Thursday, December 30, 2010

in search of artful expressions: art and my iPad~ michellechoongkhoo

in search of artful expressions: art and my iPad~ michellechoongkhoo

art and my iPad~ michellechoongkhoo

i think it is so cool to have so many gadgets available to help our creativity along…..

This morning, I wanted to continue with my experimentation of the portable watercolor sketch box ……
It was pouring dogs and cats~ how appropriate to sketch my Tobie ;)
And with the aid of my iPad and caffeine induced energy….i set up the stuff on the coffee table and got to work~
Wooooo, its such a breeze~ sketch, paint , photograph, upload and blog all within 15 mins…..
Wow Very very handy indeed…..I'm loving it ♬

wooooh I think pretty soon I may become addicted to doing this quickie sketching stuff , hahahaha

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

sketch~boy @ Gurney Drive Penang~michellechoongkhoo

it feels good to hv the creative juices flowing~

testing pocket field sketch box~ michellechoongkhoo

I bought this portable watercolor set w reusable waterbrush a few months back….
After a self imposed hiatus of inactivity, today I just decided to test it out !

aaaaah, pretty satisfying…..easy to manipulate the waterbrush and watercolor palette.
okay, am going to bring this along with me whenever I travel from now on…..

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

in rememberance of Roxy~

Am taking a short hiatus from painting …..
Am grieving the death of my darling GSD, 9yrs old Roxy…
may she rest in peace, may she find MAX in dog heaven ~

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oil Lesson 5: Using a Painting knife

I thought it might be a tad boring but it wasnt , not the least bit~
As a matter of fact I did enjoy the lesson thoroughly today….it reminded me of doing the sugar icing for cakes ;)

And well, I am no baker….in fact I suck big time at anything to do with cooking so it was daunting to try to use the painting knives at first.

Definitely the first stroke was the toughest.
Ms Shia showed me how to practise on my palette, after which yea, I did loosen up and soon was gleefully plying the paints liberally.
As usual, one starts with the darkest shades and Ms Shia said it was important to paint the eyes so as to get a firm anchor for the other locations…she was as usual right, of course! As soon as the eyes and nose, ears were in place, the rest came easy enough.
Luckily I had bought so many different types of painting knives….
Applying the paint thickly requires a large or medium trowel shaped knife; to get the illusion of fur, I found it best to use the small paddle shaped knife and for the outline of eyes, I prefer to use a small diamond shape knife but here I must admit that alas for Tobie's beautiful pupil, I had to cheat by using a brush !

At first my Tobie looked like a street cat until Ms Shia told me to fatten her up by making the head rounder and the eyes much much bigger. Wow, it works.
The magic touch was the whiskers….it pays to ensure that the paint beneath the whiskers are of darker shade and also not flowing in the same direction as the whiskers…such simple adjustments and I have my beautiful Tobie looking right back at me from my round canvas….

Mmmm, cant wait to finish the other two canvasses of Roxy and Tiger when I come back from diving the Maldives ~


Some of you may have been wondering whether water mixable oils are of any good….Well, for this painting I prepared the background 3 days ago with a combo of sap green and viridian hue from Reeves water mixable oil colors (box set of 12 tubes x 1.2ml for only RM $22.50 , just about USD7….what a bargain).
I know that I will use it often for backgrounds because it has proven to be very economical as well as efficient , looks good and dries super fast…

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oil Lesson 4: painting on "imprimatura"

Technique : Painting landscape on a green background

Step 1: the colored ground was prepared a week earlier with all the left over paints from previous lesson, thinned with turpentine and left to dry thoroughly

Step 2: since the background is now dark, I had to use white crayon to help me draw the outline of the landscape instead of my usual pastel pencils.

Step 3: As my chosen landscape was a golf course with a mountaineous background of which parts are reflected onto the lake, Ms Shia told me to block in the colors according to light and dark areas for the landed portions.
Likewise I was to repeat the same for those reflections on the water.

Step 4: Creating the water effects was simple enough~
a) by stroking the paints with a clean brush vertically , resulted in a smeared blend of vertical lines that mmmm, do give an essence of reflections!
b) Then at some areas near the lake's edge, we stroked in some horizontal lines to represent the water ripples.
Landscapes are never my cup of tea but I guess its nice to know how to do it ~
Pretty cool ~ oh yea.

I think painting on imprimaturas is interesting as well as economical to speed up the painting process . But I think it is critical to choose the choice of the colored grounds well before painting because when I look at some classmates' completed works which were done on a reddish ground, the feeling was a very old masters, matt dull finish.
I guess this is where our understanding of color wheel, opaque versus transparent colors comes in…. of which I am still unclear, so for now I prefer to do sons portraits on white ground!

today, our imprimatura was opaque because the colors were mixed with titanium white.
Next week I may attempt a portrait of my beloved Tiger or Tobie on colored ground with either
a) using thin acrylic gold wash
b) thin watercolor stain

Monday, July 12, 2010

oil portraiture of sons, part one~Jon

not quite there yet but at least I think I'm getting the hang of the blending monochromatic underpainting.

As I compare the photo reference, I know that I totally misjudged the angle of Jon's tilt and I dont know how to paint the teeth yet~ but Im gonna proceed to complete Julian's and Justin's head shots and the background and then come back to perform the dentistry for Jon….hahahah

Life is great, Life is a gift
and I give thanks for life's gift of the joy that my sons bring~

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Oil lesson 3: Mona Liza~ monochromatic opaque underpainting

Last Saturday I felt like I was getting to know Mona Liza really upclose and personal~
I scrutinized every inch of her face until even now I can even visualize her in my mind….and due to the close scutiny, to both Ms Shia and my surprise we both discovered that she actually was wearing a gauze veil on her head…mmmm Interesting indeed!

Technique : Painting Mona Liza using monochromatic opaque underpainting on white ground

The lesson was to concentrate on the form and tonal value of the face using one color i.e vandyke brown and mixing with white to get the mid range tones.

Step 1 : mix the vandyke brown with white to get some half tones and apply these to the areas where there are shadows following the contours of the face, paying
careful attention to the eye sockets, cheeks, nose , lips and brow areas.

Step 2 : fill out the left overs with pure white, NO blending….just block in the colors.
To make sure that I followed this rigidly, Ms Shia hovered over me like a mother hen :)

Well, first draft of my Mona looked like she was of Asian origin, very voluptuous and looking very post natal ! Hahaha

OMG I cannot imagine how we were gonna achieve any similiarity to Mona Liza's face with all the blotchy spots all over!!

Step 3: Ms Shia told me to watch the magic as she used a medium fan brush and lightly fan Mona Liza's face ~ incredibly the colors blended so naturally, wow it was indeed magical!

Step 4 : Ms Shia then handed the fan brush and told me to finish the job…and horrors I actually made Mona Liza's face full of scratches !
Ms Shia goes "AIYA, cannot simply chincai bongcai sapu her face any direction you like !!"
Hahaha, the key was to imagine stroking Mona's face as if I was applying powder or blusher….

Oh ok, hahaha.

Believe you me, that made a heck of a big difference indeed.

Also with the right stroke of the fan brush, apparently we could make Mona Liza appear fatter or leaner just be slightly altering how the cheek bones flow or by adjusting the strokes above her bosom….ooooh, interesting!

I cant wait to see how we will glaze and restore Mona to full color spectrum after I finish off painting all the tonal values on her clothes and the background and let the paints dry .

Stay tuned for future lessons update to see how my Mona turns out in early August because before we can glaze, all the layers of underpaint have to be thoroughly dried!


Since I still had so much more paint left over, I decided to just for the heck of it also practise on a more contemporary beauty….a Dior model in Her World magazine ;P

Thursday, July 1, 2010

oil lesson 2- still life, direct painting/alla prima

technique: softening contours using high key colours of bright primaries red/yellow/blue in one session, mixing colors on the brush

step 1
I first position the apples whereby the best shades of reds/contours of light and dark are well reflected

step 2
then as in first lesson squeeze the yellow , red and white paints out generously with the blue very sparingly and place them onto different portions of the palette, taking care not to mix

step 3
today, we were to try painting the bright colors of the apples directly onto the canvas without blending on the palette,
wow, by painting the yellows reds loosely mixed on the brush , they do seem to work both separately and together in the stroke to make the color more alive

step 4
We had to step back now and then to view from a distance whether the strokes mimic the contours of the apples. At first I didnt appreciate painting in curvy strokes but after awhile, yea I do agree that this way, using different tonal values, from a distance the apple can appear 3 dimensional

As in lesson one, we use white paint to represent the light reflections.
I have since learnt that white should be applied in one stroke and then blend keeping care to wipe the brush clean after each and every stroke. This way, then the color is not muddied.
Alternatively, I made sure that a particular area that has light reflection is totally left unpainted with any other color except zinc white and then while the paint is still white I try to blend the white towards the color and not the other way round ….

step 5
to get a uniform grey color to use as shadows, mix red/yellow/blue together on palette until blended , then the shades can be dark to lighter by varying the thickness of the stroke or by adding more white to get paler grey

step 6
lastly for the background, we could apply white color generously direct from the tube onto the canvas and blend with clean dry brush to finish the entire background

step 7
I cant wait to see how the glaze will be done after 4th lessons~


Hee hee, I am quite happy with my outcome of the apples even though hubby, my #1 fan laughed and pronounced that my apples look more like red capsicums…hahaha.

well, I just told hubby what Ms Shia taught me … helps to step further back and view the painting from a distance.
I also "cheated" and told hubby that he had to view my apples with one eye closed.
After that he said Yea yea yea and nodded more enthusiastically!
He agreed that at a distance and with only one good eye vs 2 good eyes….my red apples do look more like apples. Kakakaka!

Hope you have as much fun viewing too.
Any suggestions, feel free to text me please~ don't worry I am a big girl and can handle any comments :)))))

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oil Lesson 1~ basics on white ground, monochromatic

this is totally foreign territory to me….
* 6 basic tubes of oil colors
* 2 palette knife
* wooden untreated palette
* bottle of turpentine
* bottle of paint medium

I have never touch oil painting so I dont even know what all the simple tools are for ~ -- dont even know how to mix the paint with the palette knife
- dont know how to wield the brushes to block, blend
- dont know what the paint medium is for
- dont know why turpentine is needed
- and after I learnt that one use of turpentine was to clean the brushes, hahaha, I even had to ask Ms Shia to show me how it is done…hahaha, hilarious morning indeed!

Technique : Painting on white ground, monochromatic

Step 1. - we had to first prepare the palette with a layer of medium so that it wouldnt absorb the oil from the paints

Step 2. - our subject matter was the ceramic vase which we were told to sketch onto the canvas with graphite or color pencils , carefully capturing all the different shapes of light and shadow in every detail including reflections

Step 3. today we are supposed to only paint in vandyke brown using zinc white to mix the shades, so we were told to squeeze the 2 colors onto the palette taking care to keep them separate …. this was for a simple reason that at the end of the day , any unused pure colors could be scooped back into the tube again! aaaah, common sense logic. :P

Step 4. first we painted a 5 value scale to be our guide for the respective shadings of the vase, the original blue color being the middle shade

Step 5. I find that I had to paint the different areas using small tiny strokes, making sure to poke the paint into every inch of the linen groove… my, very time consuming indeed. Here there is none of the let yr feelings go wild moments like in watercolor.... Every stroke is calculative and with a purpose….mmmm.

Step 6. I also find it tedious to wait for each shade to dry before blending but it was important , otherwise as I found out the hard way…yucks, be prepared for all the white to end up turning muddy!

P/S: wow, oil painting needs load of patience, even more so than water coloring

Step 7 - am told the final layer was glazing which can only be done after the paints have dried thoroughly, I shld find out how its done in the 2nd lesson….whoopee , cant wait for tomorrow! correction, glazing will only be learnt after the 4th lesson so that all of the 4 pieces can be done at one go? mmmmm

Here in the shots of my uber cool classmates : Jess and Andrea , take note they have got newspapers carefully lined under their canvas…..

Well, that didnt help me much!
I managed to get all shades of vandyke browns and whites everywhere over both my arms, it was a miracle I didnt end up smudging paints all over my face ^_^.

I'm gonna have to wear my apron next lessons~ hahaha

Whats my overall first impressions so far?

Very very interesting , alot to learn, shld be fun….Im just wondering how awfully long its gonna take me to fly???

Monday, June 28, 2010

My 2nd triptych~

My first triptych~

3rd panel - Julian at Khoo Kongsi

It was a great Sunday~
nice weather & a super great aromatherapy massage puts me in the mood for rest and relax .
As the lovely hands of the excellent masseause worked her magic on my muscles, I gave silent thanks for many little blessings and I have much to be grateful for in this blessed life.

The luxury of time to devote to painting is one such blessing.

4 months into starting art lessons I have come to realize that portrait painting is much more than just copying religiously every aspect of a photo.

Art is very much about using adhoc modifications:
-Here I used an image of Khoo Kongsi's lionhead from one very old photo taken in 1994 .
-I superimposed an image of Julian from a family group shot that we snapped in front of Sydney's Opera House in 2000.
-The CNY lanterns was added last minute from imaginations because I realize that my original composition looked so drab and moody!
The bright red globes added just the right splashes ~
-I also felt that the lionhead was different from the buddha statues because it had so much tiny details that the charcoals and oil pastels couldnt bring it to life until I added the silver/black acrylic dabs…..

I think I manage to make the whole painting work~ at any rate, I like it alot.
I finished painting Julian just slightly after 10pm~ 5 hours of work!!
I hope he will like it too…..

11.5" x 22.25" on 300 gms cold press
Title : Julian and the lionhead
© michellechoong_khoo

to see all the panels together, 2nd triptych link

Saturday, June 26, 2010

2nd panel of A2 triptych~Justin

15.5" x 22.25" on 300 gms cold press paper
Title: Justin with a KRABI flavor
© michellechoong_khoo

feeling adventurous to try watercolor with even more mixed medium>>>

1. using charcoal with oil pastels for the Thai Buddha
2. painting Justin with very light washes and strokes
3. trying out a dash of gold acrylic to make the embellishments on umbrellas /cushions stand out…..

mmmmm, I do love experimenting…..makes the art journey less boring!

one interesting question a classmate posed to me…..

Q: Why do you keep painting your sons?
A: why not? smile~
after all this is my personal art journey and if I am going to learn how to paint good portraits, why not take all the tons of photos that I already own for references ?

Plus on top of getting the painting techniques/the perspectives and the composition right I do happen to like the extra challenge of knowing that I have to at least get a good likeness for my sons/hubby to pass my paintings….

Thanks for all the encouragement.
Have a great weekend ahead~

to see all 3 panels together, link 2nd triptych

Friday, June 25, 2010

1st panel of 2nd triptych~ mixed medium

15.5" x 22.25" on 300gms cold press
Title : Jon at art gallery
© michellechoong_khoo

2nd triptych idea was to work on photos of sons aged around 10….
1st panel -Jon with a backdrop of Buddha at Penang's Butterfly farm art gallery
2nd panel - Julian with a backdrop of Khoo Kongsi's lionhead
3rd panel - Justin with a Thai Buddha at Krabi resort

And this time, I wanted to experiment with mixed medium….using oil pastels/charcoal which I thought gave me better shades for the stone statutes' shadings and also to try something new :)

Attempting bigger pieces meant buying bigger easels…..

These 2 easels are a dream to work on:
- one easel with adjustable slant angles is more conducive for watery washes
- the other with adjustable height is more comfortable for detail work and longer seated hours….
to see all 3 panels together, link 2nd triptych

Saturday, June 19, 2010

trying to get the essence of painting underwater shots

Taking the first steps towards painting underwater shots…..

The photo of my waterbabies frolicking at grandma's condo pool with many reflections on the skin, pool floor and upper mirage too ~

I had to apply frisket because I was not confident of leaving the white areas intact~

Today I also decided to test painting vibrant colors, almost direct from the tube with very little dilution.

11.5" x 15.5" on 200 gms cold press
Title : waterbabies
© michellechoong_khoo

Eddie said that my painting did not feel like it was underwater, not enough reflections…I agree!
And I need to size down the subject so that the body of water was bigger….
Either that or I need to work on bigger paper size of A2.
But I think I captured the essence of the fun that my waterbabies were having at their moments posing for my first Sony PS10 with underwater housing~

However I felt that in applying the paints too strong, the result was a loss of the translucent feel of watercolors….mmmm, needs to be reworked~

Comments or suggestions on how I should rework this? :)

Analysing my above art piece , I suddenly got the urge to experiment and see how the translucency of watercolor will turn out of portraits done onto a background of charcoal or oil pastels~
And I have just the right photos to exactly do my next triptych of mixed medium!

Jon with a statue of Buddha at an art gallery
Julian with a lionhead at Khoo Kongsi
Justin with a background of the soldiers at the KL monument

So excited ~

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lesson 15: treescape and jungle canopy

Not my favourite project but it was an eye opener when I saw how Ms Shia interpretes her trees using unusual colors of blues/yellows/reds and the shades in between.
Wow, because I didnt know trees can be painted with such dreamy colors~

It was fun to realize that watercolors do not need to be realistic, we can paint illogical colors so long as we maintain a fluid "feel" , get the branches and shadows done well.

I rather liked how my treescape turned out ….

BUT I definitely dont like the outcome of my jungle canopy too much…it was a mess of dullness!
It started well until I muddied the colors up, forgetting to stay within complementary colors and painting transparent colors instead of opaque….

I might in future want to attempt more interpretations of bleak, possibly focus dramatically on a sea of tree trunks in a monochromatic color …..

This too marks the end of my posting on watercolor tuition ....

I will from now on do self experiment using as references the books ordered online from boy oh boy….I am so excited that all my 5 books have arrived!

I sure am going to enjoy thumbing through :

1. Nita Engle : How to Make a Watercolor Paint Itself, Experimental Techniques for Achieving Realistic Effects

2. Birgit O connor : Watercolor in Motion : How to Creat Powerful Paintings, Step By Step with DVD

3. Linda Kemp: Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines, Positive Approach to Negative Painting

my first landscape….

what a lovely way to spend a languid Friday morning….

painting and chatting with my 3rd sister at my "art space" , catching up and sharing family news…..the time flew by so swiftly that to my surprise I actually finished my first free hand landscape within one hour!

My sister said it was a mystical outcome….
Me, loved doing landscape….for once~

15.5" x 11.5" on 200 gms cold press
Titled: Flooded field
© michellechoong_khoo

Monday, June 14, 2010

final panel of sons' triptych portraiture ~ JUSTIN

when the mood to paint stirs, when an idea germinates….time stood still.
So it was for me this morning~

I woke up with this idea itching to paint Justin with a basketball or football….. since the previous panels were done of his bros; Julian holding a fish frisbee and Jon holding a sunglass , I too wanted Justin to hold something that identifies his persona~

I went up to his room to get some inspirations.
I saw all his book shelves filled to the brim with magazines , comics, albums, books…..hey hey hey….a Harry Porter hardback!

That's it, excitedly still clad in my pyjamas mind you….I set to work ~

the first draft was swiftly outlined~

It was with enthusiasm , playfulness and I find it engaging to add the private items, this time a book, the details on the carpet as well as the suggestion of a wall papery background…..
I loved the notion that each sons' panels were all done with different background textures and each carrying a unique personal item that characterize their identification~

Justin's portrait was done in one sitting of 3hours….

Either I am improving on my time management or in Eddie's words, getting better and better with more practise? Hahahaha>

Well, I do love the finish ….do let me have yr feedbacks, tell me what you think of it~

11.5" x 15.5" on 200 gms cold press
Title: Justin, 4 years old MR LIBRARIAN
© michellechoong_khoo

My next triptych will be of my boys, aged 10 in different poses in twos and threes on larger formats…..I also want to try some 3 dimensional experiments ~

oooooh, time to go shopping for large easels, larger drawing blocks and larger mounting boards….but I will take it slowly~
Erm, time to put in longer hours in the office to earn my salary….hee hee, Director of Operations already grumbling!

to see all 3 panels together, link 1st triptych