Sunday, August 31, 2014

Oil Sketch: The Reef Monkey (9 x 12)

I went to my friend Woody's boatyard docks to fish this morning. However, by 10 AM there had been no biting at all. I knew I didn't have luck today. So I simply quit fishing. Taking the painting kit from the trunk I decided to paint. There was a boat named Reef Monkey docked there. I did a quick oil sketch so that I would not go back home empty-handed.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

En Plein Air: Trailhead Park (Oil, 12 x 19)

Our local artists agreed to paint this morning at Trailhead Park, which used to be part of the golf course of Lehigh Resort, not far from my home. Terry was unable to come, so just Penny and I were there. Jon joined us, too. As soon as he arrived, Jon began to jog energetically around the small park. I like the large canal by the park. It was quiet and there were not many visitors on this Labor Day weekend.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Plein Air Oil Sketch: Breakfast (Oil, 10 x 16)

This morning I went to Beatrice and Alison's home on Tuckhoe Road. Beatrice was not home. Only her son and Alison were there. As usual, they were very nice and let me paint on their farm. I made quite a few paintings on their farm before, including the Haystacks and their old farm house. Over the past few months, their cattle population had expanded. Beatrice's pet horse Lily had two babies.

At first, I tried to paint them in the shade of an old oak, but suddenly they all moved to the stack eating their breakfast. I had to use a rag to erase my draft with a light brown color and move my easel to start all over again. The animals' oily skin and the golden haystacks glowed in the morning sun. The view was really gorgeous. I tried to paint them together. Of course, I knew these models were totally free-will and they would move anytime they wanted, so when I decided their postures in the picture, I chose a medium-value color and quickly blocked in, making their images as accurate as possible. At the same time, I "burned" into my memory the important details of their poses. When they suddenly moved, I switched to paint the haystacks or background till they came back. They would never go back to the same pose again, but I had to make modification in my 3-D thinking and add more details to their images. Sometimes, they happened to be in a position which was close to the opposite flip-over position. Therefore, I had to reverse the sides which facing or back to the light source. It was tough to paint animals. You have to step out of your comfort zone. If you want to improve your sketching skills, that is a good approach to take because you will always  pick the most critical part to paint. No matter what, your art work will always be an honest, authentic and natural expression of your emotions.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Alla Prima Portrait: Doris (Oil 20 x 16)

I did a portrait today. It was Penny's mother Doris, who was a nice and hospitable lady. She was also a very patient model, seldom asking for breaks. It is nice to have somebody who is willing to sit for us while Punta Gorda VAC is closed for two weeks doing cleaning and renovation. We used soft warm lamp light by the couch. On the cool side  light came from a window and TV.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Oil Sketches: Tom and Birds

Early this morning I drove to a small park on Joel Blvd. named Charlie. R. Matheny Park, which is only two miles from my home with a small pond. Local people often go there to fish or feed birds. It was a beautiful morning. Almost at the same time as I arrived in the park, another car pulled in. A guy took folders, drinking bottle, etc. from his car and walked straight to one of the pavilions by the pond. He laid his stuff on the picnic table and made another trip back to his car and fetch something else. Then he sat down at the picnic table and began to do his paper work. He did all those things with a kind of sureness which gave me the impression that they were part of his daily routines. I simply couldn't help myself but think of painting him. However, with my terrible experience with Lawrence last Friday, I first had a conversation with him. The gentleman's name was Tom, who owned some condominium buildings nearby. After that I asked him if I could paint him. Tom graciously allowed me to paint him while working there. I immediately rushed into my business. I painted him reading at the picnic table in the shade from the pavilion roof. The sketch took only an hour.

When I finished painting Tom and turned around, interestingly, I saw two kinds of birds sitting together in the shade from a tree trunk by the pond. They formed such a beautiful picture that I turned my easel at a 180 degrees right away and painted that scene. It took not even an hour. By 11 AM I was already home.

 Tom (Oil 11 x 11)

Sharing the Cool Spot (Oil, 11 x 11)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Oil Sketch: Dr. Pepper (12 x 16)

Early this morning, as scheduled, I went to Lehigh Acres' Veteran Park with Penny and Terry. I was the first one who got to the park. I was pulling my kit along a shaded path deciding what I was going to paint when I saw a guy leaning on a picnic table in the shade. He opened a Dr. Pepper can and emptied it into his own water bottle and then tossed the can to the ground. "Oh littering! Why are you doing that?" I thought to myself. As I was drawing near, I noticed that he seemed to be pretty bored. So tentatively I asked, "How long are you going to sit here, sir?" He said, "Why?" I told him that if he stayed for an hour, I was going to paint him instead of landscape. He asked, "Are you going to pay me?" I said, "No, but I would give you a nice copy of your portrait." It is my principle that I don't pay casual models en plein air. So I did in New York. Most of the time I didn't even tell them. Then he said I could paint him. He would not go anywhere anyway. Soon Penny and Terry joined me there.

As I was painting, I knew his name was Lawrence. he came from Jamaica, almost 60 years old. Lawrence was not working now. He came to the park everyday, sitting either at the picnic table or on the bench by the tennis course. I had no idea whether he was retired or simply quit working. I remember he mentioned disability or something like that. The whole sketch took not quite an hour and a half. I told Lawrence that if he gave me his phone number, I can bring him an Office Depot copy of the painting next time. However, he said he had just moved to a new place and could not remember his new phone number but he would appreciate it if I could give him a dollar. I did. After Lawrence hit the road, I picked up from the ground the two Dr. Pepper cans he tossed and dropped them in the trash can.

After I made this post, one of my friends E-mailed me saying that Lawrence was possibly a homeless. That really made me feel bad. I never thought of that because he was decently dressed and wore new shoes. He was very particular about the cool temperature of his soft drinks when he emptied the Dr Pepper can into the bottle with a freezing stick in it. As for the money he asked, it happened to me before. Once I was painting in downtown Fort Myers, a guy approached me asking to borrow my cell phone. After he used the phone, he asked me for money, too. Oh well, I will never let people know in future if I am going to paint them en plein air.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Plein Air Oil Sketch: Seals (Oil, 9 x 12)

I knew from last night's weather report that there would not be any thunder storms in Lee County Area, so I decided to paint people sunbathing on the beach. I thought I was well prepared. Instead of using French easel, I put  in the backpack a porchade plein air painting box which was a birthday gift from my children. I drove to the parking lot under the bridge by the Doc Ford Rum Bar & Grill and left my car there. Then I walked over the bridge carrying the backpack with tripod and paint box all the way to the Time Square. By the time I began to set up it was only a little past 8 AM. To my surprise, there was not a single soul there. I was too early for the beach.

After I set up, there came a handsome Brazilian young man named Eduardo who also came to the shaded area under the fishing pier to get ready to run. I asked jokingly, "You could not have enough of good beaches in Brazil and that's why you have come to Florida beach?" He said it is now winter in Brazil and the temperature on beach is in 50s. We had a nice chat. Eduardo is a pious Christian who married an American girl five years ago and followed the bride to this country. Unfortunately the marriage didn't work. Now Eduardo spends a half year here in this country and another half in Brazil. Since there was no other people on the beach, I offered to paint him. He said seriously that he would like me to paint him some other time instead of today because he came to the beach to jog. Therefore, we exchanged our phone numbers. He also introduced me to search online for a young female religious artist named Akiane who donated money she eared by selling her paintings to the cause of helping disadvantaged children in Africa.

People didn't show up on the beach till around 9:20 AM. I noticed three old seals, two female and one male coming near the shadow of the fishing pier. They sort of dipped in water and then rubbed sun screen on themselves and began lying there sun bathing. And I started to paint them right away. The sketch should have take just an hour but there was an accident in the process. I left a better tripod behind in New York and didn't bring it back to Florida. The tripod I had here had thinner legs. I should have foreseen the problem. It could have been easily solved if I had thought of it before I left home. Unfortunately, I didn't and the space in porchade tool box clamps was too big for the tripod legs to hold it firmly. When they could not hold the weight of things in it, the box fell to the ground. Down went with it my turpentine bottle. When I picked it up, there was only very little left. Everything else was mixed with sand. Finally I made do with what was left and got it done. Next time I will used a bigger size panel to paint figures. Obviously 9 x 12 is a little too small.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Oil Sketch: Jonathan Reading by the Pool (Oil 12 x 16)

This morning Jonathan was reading by the pool. He was sitting in the shaded area, so mainly it was a study of value. The whole sketch took only an hour and a half including breaks. Besides, in the process, I made changes to his arms and legs two times.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

En Plein Air: Morning at owl Creek Boat Works (Oil, 12 x 12)

This morning I went to Owl Creek Boatyard. As usual, there were quite a few boats in various sizes. Most of them were power boats. There were few small sailing boats. Some looked in good shape while others were beaten up after years of fun. I notice a traditional style boat on the repair dock. Part of it was in the shadow of Owl Creek Office and its workshop building. Even though the boat is not centered in the picture, the unusual composition is still well balanced I think. I tried to express the lighting contrast.
The name of the boat is Oasis, Morrison, Co.

Friday, August 15, 2014

En Plein Air: A Trail at Harns Marsh (Oil 11 x 14)

As planned last week, I went to Harns Marsh again this morning with Penny and Jon. The painting took two hours. I had to wrap up, hearing thunders rolling and dark clouds coming my way. When I got home, I embellished it from my memory, which, as Jeffrey Watson called, is the last stage of painting and I mainly focused on the painting itself.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Alla Prima Portrait: Michael (Oil, 19 x 12)

Thursday. It was Punta Gorda's VAC portrait studio day. Today's model was Michael. He said it was his second time to sit for portrait painting. No wonder I did notice, during painting, that he looked sleepy. Of course, posing for portrait painting could be very tiring if you are not used to it. No posture is comfortable if you sit for hours. Intermittent breaks would not help much. My portrait today went sort of smoothly and I believe I got him in terms of likeness.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Plein Air Oil Sketch: Heavy Construction Machine (oil 9 x 12)

I meant to paint my friend Woody's tractor and boat buggy at his boatyard this morning. They were in the shade from the trees when I saw them yesterday. I tried to express the nuances of light in the dark shade. However, when I arrived there this morning, they were gone. Of course, I didn't tell Woody that i was going to paint them. Therefore, I drove around in Alva along Highway 78, trying to find an acceptable spot to paint. I ended up finding a place on Tuckhoe Road where there were quite a few heavy construction machines. I stopped there and made this sketch.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

En Plein Air: At Leisure (oil, 9 x 14)

I went to the River Haven Farm this morning. After driving around the farm two times, I decided to paint just the small boat in the canal. The place was so quiet that, while I was concentrated on painting, a noise made either by a bird or by some fruit falling from a tree could have startled me.

Friday, August 8, 2014

En Plein Air: Artist Penny Painting Plein Air (Oil 12 x 16)

This morning I went to Harns Marsh with artist Penny and her husband Jon. Jon is a good photographer and took quite a few beautiful pictures of water birds. I longed for painting figures in the sun, so when I got there and saw Penny had already set up on the roadside, I decided to paint her working in the sun. We went there real early, so by the time I was finished, the temperature was not that bad. The sketch took about two hours.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Alla Prima Portrait: Jacqui (oil 20x 16)

It was Punta Gorda VAC's portrait Studio. Today's model is Jacqui. As you can tell, Jacqui is very skinny and has a personally special look.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

En Plein Air: Empty Shrimp Boat Dock (Oil, 10 x 16)

I went to Fort Myers Beach shrimp boat docks. Unfortunately all the shrimp boats are out at the sea, so  simply painted the empty dock.

Home-Made Gesso and Oil/Acrylic Painting Panels

Today at Fort Myers Beach Art Association (FMBAA), some friends asked me about recipes for home-made Gesso. Actually there are quite a few recipes online. I've found a few and I follow the one which easily uses drywall compound and Elmer glue in a ratio of 3-1. The following are the websites I found:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

En Plein Air Oil Sketch: Janet's Pond (15 x 9)

Morning in Florida presents such a rich and subtle tonal variety that it is the best time to study nuances of the interaction between light and color. If you use color as an artistically expressive vehicle, then you should carefully observe the colors of the woods in morning. I went to River Haven Farm this morning and painted Janet's favorite pond.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

En Plein Air Oil Sketch: Morning Sun (12 x 9)

It was really a quick sketch because I knew the sun would not wait for me. The lighting effect would change very quickly. The whole thing took only an hour and ten minutes. The location is a street corner at the intersection of Leeland Heights Blvd. and Abbot Ave. Yesterday morning when I was biking, I noticed the sun shone through the trees in the wood and lit up a s mall clearing. I told myself that I would come to paint the subtle sunlight effect this morning.
When I was painting, a lady from a nearby house came out to look. She said, "Oh, you are painting. I thought some wild berry pickers came here." I met wild berry pickers in the roadside woods or bushes before. Sometimes, they scared me. When all is quiet around you, suddenly you hear a rustling sound from behind a bush. That could scare you. They are mostly harmless undocumented immigrants trying to make a living by picking wild berries. However, for security reasons, some local residents are hostile to them. I feel sorry for those guys. I guess each of them has a different horrible story about how his/her bad luck in the past has driven him/her to this situation.