Thursday, July 31, 2014

Alla Prima Portrait: College Student Lacey (Oil 21 x 15)

It was Punta Gorda VAC's portrait studio day. Today's model was Lacey, a student from College of Southern Florida, education major. Lacey was a very nice girl. She usually wore glasses. I really didn't mind whether she was with or without glasses. Either way I was going to paint the way she was. However, some artists felt it was better if she didn't wear glasses. I didn't catch what she said but she seemed to physically feel uncomfortable with her eyes if she didn't have glasses on. When some of us asked if it was possible that she didn't have them on at least at the beginning. She was so nice that she decided to simply sit there without glasses for the whole period even though I noticed later they turned kind of watery.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Oil Sketches: Ft Myers Beach Artist Gretchen

I went to Ft. Myers Beach Art Association. There was no more portrait studio. There were about half a dozen artists working on their individual projects. I did a quick oil sketch of Gretchen who was painting at the table.

Ft. Myers Beach Artist Gretchen
Oil 14 x 18

In the afternoon, I walked to the beach. There was a couple from Quabec City, Canada. At first I wanted to paint the guy who lay there under the umbrella alone. When the lady came, he sat up and moved to the other chair and left his chair to her. I planned to paint them both. However, when they noticed I was painting, the lady came over to see me paint.

Empty Chair
9 x 12

Monday, July 28, 2014

Plein Air Oil Sketch: Calm Water (10 x 12)

In the past few days, I've been cleaning the house inside out. While being away from home for two months, I didn't expect strangers in my house. There are frogs living and dead in there. Obviously they sneaked in through the bathroom sink. The toilet has become their swimming pool till the water dried out. I noticed their dirty footprints on the ring. Outside the house bushes needed to be trimmed badly and the shaded side of the house had weeds. I almost worked my butt off. Finally I got ready to go plein air painting. I went to Tuckhoe Road which was not far from my home. Before I wanted to take my kit out of the trunk,  I saw a loose big dog wandering along the road. Remembering I was bitten by a lady's dog in New York over Christmas, I dismissed the idea and continued to drive to my friend Woody's boatyard. I saw a renovated sailing boat docked there with the name of Alva Island. I smiled to myself in appreciation. It is a really appropriate name for the family who live on an island. Two months ago I painted Woody fixing the boat. I believe it is still in my blog's "Painting Gallery".

I did the sketch not even for two hours. I started at 9:40 AM and finished it at 11:30 AM. In spite of the title of Calm Water, the painting process was not calm at all. Twice it showered. Fortunately I had my umbrella over the easel, so I hopped in my car till it cleared up and picked up the painting again. Overall, it went smoothly.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sketches at JFK Airport

Hi, friends and fellow-artists:

I am back in Florida. These two sketches are what I did while waiting for my flight.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Last Drawings

The following are the sketches I did today. I'll be soon leaving for Florida. They are the last drawings I did for this visit. My sketches book was full and drawing pen out of ink. I simply grabbed a writing ballpoint pen and drew in space on the back side of those pages with unfinished drawings either because the subject was gone or because my view was blocked.

I was drawing on subway.

Friday, July 18, 2014

En Plein Air: Lynn's House (Oil, 12 x 9)

This is architect Lynn's beautiful house. This morning I happened to be in that part of Forest Hills Gardens and selected the house to paint which was heavily shaded by the foliage. It turned out to be Lynn's House. I was kindly given a tour of the house. I was deeply impressed by the way the house was designed and built.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

En Plein Air: A Mansion in Forest Hills Gardens (oil, 9 x 12)

It was overcast this morning and was supposed to have rain, so I didn't want to go too far to paint just in case. I wandered around in Forest Hills Gardens for a while and decided to paint this mansion. I had a thing for architectures. In early years, I dreamed of being an architect/artist like Frank Lloyd Wright. Unfortunately, when I took the entrance examination for college, architecture major was not allowed to be mixed with liberal arts in China at that time. Nevertheless, my passion for architecture has always been there. I admire beautiful architectures, no matter whether they are residential homes or magnificent national halls. Forest Hills Gardens is full of beautiful mansions which are around 100 years old.

Monday, July 14, 2014

En Plein Air: A New Day (Oil 12 x 9)

As you may tell, it is the gateway of an old townhouse building, a very stylishly beautiful design. The location is in the Forest Hills Gardens, Queens. When I arrived there, the sun had just shed light on the top part of it. The place was heavily shaded by trees which were more than 200 years old. Shortly after I blocked in blue color of the shaded area, the sun hid behind the clouds. For the rest of the two hours, I was painting out of the effect. I needed will power to remind myself constantly that I shouldn't be misguided by my eyes which had adapted to the overcast weather situation now and the value/color relationships were not what I saw in the first place. I tried hard the recall the relationships when I was outlining. It is a good practice to control my own eyes.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

More Sketches: Putting on Makeup on Subway and Others

Today Queens Library held a concert named "The Sound of Silk and Bamboo", in which a number of Chinese musicians played some traditional songs with Chinese musical instruments such as bamboo flute, Sheng, a kind of wind instrument also made of bamboo, Erhu, a 2-string violin, and Guzheng, a 21-string zither. I made some sketches there. I sat in the back. It was almost too dark to see what I drew. Toward the end, my pen was out of ink.

Friday, July 11, 2014

En Plein Air: Afternoon at Forest Park (Oil, 9 x 12)

My only purpose was to use the canvas paper which I scraped three time because my subject left before I could get it done. I became  something like a layer of green underpainting. That is why I painted the park.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

En Plein Air: Entrance of An Old Church (Oil, 9 x 12)

I went this morning to the street park for the purpose of painting people there. However, I didn't have much luck. I first targeted a man stripped to the waist sitting in the sun. However, right after I set up and before I started, he moved to the opposite bench in the shade. Maybe by then the sun was a little too strong for him. Then I tried to do a figure of an African man stretching out on the bench comfortably, talking on the phone. When I finished blocking in large color chunks, he was done with his phone talk and took off. I scraped the canvas paper and began to paint the Asian old lady playing with her iPad and sitting on the same bench as the Black guy. She didn't stay long enough to even let me get the outline. I scrapped what I did again and planned to paint a young lady sitting straight with legs crossed on the bench. Unfortunately, she soon lied down. I put away everything and went away. Shortly after I hit the road, I saw a homeless man sleeping on his side on the bench with one leg hanging down the side armrest. I asked myself whether I wanted to set up again. I decided not to.

I pulled my kit back through Forest Hills Gardens and passed the old Scientific Christian Church. The entrance was still  in the shade in this morning after. I didn't want to go home empty-handed, so I set up to paint the entrance. It was OK. When I was painting, my old friend Loco suddenly appeared with his large bag. He told me the church was on the market for sale because nobody went to the church. Later some city construction trucks stopped by and workers came to see my painting. One of them said, "Do you want to buy it? It sells for seven million and a half. Now I knew what Loco told me was true.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

En Plein Air: Stone Blocks at Gantry Plaza State Park and St. Mary's Church, Queens

I went this morning to Gantry Plaza State Park which looks over the East River and is across from the United Nations. I went there with those stone blocks in my mind. Over Christmas I painted there and some of you must remember that I ran into a bride and her groom who came with a camera crew to take their wedding pictures. I was very much impressed by the stone blocks which were in different square or rectangular sizes and randomly laid along a winding walk. Flowers and grasses grew around those blocks. The view reminded me of the unearthed historical site of Bombay, Italy. The sight has amazed as well as puzzled me: Why were they laid out like that? It is true the layout was uniquely beautiful. It seemed to me that they were leftovers of the Park construction because part of the river railing is made of the same stone blocks. It is logical that instead of spending money shipping them away, it might be as well to make use of them in the park. If it was the original design instead of an inadvertent outcome, it was even greater. Anyway, they are the purpose that I went to Gantry Plaza. It took me less than two hours to make the picture.

When I was done with the painting, I packed my kit and walked to the intersection of Vernon Blvd. and 50th Ave. and the subway station to take the 7 Train. I was about to get into the subway entrance when I noticed the church. I asked a smoker on the sidewalk about its name. It was St. Mary's. Suddenly, I felt an urge to challenge myself: Can I do an oil sketch of it within an hour? So instead of walking down the staircase of the station, I pulled my kit across the street to an island in the street and made this sketch in less than an hour.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sketches on Subway

My wife and I went to the City Library this morning. I made a few sketches on F train. The following are three of them. We got off the train at Bryant Park. When we were approaching Fifth Ave., a guy on the sidewalk suddenly yelled to me, "Hey, nice pictures!" "Thanks,"I responded, realizing he was the young man who leaned over me on the subway, watching me doing the sketches. My wife said, "He scared me with the yelling." I said he was on the same subway with us and must have got off the subway from the Fifth Ave. Exit. As a matter of fact, I am used to the kind of unexpected friendly compliments.

Whenever I am sketching, I try to do it in private on subway, at least avoid drawing attention to myself. However, it is inevitable that people notice what I am doing. Maybe it piques people's curiosity because they finally find something to break the monotony and tediousness of subway ride if they don't play with their cellphone or have something to read. They like to compliment me or say something they feel related to drawing. often briefly in a few words. Today, an old lady said she believed I should go to the Central Park and make some money on my drawing. I always appreciate people's friendly advice no matter what. And I am learning to enjoy the kind of attention. It could be the most beautiful moment in an old grumpy man's life like mine if people give their attention to me instead of to young beautiful and sexy girls on the subway.