Sunday, August 28, 2016


I took a walk in the park this morning and grabbed a few sketches.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Introducing UK Plein Air Artist Peter Brown

Click the above link and watch the video clip.

Peter Brown is one of my favorite UK plein air artists. Watching him paint outside makes you understand how you can approach the process with confidence and authenticity. 

The way Peter Brown looks in the video is a typical image of plein air artists. We are all sloppy dressers and our clothes are dirty, covered with dried paints. Only that way can we be carefree and focused totally on the painting. However, the video reminds me of one experience. It happened about a week ago when I was on Q Bus 54 to the Rockaway Beach. Right after I got on the bus with my kit, the bus driver told me that I should not stand in the middle to block the way to the rear part of the bus. Instead, I should have stood close to the side with single seats. Therefore, I moved my kit next to a lady sitting on a single seat. 

As soon as I moved there, the lady threw me a dirty look and gave my kit a push with her hand. She immediately pulled it back as if it was scorching hot. In fact, my kit didn't touch her. It only looked bad but paints were all dried. Suddenly, it dawned on me that she must take me for a homeless. For quite some time, I had noticed this summer that a few homeless people used the same shopping buggies as I did. Plus my dirty clothes... Aha, I knew what she must be thinking! It tickled me to think of that. So, whenever the bus was shaking, I purposely pressed my kit a little hard toward the lady to get a kick out of her reaction. 

Sketches: Saturday at the Park

Took a walk at the park in the morning and made a few sketches.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

En Plein Air: Jennifer and Ester Chatting on the Lawn (Oil, 8 x 12)

I went to the Forest Park this afternoon, looking for something to paint. It would be the last painting I was going to make in New York this summer. As a matter of fact, one of the purpose I went there was to clear my pochade box. I didn't want to make a mess at home with the leftover paints in the box. I had kept squeezing fresh paints on top of the old. They piled high but dried up and formed a crust. Therefore, even though the box looked pretty full, whenever I needed to mix paint, it was so difficult to get soft paint that I felt like mining in the pochade box with my palette knife. I knew it was time to clear it. Anyway, I am leaving for Florida soon.

When I got to the park, I saw two girls sitting on the grass eating and chatting. Without telling them, I noticed their postures changed frequently. And I had to change the image a couple of times till finally, I caught Ester on the canvas. However, Jennifer began to lie down. When she looked up from the blanket for a moment, I motioned her over. She was excited as she realized I was painting them. Then I asked her if she could sit up for a while. She was very happy to do that for me. I quickly grabbed the moment and completed her image.

After the sketch was completed, I scraped all the paint off of the pochade box. Now I'll say "See you next summer." to my New York fellow artists and "Hello, Florida." to my friends at home.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

En Plein Air: Central Park South (Oil, 12 x 9)

What a pleasant day today! It was cool and breezy this morning. I decided to go to the Central Park. I took F Train and got off at W 57 St. Then I walked to the intersection of W 59 St. and 6th Ave. The place where I set up was a little further west of the Statue of the Peruvian General Jose de San Martin by the short wall of the Central Park. I was facing the sun. It was very comfortable working in the shade of a tree.

Monday, August 22, 2016

En Plein Air: Courtyard of the Hampton Court Apartment Building (Oil, 12 x 9)

It was a beautiful comfortable day. I biked in the morning, so in the afternoon, I didn't want to go too far. Remembering I was told the courtyard of the building was nice, I walked there and did this oil sketch.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

En Plein Air: W. 125th St. 1 Train Station (Oil, 9 x 12)

I went to Harlem, NY this afternoon. In this part of the City, the subway went overhead. On top of the bridge was 1 Train Station. Underneath it was 125th St. The subway tracks went along right over the Broadway. Maybe there was a serious safety issue here 30 years ago, but now it seemed to have much improved. Even though I knew the New York subway  followed a weekend schedule, I had no idea how it worked. As a result, it took me as long as I flew from Florida to New York to get home. I mistakenly pulled my easel up and down the staircase for nothing at the subway stations because of the changed schedule. And it felt like a sauna bath underground at the subway station. What an experience!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

En Plein Air: Kew Gardens Sung Shin Reformed Church (Oil, 12 x 9)

It is located at the street corner of Kew Gardens Rd. and Lefferts Blvd, across from the Maple Grove Cemetery. The official name is Kew Gardens Sung Shin Reformed Church. It is or was, mainly, a Korean church with the name over the entrance spelled in Korean only. I am not sure whether the church is still active or not because I've never seen an signs of religious practice there; nor do I know if it is a Christian denomination or is accepted by the Christian Association. What still remains in my memory is one of my instructors when I was a graduate student belonged to the church. If I do not remember wrong, the church is a weird combination of all major religions including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. Even though I haven't done any research, I guess, judging by the architectural style, it was originally a Christian church. Anyway, in my mind, the Koreans are enthusiastic religious believers. They seem to be extraordinarily active in all religions. I still remember Sun Myung Moon in 80's. They were very aggressive and, sort of like today's Chinese Falungong believers, would chase you down at the airport or malls in order to recruit you.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

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

Each time when I walked in that part of the Forest Hills Gardens, I told myself that I would come to paint it someday. I finally made it this afternoon. The location was Greenway Terrace near the Forest Hills Inn Towers. There was a row of old stone townhouses on the roadside, each having a small front yard with a short stone wall all the way down the sidewalk. The houses had various forms of doorways: some are covered by a small roofed vault; others simply have a wooden arch or trellis. Some families had the ivies lavishly grown over the door. In such humid weather as it was this afternoon, you would really feel blessed walking under the cover of the thick foliage of  the hundred-year-old trees all the way to the Station Square.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

En Plein Air: High and Dry (Oil, 9 x 12)

The scene's location is the Jamaica Bay at the intersection of Cross Bay Blvd and E 6 Rd. As a matter of fact, I noticed the spot yesterday from the bus on my way home. After seeing the view, I was unable to forget it. I decided to paint it today, not knowing if I could still find the place. I followed the route I did yesterday. Luckily I saw it again on the bus. I hopped off at Noel Rd stop and walked back. The weather was cool but very windy. I found it difficult to hold my brush steady. The wind rattled the easel. I know I overdid a little. Learned a lesson.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

En Plein Air: The Long Island Beach (Oil, 9 x 12)

I went to the Rockaway Beach on the Long Island this morning. It was the first time for many years. Of course, it was different from Florida beaches. Honestly, after being so familiar with Florida beaches, I was not too crazy about any other ones. Maybe because of my age. New Yorkers still enjoyed the beaches very much, especially in this weather. I happened to paint a girl from Woodhaven,Queens, named Girlie and her friend. I don't know if I spelled her name right. Right after I set up and got started, they were about to leave. Upon my request, they stayed a little longer and let me finish their images. So the sketch was done pretty quickly.

Monday, August 15, 2016

En Plein Air: Early Birds at the Florist (Oil, 9 x 12)

It is the florist on the street corner of Ascan Ave. and Austin St. I went there pretty early this morning. Workers at the grocery were unloading from the trucks and filling up its stock. The florist was putting out fresh flowers and plants on the shelves. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

En Plein Air: Lynn's House (Oil, 12 x 9)

This is my architect friend Lynn's house. I like its facade with exquisitely-designed vertical planes and big slanting roof, which make the outlook extremely rich for the Tudor house. I went this morning and made the painting.

Friday, August 12, 2016

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

Again it was pretty muggy this morning. I went to the entrance to Forest Hills Gardens on Continental Ave. and planned to paint the clock tower of the Forest Hills Inn. Before I got down to set up, I realized I had already had four mosquito bites on my arms. I immediately bug sprayed my arms, but I changed my mind and didn't want to paint there. In fact, I was not too happy about the lighting anyway. So, I walked along Greenway S. and finally decided to paint the trees in the lawn which is the opposite side of the spot from whichI painted Dancing Across the Street the other day, that is, the place where Greenway S forks. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

En Plein Air: The Backside of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd (Oil, 12 x 9)

This morning I went to the Roosevelt Island to paint the backside of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. I know, you may think of Vicent Van Gogh's church at d'Auvers-sur-Oise, where he spent the last two months of his life. However, the reason I painted the church's backside is different. Van Gogh did it because he, as a Protestant, was not accepted in that Catholic church. I preferred to paint the backside of the church was totally from an aesthetic perspective. I found the church backside was more paintable with its variety of lines and shapes than its facade. The backside was on Main St. I was painting from the sidewalk by the library. It was a covered sidewalk, so I was in the shaded area. That was very fortunate.

Monday, August 8, 2016

En Plein Air: Dancing Across the Street (Oil, 9 x 12)

When I was biking the other day along Greenway South in Forest Hills Gardens, the road forked into Greenway Terrace and Greenway Circle. I saw a girl in a white skirt dance across the street as soon as she was out of a car on the roadside. The image was so eye-catching against the dark woods in the background that I decided right away that I would come back and paint again to paint the scene. I purposely made the image look older. I hope I could, someday, turn it into a larger canvas painting like Kim English whom people called the poetic artist.

Sunday, August 7, 2016


Went shopping this afternoon at Rego Park. Did some sketches on subway and at the food court.

Friday, August 5, 2016

En Plein air: Lexington Ave. on Hilltop (Oil, 9 x 12)

I planned this morning to paint the Untermyer Fountain at the Central Park. Before I left home, I used Google Map to find out how I could get there by subway. I could take either E or F train and then switch to local train B and 6 respectively. However, when I was on the subway, I confused the two different routes. I meant to switch trains at 59 St., but ended up getting off at 53 St. I always dreaded subway transfers at that station because it was very confusing. it was no exception this time, either. By the time I went up three flights of escalators, I realized it was the wrong direction. Going uptown platform was on the other side of the tracks. To make it worse, I suddenly realized , to my dismay, the two parallel escalators were both going up and you had to walk if you were going down. There were no other options. I had to carry my kit all the way down the three steep flights fo staircases. Again, there were no elevators when I got off at E 103 St. Therefore, I had to carry my kit again up all those steps.

When I finally got out the subway station, I realized there was 13 more minutes' walk to the Untermyere Fountain. At that time, I noticed this whole block of Lexington Ave was on the hillside with the next intersection was the hilltop. The whole block was in the shade. exhausted as i was, I didn't even hesitate but crossed the street to set up to paint the hillside street.

On my way to and back from the trip, I grabbed a few sketches on the subway.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

En Plein Air: The Criss-Cross of Highways (Oil, 9 x 12)

I went out late this morning, following the Union Turnpike. After I crossed the busy Queens Blvd. I stopped at the park behind the Courthouse. I saw several highways criss-cross over each other. They are Jacki Robinson Expressway, Grand Central Parkway, and I-678. Standing there, you are able to feel the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Oil Sketch: Jenniffer and Her Baby (Oil, 9 x 12)

It is a cool day today. I didn't go out till after 2 PM, so it was impossible to go too far to paint, especially with my leg problem. I knew there would be sunbathers, dog lovers, and elderlies in the park with a fine weather like this. I I crossed the street to the Forest Park. As I expected, quite a few people were enjoying the cool breeze in the shaded woods expect for the sunbathers. I saw a girl sitting with her legs criss-cross on the grass, playing with a small puppy, most likely a chihuahua. I decided to paint her. However, by the time I had set up. she began to pack her backpack and left with her puppy.

I felt at a loss, wondering what I was going to paint when a young mother with her baby in a stroller coming toward me. She stopped by and said with a smile, "Hi, would you do it if I commission you to paint a picture of my baby?" "Of course," I gave a positive answer. Then I suggested, "Why don't you sit there on the grass with your baby and let me paint you?" I quickly added "It's just a figure sketch. I am not focusing on the face." She agreed. So I made this sketch in 40 minutes at most.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

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

The location is at the corner of 78th Crescent and Grand Central Parkway (Ramp). Because of the change in light over a period of more than an hour, the tree ended up not the original color I had seen in the first place. I may make some changes to it.

Monday, August 1, 2016

En Plein Air: Facade of a New York Apartment Building (Oil, 9 x 12)

A high percentage of New Yorkers live in this kind of hundred-year-old brown-brick apartment buildings. Some of them are better-maintained than the others. As far as their structural design is concerned, they are more or less similar. What piques my interest about those buildings is their facades. It seems that architects of more than one hundred years ago had some concerns about how all the monotonously brown buildings would impact people's emotions and spirits and some of them made it an issue to add a little enrichment or variety to the buildings when they were designing so that their residents might not feel depressed by the boring urban conformity in the building they lived in. Most of them appeared to be focused on the facade of the building. It is understandable because having a beautiful facade was more economically acceptable than do something to the whole building. You could tell from the facade some building designers made an effort to express their personal taste or creativity. Like this one on Austin St., the designer added a big slanting roof and two castle tower windows. To make a change to the solid brown brick wall, the top floor of the two wings at the entrance were made to look like a Tudor house. Underneath the top floor, bay windows were added. It does look much better with the embellishment.