Friday, August 18, 2017

Sketches at the Airport

The flight was delayed time and again yesterday. I decided since I was stuck in the airport, I might as well make full use of the "free models".

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer Break

I'll take a summer break and stop painting for a while. However, I may still post my sketches from time to time.

Sketch: How Can I Help You ? (Acrylic, 16 x 12)


I went to the Congregational Church this morning. Usually, they had a big food pantry on Fridays. On Saturday, some people might still come for bread. There were always a few volunteers who took care of the remaining work. Mike was one of them.

Friday, August 11, 2017

En Plein Air: The Reserved Parking Lot at FSW State College (Acrylic 9 x 12)

I went this morning with the Lee Plein Air Artists Group to Florida Southwestern State College (Edison College) to paint. I was there only once and didn't remember what the campus looked like. One thing I knew before going there was the fact that I would see quite a few modern office buildings there. It is my belief that no matter where you are, you can always find something that is worth painting. To me, beauty in representational art is simply a magic combination of art elements like shapes, lines, and dots, and/or harmonious unity of colors. That is why usually I don't go very far from home to paint en plein air. However, today I painted a few cars at the campus reserved parking lot. It was not that I could not find interesting views to paint. The problem was that I could not find a right spot where I could set up to paint.

At the parking lot, I was first attracted by the yellow jeep. Then I realized that there was a variety of different shapes in the view and I also see a rhythm in the combination. That is why I decided to paint the scene at the parking lot. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

En Plein Air: A Tree Standing by the Caloosahatchee (Acrylic 10 x 17)

I've found a beautiful place to paint. It is the Riverside Camp and Retreat Center. The address is 7305 County Rd 78, Ft. Denaud, FL 33935.  I was just exploring the north-bound N. River Rd. (CR 78) this morning and discovered the place. I simply sneaked in and drove all the way to the riverside. When I was done with the painting, I stopped by at their office. I tried to make arrangement for the Lee Plein Air Group.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

En Plein Air: An Abandoned Farm House in Alva (Acrylic 16 x 12)

The house was in a quiet area with fenced-in farms on both sides of the road. I happened to see this abandoned house with a rusty roof and boarded windows under what I believe was a huge mango tree. Whenever I saw an abandoned house, I could not but be mesmerized by a crazy urge to imagine what the house owner's life was like before the house was abandoned. Sometimes, I even made a story about it to satisfy myself.

Monday, August 7, 2017

En Plein Air: The Boat and the Storage Shack (Acrylic 12 x 16)

I drove almost an hour this morning looking for a scene to paint. Before I knew it, I found myself on Peace Road, Buckingham and was face to face with this homey view.

Friday, August 4, 2017

En Plein Air: The Interior of the Congregational Church (Acrylic 20 x 16)

The weather forecast said there was high humidity today, so I hesitated to paint outdoors. Finally, I decided to paint portraits indoors. I took it for granted that I was able to find models at the Congregational Church. However, to my surprise, when I got there, the parking lot was packed full. People got out from their vehicles large shopping carts. I was wondering why there were so many people.

When I got inside, I realized that I would not be able to find a model for my portrait painting because all the volunteers were busy passing out food. Half of the meeting room was piled with boxes of all kinds of food. Now I understood why there was such a crowd this morning. Unlike the food pantries previous weekend, today there was such a variety of food categories that I saw a small mountain of watermelons. No wonder people brought with them large shopping carts. Pastor Deb was very thoughtful. Since the line was too long for people to stand in the sun, she asked them to come inside and sat in the hall of the church waiting for their turns. Based on the situation, I decided to paint the interior of the church instead of portraits.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Alla Prima Portrait: Nicole (Acrylic 20 x 16)

It was VAC's Portrait Studio Day today. The model we had for the session was Nicole. I don't remember I painted her before, but the rest of the group said they did. Maybe I was not there when she sat for us before. Anyway, Nicole was a very professional model. She was all dressed in red with a beautiful headdress and a colorful boa, that made it more fun to paint. I am really tired of painting those who simply come and sit on the high chair as if they were coming to a photographer's studio to have an ID picture taken.

Interestingly, not to my acknowledgment,  Cathy took a picture of me painting her and sent it to me after the session. So I added the picture as follows:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

En Plein Air: A Draw Bridge over the Caloosahatchee River (Acrylic, 10 x 17)

Tropical Storm Emily had passed over this area. The air was kind of cooler. I went this morning to the Sweetwater Landing Boatyard. Highway 31 happened to run across the Bridge. I was painting from the parking lot a the boatyard.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Alla Prima Portrait: Jimmy (Acrylic 20 x 16)

This morning I went to the First Community Congregational Church to paint portraits again. Today's model was Jimmy. Jimmy was one of the Haitian Americans who came to the Congregational Church every Saturday to have their worship service instead of Sunday. It seemed to me that they were on their own and was not affiliated with the Congregational Church. Maybe the ethnic community simply rented the site. It was interesting to witness their special cultural traditions during the religious worship.

They have obviously preserved quite a bit of the traditional rituals. Everyone who came to the church was dressed up including children. I loved to see the ladies' dresses, especially their headdresses or simply a kerchief wrapped around the head -- very stylish. At first, a lady, who was evidently with the children's church, offered to pose for me. I was so happy that I told her I would pose the portrait in my blog and she could make a copy of it. Unfortunately, for some reason, she said she didn't want her portrait posted online, so she quitted sitting for me. At that time, Jimmy said he was willing to pose. He was a very patient model and a cool guy.

Friday, July 28, 2017

En Plein Air: House on Stakes (Acrylic 12 x 16)

The house is 18989 Parkinson Road, Alva, Florida. This morning, I got an impulse to explore this country road when I was driving on N. River Road (Highway 78). It was near the end of the road.

Since childhood, I have always been amazed by the idea of living in a house on stakes. The first time I saw houses on stakes and became interested in them was when I was a little boy and went to my hometown Hangzhou, China. Geographically, it was to the south of the Yangtze River and the countryside was like a network of waterways with rivers, lakes, and creeks all running into each other. The main tool of transportation for the farmers was always the boat. There were many small towns in the country and they were the places where farmers bought commercial products and sold whatever they produced in the country to get some cash money. What fascinated me in those small towns was the houses which were mostly built with one side on the dry land facing the street and the other side on stakes over the river. 

I thought at that time I justified to myself about this kind of architectures with practical reasons. The streets in those ancient towns were very narrow, not made for motor vehicles. Space was precious on the street, so it made sense for the houses to be built on stakes, especially when every family had a boat for transportation and they could have their boats sheltered under the house like Americans having a garage built for their cars. 

However, when I saw houses built on stakes in Florida, I couldn't quite understand the rationale behind it. There is no shortage of land here. Most people don't seem to use the space under the house as a garage but just to keep their junks. Maybe it is a more economical way to get extra space. Or is it for the purpose of keeping away the heat from the ground? I don't know. I'll do some research to get the answer. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Alla Prima Portrait: Antonio (Acrylic 20 x 16)

Portrait Studio Day! Today's model who sat for use at VAC is Antonio. He is a photographer. I believe Antonio has sat for us a few times. He is very paintable.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

En Plein Air: Florida's Preserved Land (Acrylic 10 x 17)

This is a very commonplace view in Florida. In fact, there are properties which are, especially around cities and towns, not yet developed state properties. The one in the painting is on Edward Road.

Monday, July 24, 2017

En Plein Air: The Frame House Next to the Country Diner (Acrylic, 10 x 17)

I didn't go far this morning. On my way to Highway 80, I happened to get into the Diner's parking lot. At first, I was interested in two motorbikes. By the time I had set up, the two bikers came out of the Diner and rode away. Then I noticed the frame house with an RV and a pickup, partially in the shade. So I decided to paint them together.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Alla Prima Portrait: Don (Acrylic, 20 x 16)

This morning I meant to paint something but rural scenes for a change. I went to the downtown flea market. Maybe it was too early; there were very few people there. After that, I went to the Veterans Memorial Park. Still, there was no much going on. Therefore, I decided to go to the Community Congregational Church. Since there was a food pantry today, I saw quite a few volunteers there. Finally, I decided to paint a gentleman named Don, who was working in the back room of the church giving away bread. When there was no one coming for bread, he sat on a pew by the window. He was very cooperative. I found the painting process was very smooth today. I didn't even bother to change the brushes. Simply rinsing in water, I continued working with the brush in different colors till the size of the brush was unable to accommodate the space I needed to cover.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Alla Prima Portrait: Airieana (Acrylic 20 x 16)

Today's model for our Portrait Studio was Airieana, a high school sophomore. I know you would say she looked like Lauren, the last week's model. It is true. I guess we have so many high school kids recently as our models because our Center is having some summer programs for school students.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

En Plein Air: July Clouds (Acrylic, 16 x 12)

It seems now the weather is typical Florida summer with the temperature hovering around 75͒--93͒. In spite of the humidity, there are always some sea breezes.  Regularly we have on the daily basis an afternoon shower or thunderstorm. I went this morning to the Sweetwater Landing Boatyard to paint the clouds.

Monday, July 17, 2017

En Plein Air Sketch: Two Donkeys by the Barn (Acrylic 12 x 16)

I turned right onto Herzog Rd. from Highway 80 this morning. As I drove a little farther, I noticed on my right a few donkeys were enjoying the shade by the barn. There was quite a distance from where I was and it was difficult to paint from the road. Fortunately, the road ended in about 200 yards and branched out into three different country drives in a fan shape. The one on the right happened to parallel the fence of the donkey farm and down the driveway, I could see a good spot from which I could paint the donkeys. I knew the drive was already part of someone's property. I tried to find its owner to get permission to be there, so I drove down the drive till I saw a bungalow house with some trucks parked outside. I knocked the door and even hollered, but no one answered the door. I realized there was nobody in there because through the side glass window I could see a sight of renovation with the ceiling fan spinning and all the windows cracked open, obviously in an attempt to ventilate the air. So I helped myself to the place. I parked my car on the road shoulder and began to set up. I knew animals would not stay in the same position for long, so I rushed through the painting. It took a little more than an hour.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Em Plein Air: Veterans Memorial Park, Downtown LeBelle (Acrylic 20 x 10)

The Veterans Memorial Park is located at the intersection of Main St. and Nickpockee Ave. downtown LeBelle, by the picturesque Court House which is the kind of architectural style people here usually call Spanish revival. I went there this morning mainly to paint the Court House but found it interesting to paint from this angle.

Friday, July 14, 2017

En Plein Air: Tractors Left in the Fields (Acrylic, 10 x 17)

I tried to explore some new scenic spots this morning, taking roads less traveled like Pine Ave. off Highway 80 in the hopes that it would lead me to somewhere on the Caloosahatchee River but in vain. At least, I ended up at the Maloy Hay Company fields. When I noticed some machinery left in the fields, I stopped the car and immediately set up to paint. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alla Prima Portrait: Lauren (Acrylic, 20 x 16)

Portrait Studio Day. Today's model is a young girl named Lauren, who is the daughter of Kim, one of the staff at Punta Gorda VAC.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Alla Prima Portrait: Linda and Toby (Acrylic 20 x 16)

This morning, shortly after I pulled out my car and hit the road, I noticed a warning on my dashboard saying "Low Tire Pressure." "Uh-oh," I said to myself. "It must be yesterday when I was at Owl Creek Boatyard and somehow I got a nail or something in the tire." So, I made a U-turn and drove directly to the Walmart. I waited there for more than an hour and it turned out to be just low tire pressure and no nails were found. It was late, so I decided to go to the First Community Congregational Church to see if I was able to find someone to paint. Luckily, they had the food pantry in the morning and quite a few volunteers were working there. After I asked around, Linda said she was willing to sit for me but her pet Toby should be included.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

En Plein Air: Time for maintenance (Acrylic, 12 x 16)

I went to the Owl Creek Boatyard this morning. A boat happened to be hanging there on the lifter. Without too much thinking, I settled to paint it.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

En Plein Air: The Hawkins' Residence (Acrylic 9 x 12)

I couldn't help but go to Taylor Road again this morning. Even though I could not see the outdoor staircase from that angle, I still like the composition with the house partially shaded by the colorful trees and a pond and a jetty in the foreground. Put all together, it was so quiet there. 

When I was about to finish the painting, a gentleman came. He first went to the house and obviously, he came to check out the Hawkins first. He must be one of the family's friends or neighbors. Then he stopped by where I was toiling. As he was approaching, I asked, "Am I trespassing?" "Yes, you are," he answered. "And you shouldn't be here." I apologized for my trespassing and introduced myself by giving him my card. Then he said, "I think you are a good person." However, having said these words, he precautiously took a picture of me with his cell and then left me alone.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

En Plein Air: Two Trees (Acrylic 10 x 17)

I drove westbound along N. River Road (Highway 78), this morning. After passing the Fichter Creek, I turned right into a country road in an attempt to find something paintable but in vain. When I was back on the roadside of the highway, preparing to get into the traffic, I notice on my left a car coming out of a street named Taylor Road. Suddenly I got an impulse to check it out in spite of the fact that there was a tag of No Outlet under the road sign. The road led me to a beautiful place on the Caloosathachee River. There were three houses: big, medium and small. The big house was kind of modern. The other two were wooden houses. I especially like the small one, very cozy and stylish with outdoor vase and staircase. There was on the railing a sign saying: The Hawkins Are at Play. There was a gravel road circle in front of it. I had never seen such a spacious lawn on the river bank. I saw a golf cart parked near a house. No wonder they took such good care fo the lawn.

I knew I was trespassing, so I stopped my car on the gravel drive circle. I walked over to the small house and holler to find the owner. After a while, I decided there was no one inside. Therefore, I helped myself to the property. I went to my car to get  out the painting kit and set up to paint.

Monday, July 3, 2017

En Plein Air: Terry's Drive (Acrylic 10 x 17)

I went to Terry's place this morning. It was very quiet. The corner of the fence stood out against the glaringly bright roof of his father's garage. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Alla Prima Portrait: Alisha (Acrylic 20 x 16)

Alisha is a 14-year-old middle-school student. She posed for our portrait studio today at Punta Gorda VAC.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Alla Prima Portrait: Sierra (Acrylic, 20 x 16)

In fact, I knew yesterday that it would be another scorcher today. With high humidity, the temperature would feel like more than 100 degrees. When I was painting Donna at the church yesterday, a pretty girl from Indiana named Sierra expressed interest in sitting for me to paint. Since I knew I would not be going outdoors to paint. I agreed to paint her today. We decided to meet at the church again at 9 AM in the side hall. I really like the room because it has tall windows on one side, almost as perfect as an ideal studio. The sketch took about 2 hours including breaks.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Alla Prima Portrait: Donna (Acrylic, 18 x 10)

It is hot and humid today. After I looked at the temperature, I hesitated to go out to paint en plein air. Therefore, at 9 PM, I called the pastor of the First Community Congregational Church to see whether I could find someone to paint indoors. The pastor's response was Yes and there were quite a few volunteers working there. Therefore, I loaded the kit in the car and hit the road. 

When I got there it seemed everyone was busy. I saw Donna, one of the volunteers, sitting aside in the hall. I noticed she had a bandage wrapped around the ankle of her right foot I didn't paint it). Obviously, she was injured. There were three grandchildren with her. I went over and offered to paint her. Sher hesitated a bit and agreed.

Monday, June 26, 2017

En Plein Air: Cooling off in the Shade (Acylic 12 x 16)

This view is at a farm across from the Community Center of the Olga Park, a rustic area off Highway 80 (Palm Beach Blvd.).

Friday, June 23, 2017

Alla Prima Figure: Keith Water-coloring at the Wild Turkey Stran Preserve (Acrylic 16 x 12)

I went out to paint this morning at the Wild Turkey Strand Preserve with the Lee Plein Air Group. I knew the place pretty well, so before I left home, I had already decided to do some figure painting in the sun. Keith was a water-color artist. Shortly after I started, Keith left the spot, saying he needed to go to the shaded area. Fortunately, by then I had got his image outline on my canvas. Toward noon when he saw my painting, Keith said with a smile, "You should have taken off at least 40 pounds." 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Alla Prima Portrait: Trish (Acrylic 16 x 12)

It is Punta Gorda Portrait Studio Day. Today's model was Trish. Someone said she posed for us before, but I didn't remember. I was pretty impressed by her hairdo. It very asymmetrical with one side hair as short as a boy and the other side cascading down over the ear like a waterfall. Maybe it was trendy these days. I don't know. Anyway, people in this country love changes. From time to time, we all want something new.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

En Plein Air: Tom's RV (Acrylic 12 x 16)

Tom is my friend who owns a vegetable farm. He let his RV sit on the farm near its gate all year round. Power and water were hooked up to it. Moreover, a window air conditioner was fixed to the back window and a hot-water furnace was standing by its side, so relatively speaking, it was a kind of permanent residence. Judging by these facilities, it should be pretty comfortable living inside the RV. Maybe because of the limited space in the vehicle, Tom had annexed a tent to it. I had seen some Latino seasonal farm workers living in the RV before but didn't see them for quite some time. Guess they had moved on and tried to find work somewhere else.

Monday, June 19, 2017

En Plein Air: Shawn's Fishing Boat (Acrylic 12 x 16)

I didn't finish the painting last week because of the shower. When I got home, I put a layer of blue paint over the unfinished work and used up the canvas. Therefore, today I started all over again. 

Behind the boat is Shawn's parents' old house. With moss gathered on the rooftop and decayed siding, it must be more than a century old. Actually, I don't think anyone lives in the house anymore. They simply keep it for storage use, I guess.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Replica of Picasso's Francoise Gilot (Ceramic Carving)

The Visual Arts Center at Punta Gorda annually organizes an art festival. Usually, a famous artist in history will be selected to be the theme. We members will make replicas of various masterpieces by the artist, in all sizes. They will be put for sale. This way, the Center will raise money to keep itself running. Ordinarily, I will donate a painting which I made by copying one of the artist's works. This year Pablo Picasso has been selected. I found it kind of silly to copy Picasso, so I got a ceramic plate to do a carving based on the drawing of Francoise Gilot by Picasso. She is also the mother of two of his children.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

En Plein Air: Father's Day at the Cemetery (Acrylic 12 x 16)

I was driving on N. River Road (Highway 78) this morning. When I passed the Cemetery Road, from the corner of my eye, I noticed the road had recently been mowed and cleaned. It was a country road in between orange groves. It got its name because the road ended at a cemetery. I had painted there before. Suddenly I realized it was the Father's Day weekend. Suddenly I was curious about it, so I made a U-turn and got there. I stopped my car by a huge oak tree and set up to paint.