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 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 Amazon.com~ 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

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Painting Jon, Mr Charmer…4 yrs old

continuing with the 2nd part of triptych of sons …..link to portrait of Julian and link to portrait of Justin

Finishing first draft of Jon below was easy enough~

It was when trying to paint Jon's minute facial expressions, I got sooooo frustrated !
Indeed I was stuck in a conundrum for 3 days, editing and reediting….. to the extent
I almost trashed my work into the dustbin. No matter what I did, yet it just didnt look quite kosher!
But I remembered mum's pantang of ever throwing away any photos of loved ones and I sayang all the hours already spent on the art piece .
So I thought I would give it another try after researching on line to see if there were anything that maybe would light up an eureka bell in my head!

Problem 1:
The proportions/position of Jon's eyes was totally not right….showing him last night, he said I made him look like a Korean boy….well, I dont know what nationality but it wasnt a kiddo I recognized either !

Problem 2:
The skin tone was off…..one thing I have learnt, it is so much easier to paint a suntanned skin because the pigment of burnt sienna almost always get Asian skin perfect!. For fairer Jon I tried to add a tinge of crimson, a tinge of red , yellow ochre…. no, not the right shade~ then adding just a dash of burnt sienna and still he didnt look healthy , OMG…..

I decided to leave the eyes /skin tone aside, go on to finish the shadings on the teeshirt/hair and the textures of the foliage background instead.
Rather than repeat another even wash background which I, ehem had perfected :P, hahaha…..I wanted to try something else…..and started to attempt a subtle image of garden with suggestions of grass and vague images of trees..
Along the way, it struck me that the composition would turn out much better if the foliage/grass was painted in detail rather than blurry color nuances of trees .

Just because I had not learnt it yet in class does not mean I should not experiment right? If there is a better way to do this….I'm sure to find out in class next week , hah I can still correct my work ~

Meanwhile today was a masochistic trial as I ended up almost painting every blade of grass/leaf inch by inch….oui.
Notwithstanding my clumsy effort, hey I rather like what I did ….. my garden background looked more refreshing and perked up !

The detailed background did not subtract from the main focus….

Overall I felt it added some depth to Jon and made my painting more dimensional , which should be good, hmmmm?

Yes :)))))

I definitely want to do more such detailed backgrounds for future portraits~

And yeah ….How did I get around to overcome my 2 initial problems ?

Addressing problem 1:
Well I redid Jon's eyes using what Craig Nelson taught in his DVD lesson~ the technique of getting proportions/gestures relatively correct thru using plum lines and checking for angles via simple alignment of 2 landmarks using his pencil!

Jon's left eye just needed to be reduced a tad smaller and his right eye needed to be brought down lower so as to be inline at a correct slanting angle with the left eye.

WoW…..so simple, so common sense and bingo!!!

Luckily I had no problems to wash off my original 2B pencil mark with its earlier wrong proportions/positions in spite of the many layers of watercolors ….
Thats what I love about watercolors….it is so versatile!!

Repainting my fresh lines, I quickly experienced an AHA moment because with those tiny adjustments, wow…..I could definitely see some semblance and recognize my sweet boy looking right back at me as I remember him, aged 4 yrs….aaah, brings back great memories of those happy days~~

Enjoy and happy learning everyone!

Addressing problem 2 :
After waiting for the skin colors to dry , I then added an overall very diluted wash of vermillion over the skin areas ……viola, now Jon looks ala naturale .

Well….readers, my friends, my sons…...What do you think ?

11.5" x15.5" on 200 gms cold press
Title: Jon, 4 yrs MR FASHIONABLE
© michellechoong_khoo

Presenting Jon above in watercolor…..
My darling, the kiddo ~ a polished Mr Charmer…. complete with an added sunglass in his little chubby hand~~

On hindsight, I should have drawn the Louis Vuitton designer shades that he showed me on his 3G iphone yesterday…..oh , I shall do that when I paint the future triptych sons' series, aged 10yrs!

Asking Eddie as he came home from golf awhile ago : "Well, is this better, did I nail it?"

Hahahaha, I am happy like a sotong (octopus) with his verdict : "Boleh tahan la"……

Even if it was out of the goodness of his heart being in a great mood on Happy Father's Day or if he did indeed literally meant "can stand"…..hohoho, I am singing like a lark in the shower !

After which, woo hoooooo…..time to go onto working at completing the 3rd panel , which is of Justin, aged 4 yrs ❤❤❤

to see all 3 panels together, link 1st triptych

Friday, June 11, 2010

portraiture of the love of my life~ SONS

My first project of family watercolor portraiture will be a triptych of Jon, Julian, Justin when they were all individually 3-4 yrs old.

The initial drafts and first layers of backgrounds have been laid last night …
Today I chose to finish Julian first because his pose was in bare skin , thus I thought easier for me to complete.

I get so nostalgic just looking at the baby photos of my darlings….they were so photogenic and adorable , now looking back I realized that even then their characteristics were so apparent in the way that they posed.
Jon, my Mr Charmer,
Julian, my Sportman ,
Justin, my Mr StrongMan

Anyway, I had thought to put the first drafts aside to slowly work at them over the weekend but today I was in an artistic mood.
Even in class, I stayed back to finish my art piece till 3pm …

End June, it will be 4 months since I started art classes at MIA centre….how time flies.
I have very quickly learnt that in art, when the mood to create comes along….to go with the flow and let the feelings guide me along.

And so it was that I actually finished Julian's portrait in one sitting…..WOW, from someone who tends to overcook my watercolors, I have become very efficient indeed!

In the old ways , it would take me an estimated 3 - 4 days but I have learnt to curb my propensity to edit and over correct the shades.
Nowadays, I just give in to the spontaneity and I guess it helps that I quickly got Julian's skin color right from the first dab . There's hope for me to become an artist? Hahaha.

Painting Julian radiates such warm pleasure and joy ….

11.5" x 15.5" on 200 gms cold press
Title: JULIAN, 4 yr old MR SPORTY
© michellechoong_khoo

I think I managed to capture his essense, his little confident muscular pose and I like enlarging Julian's eyes just a wee bit to better reflect his sparkling cheekiness~

I cant wait to complete my portraits of little Jon and little Justin next~~~~
to see all 3 panels together, link 1st triptych

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lesson 14 shallow field, painting patterns

Never ever say never to something unless you give it a try first …., that was the lesson that I learnt from today's painting session , trying shallow field~ a study of still life against a patterned background~

I had always avoided painting patterns, deeming the exercise too tedious .

When told to bring a pattern cloth/wall paper/ wrapping paper with an object…..my intention was to bring the simplest item I could think of...which was my sunglass and my art pouch!

To make it more challenging, Ms Shia suggested adding another element , a box of color pencils, sunglass pouch, watercolor box…..aiyo, this is gonna turn out to be a major headache, I thought !

So Ms Smarty Pants ~ me ~ quickly opted for my pencil case because it was boxy and should be easier to paint~

Cracking hard on how to position all 3 items so as to best capture some lighted and dark areas on a white cloth….all the while worrying over the challenge of painting all of them juxtaposed in front of my eyes~

I decided to start with a uniform sweet pink wet on dry wash and whilst waiting for it to dry….mmmmm I made myself a cup of 3-in-1 Malacca White Coffee , had a bite of Danish pastry……stretched my legs before I sat down again to further tackle the assignment.

Eh, eh eh ….I was soon engrossed over painting every little details, every nuance of light and designs.

No one could be more surprised than myself that I actually experienced so much pleasure from today's lesson!!! Hahahaha….

My class was supposed to end at 12.30pm but even when the afternoon session students started coming in, it was very nice of Ms Shia to allow me to stay on till 3 pm to complete my art piece , even checking in on my work every now and then~~

first draft completed at MIA classroom

I was pretty satisfied with the outcome of the sunglass with the art pouch but I didnt like what I had done with the little pencil case at all~ it somehow distracts rather than adds to the picture, in which case it has no reason being there !.

How best to salvage my 4 hours' hard work? That was what occupied my mind while driving home...munching on my slices of crunchy guava!

I decided to modify the pencil case into another patterned small bag with colors that complement my red roses and sunglass….
While still feeling inspired , I quickly strewn a scarf for referencing and proceeded to set up the easel to finish my art.

the finished artwork
15.5" x 11.5" on 200 gms acid free cold press paper
© michellechoong_khoo

aaaaah, I think this works so much better…..wouldnt you agree? ;D

Oooops, I even forgot to eat my lunch!

Wow, painting is to be encouraged if it makes me stick to my diet, what a pleasant extra incentive my new hobby has turned out to be~ good good good , Goody!

Monday, June 7, 2010

completion of painting skies assignment

continuing from previous blog

coming home from Penang and taking loads, loads photoshots of skies….
In spite of a splitting headache and to help me deal with my heavy heart over papa's ill health~I sat down, lit a Lotus fragranced incence stick and proceeded to paint my incomplete assignments~

outcome of Project C "Cabo de Gata"

I looked at all the photos of the skies that I shot enroute to and fro Penang….
the laden skies bespoke the language of my heart….

I will try to paint them another day ~

I wrapped up the night just as the 2nd incense stick burnt to ashes~ another token of thanks to a great pal , Andrea for this tip too.
The incense really helped to keep the bugs away and the subtle sandelwood aura puts one in the mood of creation…..I will never lite another incense without thinking of you, Andrea ;)

scene along East Coast Highway back to KL
11.5" x 8.25 " on 300 gms cold press paper
© michellechoongkhoo

giving thanks to a happy life, for the joys that my sons bring, for the love of my life, for the little blessings daily….

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our live." ~ANNIE DILLARD

Friday, June 4, 2010

paint more skies~

Trying to fulfill my promise to Ms Shia ~ link to Lesson 13 " studying deep fields"

Later in the evening after dinner…I scoured my archives to see what other photos of skies I have in my iPhoto folders….

I found that all my own photos of skies, were of those taken at diving locations…..or limited to sunsets, sunrises.

Searching my flickr ctc's photos to get skies in different perspectives ….I find Miquel Comes' many photos of stunning gorgeous beach colors and striking smouldering mountain sceneries to be mesmerizingly awsome….
I favorited 3 and sought his permission to copy them onto watercolor:
This is simply beautiful beyond words, my favourite of them all~ I wish I was there too ;)

(B) Sister Golden Hair : The contemplative mysterious air makes one pause and ponder

( C) Cabo de Gata : I just love his composition of adding one lone nudist in the wide expanse of sea and sky

Granted Miquel's kind permission , I shall bravely try to attempt to do some justice to his beautiful photos ~ hope he do not end up disgusted with my efforts and edit me out of his contact list!!!!

outcome of Project Photo (A) Wish you were here


first layer

trying out the salt effect for the beach grains…and after many layers of colors for the cliff and the horizon~

Oooops I seem to have shifted the focal point away from the sky and onto the sea /beach instead!
Not that I dont like it but mmmmm, I guess I need to try to paint more skies next~~~

outcome of Project (B) Sister Golden Hair

first draft

many washes of the skies later~ I prefer my sky of the first draft but I love the translucence of the finished painting……again I have succeeded in shifting the focal point away from the sky…oh noooo~

and I failed to capture the mysterious moodiness that the original photo enraptured ~
this needs to be repainted


I have one last chance to fulfill my assignment with the 3rd shot "Cabo de Gata"...
I sure hope that I do not end up fussing over the ripples of the waters and the silhouette of the nudist instead of the sky
If I do, then maybe I may have to change the title of this blog from "paint more skies" to something else perhaps?

Life is simple, Life is Good
lets not fret it too much…have a laugh
btw Have you ever wondered perhaps
"Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?"

hahahaha, have a lovely weekend ahead


Lesson 13~ Deep Field Study

We all brought photos for today's lesson…..
Skies blue, cloudy, pinky, grey, clear, thunderstormy, early morn or mysterious dusk….because the theme is learning about "deep field" painting …

Wait….I asked why only photos of skies ? Eh how come no mentions on photos of fields ?

Heh heh…deep fields as in skies that are deep in the horizon la~

Ah so des ka ? Ah sooooo! Oh I see~~~

I chose to paint some of my Sipadan photos of the gypies at work in the calm seas off Mabul….to try to recapture the beautiful tranquility and landscape of this incredible paradise which is always always a balm for sore urban eyes~

We were shown how to paint an imaginary fluffy sky…Ms Shia made it seem so delightful , starting to prepare the paper for a very wet wash using cheerful aquamarine blue and also saying if one looks more carefully at the clouds,there are lemony yellows and spots of sweet pinks here and there as well as different tones of grey~

Ms Shia demonstrated by improving on my "icelandic" sky below……she kept saying the colors were so cooling …
I take it to mean my colors were not dynamic enough, hahaha.

Apart from being able to paint/draw masterpieces, obviously there is also language skill to motivate students and my art teacher has definitely mastered that to a pat :)

Thus duly motivated by Ms Shia's demo , my classmates were transformed and furiously proceeded to paint volumes of skies…..wow, 3 or more skies per person no less…..

Alas in comparison I was not as productive ;(

….for after I was done with my Mabul sky above, somehow I became sucked into a time warp ~ engrossed with the micro details of my gypsies on their "sampan"….I lost track of the morning until I heard Ms Shia intoning :
" Michelle ~ I want to see many forms of skies, show me an imaginary sky…done from your memory… "

Huh? Which made me go…." Oh Oooops ~ already 12 noon la….paper wont dry on time, I will practice at home la ok ! "~ I promise!

And viola, Tadaaa this is my completed Mabul panoramic sky with my sea gypies harvesting the sea from their little sampan ~

The photo shot was done with the painting clipped onto my curtains with the morning sun's rays providing a strong backlite~ erm practicing what I learnt from DSLR photography class about aperture, shutter , ISO and exposure compensation….
hee hee~

This is about killing 2 birds with one stone, boink boink~ Hahahaha

and what about my promise to Ms Shia?

sketching for relaxation and just for fun~

art teacher

art student