Sunday, November 30, 2014

En Plein Air: Twilight in the Woods (Oil, 9 x 12)

It was warm today, so in the afternoon I decided to go out to paint. It was late, though. By the time I began to set up in the woods, it was already 3 PM. I knew I had to hurry. The whole thing took only an hour. I didn't like staying in the woods by myself in the dark. When I got out of the woods, it was only 4:30 PM, but the dusk was falling rapidly. In a few minutes it was pitch dark.

Alla Prima: Pianist (Oil 9 x 12)

Didn't go out to paint this morning, I did an alla prima figure when my wife was playing piano.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

En Plein Air: Church-in-the-Gardens (Oil, 12 x 9)

Last summer I painted only the entrance of the local congregational church in Forest Hills Gardens because of the thick foliage of street trees. I have long been wanting to paint the church, but the only angle to paint the church in summer was from its back side. I didn't want to do that. For one thing, its back side wasn't that great. More importantly, the perspective reminded me of Vincent van Gogh who painted the back side of the Catholic church in Aur ser ior to express his grievances about not being accepted for the fact he was a Protestant. When I was in France, I purposely went to view the backside of the church in the city where he spent the last two months of his life and eventually died there. Recently research concludes that he didn't commit suicide. His death was in fact due to the foul play of some local hooligans. I am not sure whether it was true. Anyway, his family had a genetic history of mental problems including his brother Theo was was buried by his side in the city.

It was below freezing point in temperature today but didn't feel so bad. The ground was covered with fallen leaves and they still  kept falling. The affluent residential area has hired people to clean the streets for more than a week. When I was painting, I could see workers were busy blowing, raking, and sucking leaves into the trucks. Their work was not expected to complete very soon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Oil Sketch: Wet Snow (9 x 12)

Originally I had planned to go out to paint this afternoon. However, the weatherman wasn't very accurate. The rain, instead of stopping, turned to be wet snow. Therefore, I decided to paint the scene from my window. At the same time, I wanted to practice the technique I recently learned from the internet with the fan brush. It was fun to get the wet day blurry effect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Oil Sketch: Evergreen (6 x 12)

The emerald green pine trees are so gracefully eye-catching in the brownish yellow environment that I had to stop and did this quick sketch.

Monday, November 24, 2014

En Plein Air: Cut Down Tree on Roadside (Oil, 12 x 9)

Maybe this was the most changeable season of the year in New York. The temperature went ups and downs. Today it was in 60s after last night's rain. Even though cloudy, I decided to paint it as it was overcast. I pulled my kit in the Forest Park. People went crazy about the weather. They wore shorts. I was more conservative because I physically simply stood there instead of exercising.

While the ground was still wet, I smelled a funny smell in the woods. Possibly it came from the rotten leaves. Somehow it reminded me of the Chinese ink-stick I used as a child. Remember I strongly resented the odor from the ink-stick when I was told to practice calligraphy. Maybe because of the resentful odor, I was discouraged from becoming a calligrapher. It is a shame. Now I feel it would have given me a lot of help in painting if I had practiced calligraphy well as a child.

I really appreciate the people who took care of the park for their good woek. When I saw the cut down tree, I immediately told myself that I'd like to paint it.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

En Plein Air: Winter's Comin' (Oil, 9 x 12)

It was warmer today, compared with the previous days. I went to Forest Park this afternoon and made this quick sketch.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Images of New York Subway Passengers

When we were on our way back from grocery shopping, somehow the subway was delayed almost at every stop. One of the passengers, who looked like an amigo, was so mad that he swore and kicked the carriage door. However, it gave me an opportunity to sketch the bored passengers. The lady in the last sketch wore a Burger King cap, so I named her the Queen of Burger King.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Working, Reading, Sleeping, Etc. on New York Subway

It was too cold to paint outside today. Besides, the leaves had mostly turned brownish yellow and fallen to the ground. We decided to go see the Turner's printing works show at the City Library on 5th Ave. Even by today's standards, the artifacts were amazingly exquisite. On my way to and back from the library. I made five sketch drawings on subway.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Plein Air Oil Sketch: A Fall Afternoon (12 x 9)

It was freezing today. The temperature was 32 degrees. I wore heavy ski jacket and long johns when I went out to paint in the morning. I don't know whether it was fortunate or unfortunate when one leg of my tripod was disjointed and part of it fell off. Obviously something was either broken or dropped. Therefore, I had to go home and warmed up myself.

I went out in the afternoon with an old tripod which was till usable. I thought it would be warmer than in the morning sun and, also out of laziness, I didn't put back on the long johns after I took them off. When I was standing on the street corner painting, I regretted to realize the price for laziness. I wore vinyl gloves. Shortly after I began, my fingers felt numb. I knew I could not paint this piece as usual and had to hurry through. I simply blocked in color masses. So this one was really quick, only a little more than an hour. Overall, I think I got the atmosphere effect.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Images of New Yorkers (2)

It poured cats and dogs today. I was unable to paint plein air, so I decided to see one of my old friends. On my way to and back, I did the following sketches at subway stations or on subway.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

New Yorkers

This afternoon, my wife and I went to the Frick Collection, the museum part of which was mainly Henry Clay Frick's personal collection. I was shocked to find there a great number of important works by the greatest artists in history, such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, Titian, Holbein, Turner, Constable, Satgent, Monet, etc. to name a few. As usual, I made some sketches on subway except one which is a beggar on the street corner of Lexington Ave. Right before we stepped into the subway station, my wife got a phone call from our daughter, so she stayed on the street corner to talk to her instead of entering the subway because of Wi-Fi. While she was on the phone, I saw a beggar across the street. Therefore,  I made the sketch.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sketchs: Acoustic Guitarists and Subway Passengers

This afternoon two classical acoustic guitarists Gregory Askins and Joseph Parisi did a great presentation at Queens Library. On our way back home, I caught two subway passengers' images.

Friday, November 14, 2014

En Plein Air: Sunset in Forest Hills Gardens (Oil, 12 x 9)

It was cold today, so I simply stayed home and did some reading in the morning. Around 2 PM, from my window I saw everything was so beautiful in the sun outside that I could not hold any more. I went out with my kit to Forest Hills Gardens and noticed the setting sun shed its light on trees and houses. I quickly set up to paint. The chilly air made me feel the fall inside out.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

En Plein Air: Golden Autumn (Oil, 12 x 9)

The location was an apartment building in Forest Hills Gardens. I started at 9 AM. the lighting changed rapidly. Mainly I painted out of the effect, but I believe I got the appropriate relationships and the atmosphere.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

En Plein Air: Study (oil 12 x 9)

Originally I planned to paint some elderly people sitting on the benches in a street corner. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and nobody was there. Therefore, I tried to find a view to paint. It happened that the sky was clearing up. I was so excited that I decided to paint the trees in the sun at the entrance of the bridle path. By the time I was done with setting up and got started, it turned cloudy again. The color relationships were totally different. I had to wrap it up when I realized it was beginning to drizzle.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

En Plein Air: Standing Dead (Oil, 12 x 9)

It was cloudy this morning. I chose the dead tree trunk because it looked different. It was a study again.

In the afternoon, I went with my wife to Forest Hills Jewish Center for their performance at their Autumn Celebration Program. Interestingly, it was held in its dining hall which the organizer had to share with regular card players in the back of the hall. While the performance was going on the stage, the card players were in their own world. They seemed to have shut their ears to anything except the conversation at the card table. The one of the three sketches I included here was two ladies who were watching the performance. The other two were the card players.

Monday, November 10, 2014

En Plein Air: Fallen Tree (Oil, 9 x 12)

Yes, another fallen tree. I have never consciously known till recently that there are so many fallen trees in nature. I was born and grew up in concrete forest of downtown Shanghai and had very little experiences with natural woods, so I was very curious about it. Seeing so many fallen trees, I could not help but think about the causation. Strangely, how did I believe that big trees would never die? Were they sick? Or because of hurricanes? Or overshadowed by other trees?  Death is always saddening. This morning, at first I tried to look for trees which look different either in shape or color. When I was in New England, I loved the birches. they were so different. but there were no birches in New York. As far as shape was concerned, maybe fallen trees looked most different in terms of how they fell and how they laid on the ground.

I could not help but laugh to myself when I thought a guy I met in the woods last week. I felt sorry for him. The few people I met in the woods were mostly dog-walkers. That day when I was walking deep into the woods, I saw ahead of me a man without a dog standing there looking around. Even though he didn't have painting kit, I thought he must be like me, enjoying the natural beauty. It must be some beautiful views that attracted this man so that he simply stopped to enjoy them. So I slowed down to a stop nearby and looked around in an attempt to find a spot to paint. I didn't see anything interesting when the man started to walk again following the zigzag trail. This time he walked quickly. Not finding anything special for myself, I decided to leave the spot and followed the trail, too. Before long, I saw the guy stop again in the woods, looking around. Was there a beautiful view now? I asked myself and looked around again. When the man noticed I was nearing him, he stopped looking around and hit the road again. The third time I saw him, he stopped in the woods, about 30 yards off the trail, and was peeing there. It dawned on me that he had been looking for privacy to pee instead of finding beautiful views. And I had been a nuisance to him all the way there.And now he either was unable to hold it any more, or believed there was no way he could get rid of me. Poor guy.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

En Plein Air: Jason's Kingdom (Oil, 12 x 9)

This morning I went to Jason's home to paint his house as requested. It took two hours.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sketches: Musicians of the Chatham Chamber Ensemble

We went this afternoon to a chamber music concert at Forest Hills Library. There were three musicians from the Chatham Chamber Ensemble performing classic woodwind works, such as Mozart's Divertimento No. 2, Astor Piazzolla's Tangos and so on. They were bassoonist Roe Goodman, clarinetists Natasha Fearnside and Stephen Poppel. Their performance was excellent. Unfortunately, from where I sat, I could only see the first two musicians and I missed Stephan Poppel in my sketch. I also included one library patron who was studying hard at the library.

That is one of he things I love New York for. That is, the public libraries frequently present high-quality professional music performances.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Unfinished Sketches

In the afternoon, my wife reminded me that we should go to Costco and other places to do some shopping. I forgot there was only one stop on the subway to our destination, so all the three sketches were not completed.

En Plein Air: Railroad Running Through the Woods (Oil, 12 x 9)

It was raining yesterday, so I just stayed home reading. Fortunately, it cleared up this morning. I went to the woods and came on to a railroad under thick foliage. Someone said it was Long Island Railroad, but I doubted it because during the two hours I was painting there, I didn't see passenger trains going by every half hour as I was told. Instead I only saw two freight trains passing. Anyway, it was secluded and quiet there.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tree Study (Oil 12 x 9)

The sky was overcast the whole day in spite of my wishful thinking that it would clear up in the afternoon. By 2:30 PM, I believed the sun would not show up today, so I got my stuff and pulled the kit to the Forest Park. I walked deep into the woods in an attempt to find an interesting tree I saw yesterday. Instead, I came to this old tree which came up like a giant fork but somehow one trunk snapped and fell down dead to the ground. The other half was still growing. Therefore, I decided to paint it.

Since the time change, it gets dark really early in New York, so I had to rush. The whole piece took only a little more than an hour. When it was getting dark, I didn't have time to clean away paint from the pochade box and was in a hurry to pack everything into my backpack and close the tripod. I was a little concerned since there was no one else in the woods and I was kind of lost. Fortunately, I simply walked in the direction of where the traffic noise came from. I got home before it was totally dark.

Maybe I wanted to make a point to pull the tree away from its background, I realized when it was finished that I shouldn't have made the tone change so sharply. At least I have learned something about the tonal nuances.