Friday, May 28, 2010

lesson 12~ attempting close up shots of Flowers

Today was an exercise to do close ups of flowers and we were told to bring photos of our subjects for referencing~

When Andrea told me the night before that she will be bringing 3 prepared sketches of lotus (hahaha, she chose some of my EOS debut shots of the lotus blooms around my house…which I had also thought was a good option because of the detailed light and dark shadings)….I said I will bring my camera to snap Ms Shia's facial reactions to Andrea's super efficiency!!

This morning, true enough Ms Shia's look was worthy to be featured onto "candid camera" la but alas I forgot to pack my camera….tsk tsk ;(

Anyhow, seeing how we are so well prepared…we plunged into our work very quickly…
It was an exercise of super wet glazing and we had to be rather quick to make dabs of contrast on alternate petals while the paper was still damp….
aaaargh definitely ~ given the 2 hours we were there….it was not easy to paint a rose!

I came home very dissatisfied with my rose attempt~

And today being Vesak Day and a public holiday, I decided to give it another go since Andrea was so kind to give me a piece of her pre-traced lotus outline for practise , bless her …our Ms Super Efficient Ms Boult ;)))

Aiya, I dont think I will likely pursue flora and fauna ….. not my forte and certainly not my passion.
But it's an exercise to train one's eye to look closely for the light vs dark spots so as to create a map when painting watercolors~

I am happier with my background but I think I overcooked my lotus colors….err, not a work that I will hang on my walls!
Yup, have to work on more flowers again soon~

Fascination eyes ~

The Delsey ad with its model in dramatic black against a bold red background inspired me to try this composition:

a huge ad in lightedbox with admirers looking on~

The concept was for the model to be in black and white and his eyes to be the focal point ~ preferably in amber like those of a leopard's!

The initial was nice but wasnt arrestingly bold….so I added more burnt sienna with a tad of lemon yellow but it clashed with the model's skin tone~
In the end, I had to wash off the eyebrows and tone down the brown shades to stay more true to shades of payne's grey.

And I find that it helps to emphasize the iris by drawing lines with 4H or F graphites…likewise for the eyebrows!

My model's face was finally done after 4 days of tweaking and re-tweaking…..which as my art teacher Ms Shia notes is my main problem, I tend to over cook my watercolors…..

But actually I'm happy with the effect of my main subject being very very dramatic for this piece! I dont think I would do it any differently if I have to do it again.

In fact, I want to make the back drop even more dynamic bold but I will take Ms Shia's advise to let my foreground audience be very muted by attempting faint vague outlines. ;D

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The story behind my portrait of the girl by the candlelight~michellechoongkhoo

It all started with this video by Jean Pederson on how she add layers n using dry brush technique to "lift " paint off to demonstrate the most dramatic eyes in watercolor I hv ever ever seen.

WOW….WOW…WOW isnt it?

And so the quest started for me to find a suitable image that I can practise on….
I found this photo of a very mesmerizing girl in red with the play of light from the candle~

I only realized how much I adore doing portraiture after completing the above painting.

I also discovered , much to my surprise that I do have the patiance after all, to continually work on one single piece of art, examining each layer's work, poring over the nitty gritty details again and again and yet again!
I almost didnt want to stop rendering and editing, re-editing.

The whole process took 4 days, in between waiting for it to dry, adding, taking away shades, rubbing out, fine tuning the eyes , the skin tones, the hair….I could not believe that the tedious process did not even deter me, on the contrary it inspired me.
I even found it artistically challenging~ spurs me to push myself…hahaha

I also found that it is so true that in watercoloring, one only needs the 3 primary colors to create subtle shades of almost any other possibilities of colors.

And I am beginning to realize that I do have favourite colors after all….permanent rose, cadmium yellow, raw umber, teal and cobalt blue are a must have staple colors in my palette now.

Today, an ex-colleague asked why there is any need to do research online when I am already attending art tuition ….

Aaaah, my dear Teresa…
because there is such a vast world of art genres out there to learn from...
because there so many techniques available to experiment with once we found out about them ….
because there is unlimited unimaginable new stuff that varous other artists have done and are generously sharing online...
because I am in search of artful expressions…in a hurry to reconnect with my inner artistic soul…and I cant sit still twiddling my thumbs what to paint only once a week…

plus because it is so much fun and I experience eye opening joy to stumble across new refreshing perceptions, new refreshing ideas~~~~~~~>>>

Lastly because I wouldnt have discovered that I could do portraiture if I had not chanced upon Jean Pederson's video and admire Harold Edward Brooks art pieces~
so with a wide smile, dear dear Teresa….I browse alot online for art inspirations all the time ;D

Life is simple, Life is Good
its a wonderful world

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lesson 11~ finding one's signature art style

The morning started with Ms Shia sharing with us a Taiwanese art book featuring different styles drawn by western and chinese artists .

We of course ooohed and aaahed but when told that this week's exercise is to get us to draw a complete painting based on any styles we like from the book because Ms Shia wanted to gauge our styles in order to better tailor future weeks' classes….we were initially stumped, I mean…how could I draw anywhere near those masterpieces?

I know I sat there looking at my paper and brushes without a clue where to go for inspiration~

As always the first step is always the hardest.

Andrea was the quickest with her brushes splashing bold colors rapidly….I think she is very deft with graphics. But her boldness actually helped the whole group to also get out of our inertia ;)

Soon Chris started on the trees outside the windows….I think she is very into floral and fauna.
Jess worked on her beloved landscape, I think she also likes fauna and flora ;)

I prefer realism ….

I like to start my washes very wet on both sides and to work horizontally , first using very light colors , and then to gradually build up the colors.

But this morning, I seem to have a blockage….I did not know what else to do after completing my rather bland looking background of beach, sea and setting sun.

Ms Shia gently teased that she was waiting for my painting to tell a story and said she was wondering whether I will be painting mermaids .

I was struck by her comment that sometimes putting an unexpected element least associated with the background can make a painting become more exciting.

Over the weekend, that got me cracking my mind.

I had failed to draw Max in graphite some weeks ago and he is forever on the top of my list of must must draw !

So I decided to attempt a bold larger than life image of Max standing infront on the beach .
A quick outline already made me see that Max presence definitely makes my bland beach painting above immediately more interesting .
It was more original than my half hearted intention to add a small silhouette of man walking his dog or fisherman mending his nets….
Ahhhh, I'm beginning to get the hang of better understanding what it means by composition , I think….the core is to draw something that evokes passion and can make us labor with LOVE~.

I didnt like this mug shot which showed Max with more white hair , I want to paint Max in his golden prime days as a handsome stud.

But painting Max's fur turns out to be an exercise larger than what I bargained for and
I almost gave up several times….

Luckily the wet washes meant I had to get up and walk away to let one layer dry before I could continue blending and further rendering.

That helps me to focus…..because 4 hours into working on Max chest….I'm still not done yet…..and I definitely do not want to give up yet again.
I'm gonna put the painting away and get back to it after a couple of days~

Over the weekend, I somehow found inspiration to finish Max's complex layering of fur, referencing many old photos to get the best golden shades that I wanted to portray. In the end, I copied Max mate, Roxy's beautiful furs instead.

I think I manage to do some justice to Max…do you agree that he looks like a proud German Shepherd of royal heritage here?

Hahaha, oh well…in my mind this is how I like to remember him anyway.

Max left us to grieve for him one year ago, he is today still dearly missed and remembered fondly. I am thankful to have enjoyed his transient companionship, love and loyalty for 11 blessed years 1998-2009.

This is my first watercolor painting that I even want to mount , frame and put up in the house.

To Max , with love always.

Friday, May 14, 2010

my garden of Eden~

200 gsm A4 cold press paper
Title: my garden of Eden

~ choice of paper , do matter in watercoloring ~

In the mood for painting and in a hurry to create, I grabbed whatever paper on hand and tried some watercolor glazing for 2 sunset sceneries as captured from outside Jon's bedroom window ~

Full of optimism, I even contemplated doing 2 pieces of art simultaneously because I thought it shld be no big deal since they were of similar compositions !
Aaaah, the confidence and folly of a novice's naivety~

once I applied the first glaze~oops, the paper almost immediately started to buckle with uneven patches of wetness….checking the grammage to be only 160gsm….
I knew something was wrong~

Nevertheless I decided to continue with the art attempts ~

No prizes to guess that IT turned out to be a huge mistake ….. disastrous aaargh….
2 hours of hard work gone down the gutters, not to mention 2 pieces of work ruined all in one go +_+

1. this painting below almost gave me a hole for a sun when removing the masking tape

2. this painting below which is what I liked more out of the two attempted alas tore when removing it from the mounting board for photography

yes, pursuing water color art is a long journey of learning in progress….
choice of paper do matter alot….my Eureka moment!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lesson 10: techniques of creating textures

Ms Shia opened up her tin of "junk"….old toothbrush, scraps of old carton, plastic, rag, sponge, iron nail, wire netting, candle, glue, white crayon…
She also couldnt resist commenting that all these tools for creating watercolor texture…. there is no need for us to go shopping today!! Hahaha
We…her students with the exception of today have been going to the art shop for straight 8 weeks to buy art supplies~
I for one notice that my bag is getting bulkier when coming to classes…hahaha!

Tho truth be told, it was part necessity but mostly it was for social networking and for us to get to know each other better ~ LOLs

Well, as the morning progresses and Ms Shia proceeded to show us various techniques …it was reminiscent of my sons' kindergarden days….remember the days of cutting shapes from fruits or vegetables like potatoes, carrots , ladies fingers to make stencil prints?

Of course, Ms Shia's techniques were more edgy , less messy but just as fun~ some examples which I reproduced below:

textures made by painting 3 layers, each time covering some parts with scraps of newspaper

textures made by scrapping with the back of the brush or pointed object e.g nail tip while the paint was still wet

effect of dabbing paints using old toothbrush

effect of flicking spots of paint from the brush using fingernail

creating a mass by twirling dry paint from chinese brush on wet wash

drawing fine lines using dry paint from flattened chinese brush

using plastic card to draw the window frame lines and wax candles for effecting window slats

last but not least , this is my favourite….poking paint (various wetness to get various effects) thru the sieve of wire netting

After all the experimenting, we had to use the techniques learnt today to create a realistic composition….
I took the easy way out by painting the scenery from the classroom window

★the rooftop was done using corrugated carton
★ the window frame using plastic card edge
★ the clouds using dry chinese brush and sprayed with water
★ the trees were painted using candle waxing and back of brush to scrap the lines…..

OMG today we really had to get in deep and dirty into our art…
As yet I still could not brush out the paint pigments from my index fingernail yet!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

for the love of the rose…

I was looking thru my own favourite photo stock of roses……with the intention of trying to paint it in watercolor.

While researching on how to properly prepare glazing for watercolors, I found Susie Short's article to be the best and
easily understood by a novice like myself…..because she made it look so simple….

Then I thought that maybe video tutorials might better reinforced the glazing principles but oh lord, the couple of demos
available just took forever to load so I was diverted to search instead for roses and wow, I was blown away by these 2
were fantabulous demos …

This one shows how the rose was beautifully painted digitally~ awsome, talented, refreshing indeed

This one shows the effect of painting roses wet on wet on Rice paper….mmm, so delicately artistically drawn, mesmerizing to me~

Thank Goodness for the cyber technology these days…..of course we still need to buy books from the bookshops but we
dont need to buy so many these days!!

* Nobody cares if you can't dance well.
Just get up and dance.*

Friday, May 7, 2010

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour

I threw away one hour's work of drawing Max in disgust….OMG, it was impossible to draw so much fur~

Poor Max after my rendition looked more like a monkey than a proud gladiator-like German Shepherd from pure breed stock of distinction~ aaaargh.

And as I listened to Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Address over and over again while drawing….btw I really love his motivational messages to the new graduates even though the message was more than 5 yrs old…fast forward to 2010, in its entirety the address was still relevant and truly inspirational !

And what I hear , I also see connection to my dismal failure of attempting to draw Max:
"Dont lose faith…."
Yes, I shall keep looking….

For now, I will surrender but I will keep trying some time soon….

For now, I will hv to be satisfied that the best I can sketch my beloved GSDs is this illustration of my darling Roxy ♥♥♥

sketch on natural charcoal
title: beloved ROXY

and then I received this in my email

* Accept that some days you're the pigeon,
And some days you're the statue.


*A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour*.

Happy Mother's Day 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

capturing the likeness of Elmo~graphite and charcoals

continuing the study of JD Hillberry's book "Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencils"~
FUR : At first glance, drawing fur looks intimidating….

Elmo's cutie pie face has been staring at me from my desktop wallpaper for months now….each time I see it, I wanted to draw him .
but somehow I kept proscastinating because I wanted to draw my darling well and I didnt hv the confidence yet ~

Today, as I walked into my room and saw the beautiful filing cabinet that my carpentar has made for me…..which was despite my designer's doubts that the contrasting veneers I selected might work ….tho' I was quietly adamant that I wanted it done the way I envisoned it and I trusted my eye. Looking at my beautiful cabinet sitting in my master bedroom looking so beautiful was a great feeling~

That confidence of being proven right and perhaps partly also the effects of the caffein from the iced Kemaman coffee that I drank during "yum cha" (Cantonese word for drinking tea) with the girls after lessons and shopping ~ made me decide today to plunge headlong to sketch Elmo.
Preparing the table and art supplies…...

Dont you think Elmo looks absolutely handsome in his photos?
Now u see why I absolutely must attempt to capture his likeness?

partial work done , took a break for dinner

5½" x 8¼", graphite n charcoals
160gsm, acid free cartridge paper
title: ELMO

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

make lots of art, make lots of mistakes~learn from the process...

Things that speak to me from artbizblog….
Quotes: Alyson Stanfield :

"FINAL WORD: Get back in the studio and make art. Make lots of art. Make lots of mistakes. Learn from the process ….

1) Make it regular–whether it’s the same time every day, the same number of hours each week, or on the same days of the week. Not a morning person? Then for Pete’s sake, don’t say you’re going to get up early and go to the studio. Schedule your studio time when you are most creative and productive.
I’d love to say that all you need is passion and excitement about your art, but you also must have a healthy dose of discipline to channel that enthusiasm. Don’t believe me? Read Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. Colvin shows how two people with equal parts talent take very different paths when one of them commits to a deliberate practice. And if you want to see discipline instilled in a lifelong artist, check out The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.
2) Keep it sacred. Don’t let anyone or anything interfere with your studio time. I’ve read about a few artists lately who wouldn’t allow phones in their studios for fear that they could become a distraction. It’s also important to be able to turn down requests and invitations that would take you away from your studio time."

even though for now art is still a hobby and not a career, nevertheless the principles still stand true~ and I hear it loud and clear ;)

and so yesss, I will dedicate every Wednesday to be my art studio day~ to paint and to make art, lots of art, make lots of mistakes and learn from the process….:P
Today I painted my lotuses:

9½" x 11½"
title: Valencia blooms

6½" x 5½"
title: Lotus