Tuesday, May 31, 2016

En Plein Air: A Shaded Trail (Oil, 12 x 9)

I didn't go out to paint yesterday because it was raining. Instead my wife and I went to a movie, The Meddler. The Rotten Tomato gave it a pretty high rating for review but it was a disappointment.

This morning I went to Forest Hills Gardens to paint. There was a spot I liked very much. It was a big dip in the land and looked like a small pasture valley in this suburban area. I also liked the small winding trail in the woods. Surrounding the clearing high up on all sides were million-dollar, or even multi-million-dollar houses. While I was painting, two of the house owners came out to watch me paint. To my surprise, they were Chinese and Russian. Is capitalism dying or what? Are the communists taking over this country? Obviously, the two ladies with children were new immigrants. The Russian lady could speak very little English. They reminded me of another experience last summer.

When I was painting at the entrance of Forest Hills Gardens near Queens Blvd one day last summer, a guy came over to watch me paint. As in most of the times when I was painting outside, he and I started a casual conversation. When I came to the topic of architectural beauty of the neighborhood, I said, "The real estate market must be very good in this area." Unexpectedly, the guy raised his voice and responded, "The rich Chinese came and bought them all..." I sensed a displeased tone in his voice, but he discontinued his talking, as abruptly as he raised his voice in the beginning. I turned around and looked at him, realizing he was staring at my Chinese face. He must be thinking he had offended me. With a smile, I told him, "Don't you worry! I am just a starving artist and hate those filthy rich guys, too, for kicking up the realty prices." Immediately his face melted into an embarrassed smile. After that we gave a hearty laugh together.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

En Plein Air: Roadside Parking (Oil, 9 x 12)

The purpose of the painting is to study light, but I believe I overdid what I planned to.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

En Plein Air: Statue and Trees (Oil, 9 x 12)

It is the Overlooking Point of Forest Park across from where I live. My purpose with the painting was simply to practice painting trees. I selected a big tree with a Holocaust memorial statue nearby. Since there is a high percentage of residents in this neighborhood with Jewish background, evidently they set up the statue there in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust. Atrocities like that will affect several generations. So does Chinese so-called Cultural Revolution. However, because of the totalitarian regime, most of the voices have been muffled. How much longer can Chinese tolerate that?

Friday, May 27, 2016

En Plein Air: Onslow PL (Oil, 9 x 12)

I got an infection on my leg for quite some time and the doctor told me yesterday that I had to treated with an incision. Therefore, I was unable to go out to paint yesterday because of the cut. I didn't go far today either, just two blocks away.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

En Plein Air: New Yorker's Drive (Oil, 12 x 9)

I didn't go very far this morning, just walking two blocks down Grenfell St.. I was impressed by the limited space and the narrow drives of those old houses on roadside and decided to make it as my today's subject. I chose one which was not only narrow, but also kind of hilly. Standing across from the street I realized that I needed a little more distance from the object. I saw a guy sitting in the porch talking to someone like a lawn serviceman. Over I went and asked for permission to set up on his drive. The guy, whose name was Joe, was very nice and eventually I set my easel almost on his porch steps.

After I was done with the painting, Joe offered iced water to me. We had a chat and it turned out that Joe was a college professor in architectural engineering. I realized that we had a lot in common. Experiences like that often encourages me not to forget the good side of human nature. The reason I say that is because of another experience not long ago with a total stranger.

If you scroll my blog down to the post on April 17, 2016, you'll see the following painting posted with the title Bird Watcher Larry.

His full name is Larry Weidel. He is the author of Serial Winner, a book on business sale techniques, and amateur photographer. After I completed the painting, Larry offered to buy it. However, he told me he didn't have cash with him. He asked whether I took credit card. I told him that I didn't. I gave him the painting after I took a picture with my cell and asked if he could send me a check. He said yes and quickly added, "I am an honest man. I'll put in mail right away." So, I gave him my address. Unfortunately, to this day, I haven't received his check yet. I guess he IS a serial winner in business. 

What makes me sad about that experience is not the check but it has negatively reinforced what James Madison said about human nature. I was shocked at his assertion about human depravity and wickedness when I first read something he wrote. He said that humans are mired by passions, self-interest, and habits of vice. 

I guess I need to caution myself to have a balanced view on human nature.

The following is an addition on 5/29/2016

I called his office a couple of week ago, but he has never responded till after I wrote the above post. I finally heard from him today in an E-mail. It reads as follows:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


It was a rainy day today. I didn't go out for plein air. On my way to and back from my friend Karl's, I did a few sketches on subway. Here are some of them.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Plein Air Painting and Formation of Batuque Art Group

My artist friends David and Ariel agreed to do plein air painting together from time to time as we did last summer. As planned, we met this morning at Kew Gardens Railway Station. For today, a new artist named Esabelle joined us in the activity. David mentioned that we needed a name for our group. Ariel suggested using the name of Batuque for our group. Ariel is from Brazil and batuque is a term for a Brazilian song and dance genre which originated in Africa. At first I felt it sounded pretty exotic, but after learning a little more about it, I thought with its strong quick tempo and folksy flavor it sort of resembled the way we handled our activities. Therefore, we all agreed on the name.

We didn't go far but just painted around the railway station. I made one of the the platform.

  Kew Gardens Railway Station

After lunch, we went to Caffe Bene together. The cafe had a deck on the sidewalk. There was a bus stop right down there. Since the bus led to JFK Airport, there were a lot of passengers waiting there. The three of us sat on the deck and drew the endless line of passengers the whole afternoon till it was past 5 PM.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

En Plein Air: Old House in Neighborhood (Oil, 9 x 12)

There are many old houses in the neighborhood where I live. It is always interesting to study their architectural features of style. Some of them are easy to be categorized in terms of style while most of them are mixtures and it is difficult to lay your finger on it. Unlike most modern residential houses in Florida with their straight lines and plain facade, it seems, aesthetic values was always an important consideration in the minds of these architects. I saw one on Park Lane, not far from my home, with an extended half-cylindrical part which is kind of octagon in shape even though only four sides are shown in facade. Its narrow windows remind me of a castle or cathedral. I set up on sidewalk and painted that part.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

En Plein Air: Kew Gardens Railroad Station Square (Oil, 9 x 12)

After doing a few pieces of wood scenery, I craved some kind of cityscapes, so this morning, in spite of my feeble feeling due to the flu and pain in legs, I pulled the kit all the way uphill to the railroad station. That part of Austin St was pretty hilly. Finally I set up across the street by a hydrant on Mowbray Drive so that no one would come to park his car and block my view.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sketches Done on Subway

It was Sunday. I went this morning to MET to worship my gods. Mainly I studied John Singer Sargent, Velazquez las Meninas, Mazo, Johannes Vermeer, and Remblandt, etc. On my way to and back from MET, I did some sketches on Subway. The following are some of them.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

En Plein Air: Keep Off the Grass! (Oil, 9 x 12)

In addition to my sciatica problem, now I've got sinus and upper respiratory inflammation, which most probably, flared up from fatigue of the trip. Therefore, I didn't want to go too far away. When I was walking in Forest Hills Gardens, I noticed the sun shined from behind a row of condos and made the tree leaves and the orange plastic net fence stand out against the dark background. I decided to paint the scene. Again, I was experimenting with palette knives and it was completed in not quite an hour and a half.

Jazz Concert at Forest Hills Public Library

This afternoon at Forest Hills Public Library, there was a Jazz concert A Tribute to Stan Kenton's Ladies of Cool Jazz Vocalist, mainly 50s and 60s jazz. I loved it. To me, that's kind of music soothes the soul. I did a couple of sketches. The following are two of them.

Jazz Musicians

An Old Jazz Fan Waiting for the Concert to Begin

Friday, May 13, 2016

En Plein Air: Spring Dance (oil, 9 x 12)

The weather person said this morning that it was going to rain around noon, so I didn't go too far into the Forest Park woods. I followed a trail to a spot where, with dead tree trunks lying on the ground, I saw two trees which reminded me of a painting by British artist Edward Seago.

I rushed through mainly with palette knives and by 10 AM, I was done.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

En Plein Air: Tudor House on Greenway South (Oil, 9 x 12)

It was simply a warm up since I had not painted in oil for nearly a month. However, I did experiment with using more palette knives after I watched a video clip about British artist Andrew Gifford. After I finished the painting, I realized that it resembled the painting of Dr. Folder's house which I did before.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sketches Done at Playground

I squeezed new paint into the paint box today and checked everything else in the kit. I am ready to paint plein air tomorrow. As for today, I went to the park playground and did some sketches.

Arab Woman

Relaxing in the Sun

Mother and Child

Watching Children Play


Making Use of the Time

Following the Child

Chatting Parents