Tuesday, December 30, 2014

En Plein Air: Farm Sprayer (Oil 11 x 14)

A few days ago my wife and I stopped by to buy some fresh veggies at a framers' market on Highway 80 (Palm Beach Blvd.), not far from the site which used to be the Eden Winery. When I saw quite a few pieces of farm machinery, I asked the owner if I could come back later to paint. The answer was yes. Therefore, this afternoon, I went there and picked this farm sprayer on the roadside to paint. It took two hours. It was a good practice.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ink Wash: Male Figure

I didn't go out to paint, but stay home practicing some techniques with leftover oil paints. After that I went online to make some ink wash with Croquis Cafe and New Masters Academy. The following is one of them.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

En Plein Air: The Alva Island on Dock (Oil, 11 x 14)

I went to my friend Woody's boatyard and saw their family boat the Alva Island on dock. I was carried away by the scene's value relationships in the morning sun, so I did a quick sketch.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sketching at Coconut Point Shopping Center

There was an art sale at Coconut Point Shopping Center, so my wife and I went there this morning. Later, when she went shopping, as usual I sat on the street sketching holiday shoppers. The following are a few of what I did there. At first I sat in a street corner where there was a food booth named Auntie Anne's. Later I moved to the square near Teavana.

Reading at Teavana

Smoking Cigar

 Taking a Break on His Walker

Talking to the Impatient

Buying Food at Auntie Anne's

Buying Food at Auntie Anne's

Leaning Against the Wall at Victoria's Secret

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

En Plein Air: Joyce and Laila (Oil, 15 x 12)

I left home this morning around 8:30 AM with nothing in my mind to paint for the day. When my car hit Palm Beach Blvd., I realized I had not been to the town seat of Alva for quite some time. Therefore, I turned right on Broadway, and then followed the North River Road (Highway 78), heading west.

I just drove out of the town when a familiar site brought something back from my memory. It was a house lot on the roadside. There used to be a small farmhouse with rusty roof sitting there. The first time I painted the house was nearly five years ago. The second time I drove by, I was shocked to see it had been burned down. Like today, I was on the road looking for object for my plein air painting. So I pulled over and found a sad sight. The house was totally grounded except the shack's rusty roof still hanging from the charred frame. The floor beams laid there almost in the same shape as the foundation, only terribly burned. Here and there,you could see children's toys, daily stuff, clothes scattered around. From those things, you could picture a family life with robust children playing around the house. I made a painting again of the burned down house. For both paintings you could find in my blog's "Painting Gallery".

Today as I was nearing the site, I noticed it had been cleaned. Tree branches were tidily piled on one side and annuals, which must have been planted around the house, were still seasonally in full blossom, not knowing no one was there to appreciate their beauty anymore. My eyes quickly moved to a big tree leaning over the dirt road which used to be the drive. Then I noticed a tire hanging from its bough slightly swaying in breeze. It must have belonged to the children of the family. Then I noticed the tire had been recently decorated with garland around it. When I walked closer, I saw Christmas candy ticks and flowers were there under the tire with two solar-powered lights, one on each side. Behind the flowers there were two small crosses with the names of Joyce and Laila written on them. I suddenly felt like being struck by a lightning. Those girls were killed in the fire! I had never known it. After that I also noticed at the base of the tree were two old pumpkins with "Happy Halloween" and "Love you" written on them. I felt sad and realized it was under this tree, the devastated parents came to mourn the girl they lost in the deadly fire. There was also a headless stone statue next to the crosses. It seemed to be a replica of some Indian antique. It had been wrapped with Christmas decoration. I guess he was invited to play the role of guarding angel.

I didn't know what kind of tree it was. It looked like Banyan tree but I was not very sure. I decided to paint the tree in honor of the two unknown girls.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Plein Air Portrait: Young Beauty Malka (Oil, 20 x 16)

After lunch I went to local Veteran Park, knowing I could always see many school children biking or skateboarding there on weekend. Sometimes, there were also young people sitting there chatting and relaxing. I planned to paint either bikers/skateboarders or young people slouching against the fence chatting and laughing. Maybe it was still early after lunch that there had not been many bikers or skateboarders there. Nor were there many slouchers. Some adults sat at picnic tables with food and drink for their children.

When I got there, there was a lady at one of the tables. As I was deciding what to paint, she took the initiative to ask me, "Are you from China?" It was not the first time that strangers were interested in where I was originally from. As an educator, I knew in many people's mind, the misconception was a hard nut to crack that Asians were forever foreigners. Anyway, people meant no harm, so I responded, "Yes, but it was a long time ago. I am now as much of American as of Chinese." Then she told me that her name was Elka and she came to the park with three of her children. The two boys were skateboarding somewhere at the playground and she was deciding whether she should do some reading there or use the time to tidy her car. Suddenly, I got an idea and proposed to her, "If you don't mind, I'd like to paint you sitting there. You may do anything you want to." When she agreed to pose for me in the shade from the tree, a voice came from behind her on the other side of the picnic table, "I was to be painted." It was her five-year-old beautiful daughter Malka. Then her mother asked me, "Do you think you can paint her?" I said of course.

Malka was a very beautiful girl with Jewish mother and Indian father. She sat in the shade and the value differences on her face were very subtle and soft. Children are after all children. Before long Malka needed a break, so for several times she simply took her skateboard to play for a while before she came back to sit for me. It was a good practice to me. I had never painted portraits in such subtly soft light.

The following is an interview done with me by journalist Michael Perlman from Forest Hills Times, New York two weeks ago (http://foresthillstimes.com/view/full_story/26251001/article-Destined-to-paint-Forest-Hills).

Destined to paint Forest Hills

by Michael Perlman
weimin mo
If you are taking a leisurely stroll around Forest Hills among the trees, the Tudor architecture, or the commercial thoroughfares, you may have stepped into the setting of an oil painting by Weimin Mo, an accomplished artist who sets up an easel and a canvas and captures the neighborhood.

Mo is a native of Shanghai, China. who lives on the outskirts of Fort Myers, Florida, with his wife. Now at age 70, he cherishes his post-retirement life, where he can share quality time with his daughter in New Jersey or son who still calls Forest Hills home, and paint on a nearly daily basis.

“If the weather is nice, I simply go outside and paint,” he said. “If I am going grocery shopping, I sketch with ink on the subway.”

Fans can purchase one of his hundreds of works on hisblog. Works are complemented by summaries of his interpretations of a scene and experiences. In addition, Mo works on commission to paint portraits, houses, boats, or any topic of interest.

Mo’s oil paintings includes “Forest Park, Queens...The Place Where Bridle Path and Human Path Meet,” “The Felders’ Sweet Home,” “Stone Steps To The Terrace,” and “Entrance to the Church-in-the-Gardens.”

“You ask yourself why the homes in the Forest Hills Gardens appear so beautiful, and you can see how the architects who designed them tried to think in terms of their rich variety in a natural environment,” he said.

Mo practives “plein-air,” a technique that stems from painting in the “open air,” which became a dominant aspect of French Impressionism. He sets a goal for each work, and if he fulfills it he is pleased.

“I painted a tree in Forest Park, and wanted to focus on the trunk and its surrounding areas,” he said of a recent work. “It doesn’t have to be a complete scene.”

One of the happiest periods in his life was in high school, when he would visit the atelier of famed watercolor artist Ha Ding.

“We would paint and draw, and he introduced me to many other famous artists who were educated in the Western world,” said Mo.

Another influence was his father, a silk manufacturer. Nevertheless, great achievements are often motivated by harsh experiences, such as when he was reeducated by the military during the period of the Cultural Revolution.

“I had to work on a farm and take care of rice seedlings, but was then told that I could paint ads on walls for propaganda,” he said.

In 1981, Mo arrived in America. After earning a Doctoral degree in 1993, he became an educator and later retired from the University of South Florida.

Mo considers himself an old-timer who has witnessed a world with many changes, but among the consistent factors is the existence of art and its therapeutic properties.

“No matter how different people are politically or culturally, people can always find their common spot in art, and from there, we can discover each other’s beauty,” he said. “Art is a universal language that makes hardships more tolerable and people friendlier.”

Mo recently learned about the new opportunities for local artists in spots such as Red Pipe Organic Café, La Boulangerie, and Ovo Sodo.

“I am interested in displaying my artwork, and also hope to become more familiar with the people of Forest Hills,” he said. “Maybe I will paint them too someday.”

Mo has already expressed interest in painting the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium and Forest Hills High School.

“Always find your own niche in art,” said Mo. “I want people to look at my paintings and realize a scene is beautiful, even though it’s very common. There is something extraordinary in what’s ordinary. You don’t need to travel far, since it doesn’t matter what you paint, but how you paint it.”

Saturday, December 20, 2014

En Plein Air: Palm Grove at Trailhead Park (Oil, 13 x 13)

I didn't go very far today and went to Trailhead Park in the afternoon to paint the palm grove in the afternoon sun. It took two hours.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Alla Prima Portrait: Jenny (Oil, 20 x 16)

It was the last portrait studio session of the year at VAC Punta Gorda. There were two models today. I happened to set up at the site where Jenny posed for us. She is a pretty girl. I hope I did her good look justice.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

En Plein Air: Afternoon at the Stable (Oil, 13 x 13)

This is the first painting since I was back from New York. Originally I meant to go out to paint in the morning. Unfortunately, something happened and I didn't go in the morning. So I went out in the afternoon to my friends, the McIntosh's home and made this quick sketch at their stable.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Alla Prima: Central Park Scavenger (Oil, 9 x 12)

It is cold today in New York and had snow in the morning. This snowbird is ready to fly south. However, there was  in my pochade box still some leftover paint which I hated to see wasted. So I decided to play with color this morning. From the morgue I selected a photo I took last summer at the Central Park and made this painting to serve the purpose of practicing some techniques.

I went to Forest Hills Library to check out some books. There are always some Russian chess players playing at the reading room tables. I heard some library goers complain because sometimes they took all the six reading tables for them to play chess. Some of them made loud noise. I have never heard them speak English, always Russian.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Today's Sketches and Introduction to Contemporary Chinese-American Virtuoso Zhaoming Wu

It was too freezing cold today to paint outside. I went to MET this afternoon to conduct my regular worship service. As a pantheist of art appreciation, there are so many of my gods to worship at MET. 

On F train I happened to draw two Muslin ladies. One of them seemed to belong to the orthodox denomination because she wore the kind of robe which covered her from head to toe and reminded me of Shahrazad, leaving only a slit for her eyes. When I got off at Lexington Ave. The lady got off, too. She came after me, calling from behind, "Excuse me, sir." "Uh oh," I thought to myself, "I am in trouble now. Did I offend her or violate her religion by drawing her?" Fortunately, what she wanted was asking me to let her take picture of my sketch with her cell phone. I felt relieved and was more than happy to let her do that. Even though I could not see her face, but she had a beautiful voice and spoke standard English.

Two Passengers on Subway

Two Girls on Subway

Fumbling Cellphone on Subway

Introducing Contemporary American Virtuoso Zhaoming Wu



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sketches on A Rainy Day

It has been raining really hard the whole day. No plein air painting. It happened that Composer, conductor, and Jazz pianist Edward Kalendar was performing Christmas carols and melodies improvised with jazz this afternoon at Queens Library. I went there and he autographed my sketch.

 Jazz Pianist Edward Kalendar

 Forty Winks on Subway

Working on Subway

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Eh Plein Air: The Felders' Sweet Home (Oil, 9 x 12)

After a depressing rainy day yesterday, I was so glad to see the sun shine. Shortly after I entered the Forest Hills Gardens neighborhood this afternoon, a house caught my eyes. It was not a huge mansion. However, from architectural perspective, it was a beautiful cozy house with a rich variety of vertical planes. There are two things that made the view unusually attractive. First, the sunlight shining through the cracks of the tall trees made it stand out against a dark background. Secondly, the house sat on a land which sloped deeply down to a dark blue clearing. Together with the house, it formed a dream-like scenery. Therefore, I immediately set up and made this painting. During painting, I happened to meet with one of the house owners who was a very friendly gentleman.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

En Plein Air: A Chilly Wet and Depressing Day (Oil, 12 x 9)

It was not very cold in the morning and temperature was in mid-40s. However, maybe because of the rain last night, both the precipitation and humidity were high. I went to the Church-in-the-Gardens again. The church to me has, sort of, become something like the Rouen Cathedral to Claude Monet. Mainly for today, I didn't want to go too far from home since it was kind of late when I decided to go out to paint. Besides, the weather conditions and the angle were very different from what I did before. Shortly after I set up, it got more and more overcast and darker. Moreover, it began to drizzle and the temperature felt chillier than before. For all these reasons, I decided to paint the church again.

Monday, December 1, 2014

En Plein Air: Scientific Christian Church (Oil, 9 x 12)

The weather was pretty warm today. The sky was clear early in the morning, but it got cloudier later. From time to time, the sun peeped out through the cracks of the clouds. The Scientific Christian Church in the residential area of Forest Hills Gardens was out of business. I am not sure if I could use the term for church. Anyway it was closed. I like its architectural structure. Last summer I went there to paint its entrance. You may find the sketch in the Painting Gallery of this blog. The church property has been put on the market and the asking price is $7.5 million.