Blvd. & Dartmouth St., Queens, NY

Video Clip: Lost Habitat

The following video clip titled Lost Habitat was received from one of my artist-friends as an E-mail attachment. According to my friend, the author of the video is a graduate from Beijing Insititute of Film Making. He sold his car and house, spent about 8,000,000 Chinese yuan and more than 2,000 hours camera shooting in nature to make this film.

It is a very saddening and thought-provoking film. Inevitably, it has revealed a critical issue about the humankind behaviors on this planet and posed a life-and-death question to us all in the global village. It reminds us how fast our environment has been deteriorating. From the video, you can see it is real that something must be done before it is too late. If not, no matter whether you are as wealthy as Bill Gates, there is no way you can protect your children unless you can move them to another planet.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Plein Air in Oil: Our Lady of Mercy R. C. Church, Forest Hills, NY

Oil 12 x 9

What prompted me to paint this church this afternoon was the fact that I received an invitation this morning by French opera singer Alexia Carr for her performance in this church. I Googled the church's images and felt it would look good in a picture. 

If you have followed my blog posts, you should remember that I mentioned last month that when I was painting the arched entrance of Forest Gardens, a French leading opera singer stopped by and asked me for information of art supplies stores. That was Alexia Carr. At that time, she was in this country only for a few days. She happened to be a fine artist, too. If you scrolled down, you will see the church event post with her own painting on it. 

Alexia Carr's Performance in Local Church

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Check her out at

Monday, June 10, 2013

Drawings: Forest Hills Food Festival

Waiting for the Music Performance

Balloon Vendor (His headdress reminds of Spanish conquistadors)

Tourists Stoppng to Watch the Excitement
Yesterday noon when I passed Austin St. on my way back from plein air painting, traffic was blocked and there was the excitement of annual food festival. I took a few pictures and made these drawings in limited time.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Oil Plein Air: Backside of the Church

Remember in 1997 when I was at the Conference in Paris, I took a trip to a small town named Aur sevior, which was about 60 miles from Paris. It was the town in which Van Gogh spent the last two months of his life. He moved there based on his doctor's advice to paint in order to divert his attention from health problems. He painted almost everyday around the town. Now the town lives on the starving artist who ended his own life there. I went to visit the local Catheric church, which Van Gogh painted its backside because he, a protestant, was not accepted by the church. Today I painted the backside of the Schientific Christian Church in Forest Garden because I had painted its front side before.
I made a mistake today by wearing a short-sleeve T-shirt with no bug spray with me. I was attacked by mosquitoes, which forced me to paint really fast and ignore minor details.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Oil Study" Both Leashed

This oil study is made based on a photo I took at Cape Cod. I meant to practice abstraction but obviously it is not easy. I believe abstraction is extremely important in realistic art and it is what fine art is about. It implies the difference between painting and photography. Quang Ho says that in his painting every stroke has its story. I think that is one way to understand abstraction in art.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sketches on my Tour of Cape Cod

I took a three-day trip to Cape Cod. The following are the sketches I made there. Three of them I made on the ferry; one on subway today.

Old Love Birds on Ferry

 Passenger on Ferry
Passenger on Ferry

Two Young Tourists at Cape Cod
(I added the girl later when she happened to cometalk to the boy)

Passenger on NY Subway

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Oil Study: Overshadowed by the Bridge

I wanted to paint this scene quite some time ago. Last time when I was about to set up, two cars pull over and parked there in my line of vision. Fortunately, not this time. The stores were right in the shadow of the Long Island Railroad overhead bridge. The Forest Hills train station was above them, out of the picture. The other side of the bridge was the Station Square which I painted over Christmas. Of course, the artist value range is limited compared with reality, but with a little change about the borders in local area, I could still show the striking contrast.