Friday, July 31, 2015

En Plein Air: Oil Sketches made at Station Square, Forest Hills

My friend David and I planned to paint plein air this morning at the Stations Square, which is actually the gateway to Forest Gardens. We both liked the place and felt it had a kind of European flavor. In David's words, it gives you a feeling of being in Germany or something like that. I went there earlier. There happened to be a graceful lady named Kaare reading newspaper, so I wasted no time to set up and sketch her. Half way in the painting, she realized that I was sketching her. She was gracious enough to give me a little more time to wrap it the painting.

Kaare (oil, 12 x 9)

An Apartment Building's Rooftop at Station Square
Oil, 12 x 9

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

En Plein Air: Summer Morning (Oil, 12 x 9)

I went to Forest Hills Gardens early in the morning. The location for the setup was the intersection of Norden Rd. and Whitson St. It was very quiet.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

En Plein Air: Railroad Overhead (Oil 9 x 12)

This is an overhead at the intersection of Hillside Ave. and 118th St. I noticed it when I went to Queens Library at Richmond Hill. The overhead is in its neighborhood.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

En Plein Air: Buggy Ride (Oil, 9 x 12)

I went to Rockefeller State Park today and made this sketch. It was very beautiful there.

Friday, July 24, 2015

En Plein Air: Summer Noon and Something Else

Late this morning, my friend David Stein and I decided to paint at Forest Gardens. it was a clearing in the woods with a short wall on one side. Also posted here are the yoga master Rajdutt and the graceful lady Lea. They were completed yesterday but neither of them are to my satisfaction. When the sun was up in the sky, Rajdutt looked like a black-white photo. The sun was directly in my eyes and I had to wrap it in a hurry. For Lea's portrait, maybe because of the disruptive environment, without my knowing, I digressed from the expressive and concise draft to something quite different. Lea is such a paintable lady. I would like to repaint her if she would let me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Figure/Portrait Painting: Rajdutt and Lea

I went to the Park this morning to continue the painting of Rajdutt. When I got there, she and her husband were already jogging. I quickly got to the bench and set up. I was ready by the time she came to practice yoga on the bench. She wore an orange robe and I liked its reflection on her face. However, she sat only about 20 minutes and stood up, saying she had to go. Fortunately, I got her face. I added a blurred background after she left but was not satisfied. I may change it tomorrow. One way or another I have to wrap up even if it is only another 20 minutes.

Some dog walkers sat not far from me. One of them, Lea, agreed to let me paint her. She let me paint for around 40 minutes. She said she would be there tomorrow, too. So it is to be continued, too.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Oil Sketches at the Park

Since the temperature in the morning was not bad, I went to the Forest Park, pretty early this morning. I saw an Indian couple was sitting on the bench practicing yoga. During their break, I asked the lady if I could paint her. She didn't speak English. When I gestured to her that I was an artist and wanted to do her a painting, she nodded her head with a smile before she went back to the bench and continued her yoga practice.

In about 15 minutes when I had barely blocked in large chunks of color, a Russian woman came and the Indian couple got off the bench and stopped their practice. When I asked what was going on, the Russian woman told me that the Indian lady was going to teach a yoga class. Obviously she was one of Rajdutt's disciples.When she saw my unfinished painting, Rajdutt asked her disciple to translate to me that she would be on the same bench at 6:50 AM tomorrow morning and I could go on with my painting of her. I am an early riser so it would not be a problem with me. Therefore, I put away the draft and used a new canvas paper to paint the homeless, sleeping not far behind her.


Sleep-In at the Park

Monday, July 20, 2015

En Plein Air: Church Under the Canopy (Oil, 12 x 9)

It was a humid morning. As I was walking along Greenway N., I noticed the sporadic sunlit patches on the Church-in-the Gardens as well as the tall old trees surrounding it. When the painting was finished, I sort of had double feelings about it. As a study, I seemed to have caught the value relations. However, as a learning experience, I knew I failed. Because from the very beginning, I told myself that I should change my usual approach and learn to paint like Russian artist Bato Dugarzhopov does, that is, to focus on color relations in such a simplified way that I shouldn't consider form of the objects and let the process take care of it. I knew it was a tug of war with myself to change my regular approach. I needed to control myself in every moment of the process, but it was not easy and, sometimes, I forgot and went back my usual way. Things like that often happen in my self-teaching experiences.

Unsatisfied with myself, when I got home, I pulled out my painting kit and redid it using impasto for the first time. I present it as below. No matter what you think of it, I do feel there is something new to consider in my approach when I paint outside from now on, especially the color scheme.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sketches: Images at the Playground

New York City is hit by a heat wave. I didn't go out to paint but went to the Forest Park in the morning and did some sketches at its playground.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

En Plein Air: Slope in the Park (Oil, 9 x 12)

It is the first time this summer that I have ever been caught in the rain. The weatherman didn't mention any rain for today in his forecast, so I went out early this morning. The painting is a trail in Forest Park bordering the street. The slope went up alongside Park Lane S. with quite a few cars parking on the roadside as always. On hearing thunders rumbling, I began to rush the process. I was almost done when it poured down. Fortunately, I had enough time to put away the painting. I ran to shelter myself from a big tree nearby, leaving the kit in the rain. I knew it was not safe to stand under big trees during thunder storm but just wanted to take the chance with so many big trees around. When the rain became less heavy, I went to collect my things and headed home. I was soaked through by the time I got home. with a few finishing touches, I can present my plein air work today. That is a comfort, considering what I have experienced today.

Friday, July 17, 2015

En Plein Air: Forest Gardens Gateway (Oil, 12 x 9)

Maybe you have noticed that recently I am painting a lot of shadows and shaded areas. It is true I am studying color and value relations in terms of lighting. Sometimes the differences are so intriguing that you have to pay attention to the nuances in order to express accurately their relations. What I did this morning is just one of the studies.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

En Plein Air: Face Lifting (oil, 12 x 9)

It was a very comfortable sun-shiny day this morning. I went to Columbus Circle. As soon as I got out of the subway station there, I saw some government employees were pressure washing the statues at the entrance of the Central Park. I didn't hesitate but set up to paint this scene immediately.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

En Plein Air: Maple Grove Cemetery II (Oil, 12 x 9)

I took a chance on the weather this afternoon. The temperature was not bad, but the air very stuffy. It felt misty and there were already people in street walking with umbrellas open. I didn't want to go too far from home, so I went to Maple Grove Cemetery again. It was always very quiet there. I saw a car parked on its winding road. From a distance, I saw three women came out with bouquets of flowers. I could not see their faces but obviously one of them was an elderly because the other two held her arms as they walked toward a grave. I suddenly felt they were forming a beautiful picture and thought to myself that maybe someday I would make a painting of the view.

It didn't rain and I made a quick sketch.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

En Plein Air: A Crisscross of Railroad Overheads (Oil, 9 x 12)

I was lucky today. The rain didn't start to pour till I was back home. Before i left home I knew it was going to be overcast and felt it might fit better the scene I was about to paint. It was an impoverished area which I noticed on my way to the headquarters of the River Fund organization which I was invited to paint the other day. I was told that one of the two railroad was to Long Island Railroad and the other was A Train.

I set up with my back to the fence of Richmond Hill Library. There are actually three streets intersect each other under the overheads. They are Lefferts Blvd., Baggage St. (funny name, isn't it?), and Jamaica Ave.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sketches of Folk Musicians from Alan Friend Band

This afternoon Forest Hills Public Library presented a free concert of folk music, performed by a band named Alan Friend which is based in Brooklyn NY ( The music was beautiful, mainly old-time bluegrass or Appalachian traditional songs. Most of the audience were elderly people. Unfortunately, the library A/C unit broke down. In addition to that, some old wacky people behaved like children, who either could not stop talking loudly or fought over vacant seats which some insisted were saved for their friends. I am not sure if it had anything to do with the temperature in the room. Looking at those people, I realized aging without a clear mind was a terrible thing.

En Plein Air: Before the Business Hours (Oil, 9 x 12)

I knew I was a little late this morning. I meant to paint the scene maybe a half hour earlier so that there would be only a slit of sunshine on the awning. It was the intersection of Austin St. and 72nd Ave. I was first impressed by the orange color of the awning in the morning sun. It was was a restaurant named "Twist and Mash'd". Down the road was a new "Toys R Us" store which would soon have a grand opening.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

En Plein Air: The Backside of Church of the Resurrection (Oil, 12 x 9)

Church of the Resurrection is a place of historic interest in Kew Gardens, NY. The reason I painted it from its backside is not the same as Van Gogh did a church in Auvers Sur Oise. I painted its backside because its history was shown better this way.

It was first built in 1874 by Jacob Riis. President Teddy Roosevelt attended the wedding ceremony of Clara Riis, daughter of Jacob Riis. It has ever since been rebuilt a couple of times but there are still some relics preserved from the early days. From the backside, you can see the old church stonewalls and its chimney. It is said the stain glass windows are very old.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

En Plein Air: Austin Ale House II (Oil, 12 x 9)

I painted Austin Ale House a second time this afternoon. It was a popular sports bar on Austin St. Like the first time, it was still a cloudy day. I remember the orange umbrellas looked very bright and standing out on a sun-shiny day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

En Plein Air: Tuesday in the Park (Oil, 9 x 12)

Originally I planned to paint Austin St. when the morning sun shone through the crack between buildings on an orange-color store facade while the rest of the street was still asleep in dark blue shadows. However, it was cloudy in the morning and it was late. So I just walked across the street to go to the park and made this painting.

Monday, July 6, 2015

En Plein Air: The Sun Rising on Our Lady Queen of the Martyrs Church (Oil, 12 x 9)

A few days ago, I happened to pass by the church in early morning and noticed the beautiful scene when the morning sun shone on it with the lower part of the building still submerged in dark blue shadow. So I went there this morning to paint the scene. Fortunately, it was a sun-shiny day.

En Plein Air: The River Fund Organization Headerquarters (Oil, 16 x 12)

I was invited to paint the building of the River Fund Headquarters on Lefferts Blvd. yesterday afternoon. And it was also the time I got to know this charity organization which did a great job in helping the needy in New York City.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

En Plein Air: Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, A Roman Catholic Church on Queens Blvd. (oil, 12 x 9)

Originally I planned to paint some stores on Austin St. in the morning. I got the idea because recently when I walked passing by the intersection of 72nd Ave. a couple of times in the morning, I was fascinated by the crack of sunshine on the stores early in the morning. However, this morning it turned out to be cloudy after a morning thunderstorm.

This old church happened to be between Queens Blvd. and Austin St. in the block. Three years ago I painted it from a distance. Today I did a close-up, sort of.