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Dinard, French Landscape Paintings


Dinard, France II

 

Years ago when I visited Dinard in the height of summer, I gave up going to this beach simply because it was so crowded with holiday makers and I couldn't find a parking spot.  But last month when my workshop students and I went there, there was no one except a few locals enjoying a quiet stroll by the water.  I thought I came to a different beach.

 

In front of us was a vast stretch of sandy beach, the calm blue ocean, the town of Dinard on the left, the skyline of Saint-Malo in the far right.  It was almost too good to be true to be able to keep such a spectacular view all to ourselves.  The whole ambiance was so inviting my students and I couldn't wait to get to work.  Even the sun was cooperating and peeked through clouds to warm us up on a cool autumn morning.  But then again, it might have been our enthusiasm that kept us warm.

 

I liked the view on my right as the formation of rocks there was interesting and the light coming from behind was quite attractive.  I chose that for my first demonstration, which was followed by my students trying their hand at my approach.  After a lovely picnic lunch on the beach, we found ourselves painting by a chateau nearby.  What a beautiful day we had!

 

 

Beach in Dinard, France - There was a "painting" in every direction!

 

 

My second demo by Château de bord de mer, Dinard

 

 

 

Dinard, France II

 

A large digital file available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Il fait toujours beau en Bretagne! no.II


Pointe du Chevet

 

This painting is one of the demonstrations I did in my recent workshop in Brittany.   Pointe du Chevet is at the tip of the peninsula near Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer on the Emerald Coast of Brittany, France.  As seen in the photo (below), the view we had from there was stunningly beautiful, and the weather couldn't have been better, either.  Both my students and I were so eager to take advantage of this one fine day to paint outdoors.

 

When we arrived there, the tide was low, exposing much of the mud flat in front of us.  Damp mud glistening in the sunlight, instead of the calm water, made the landscape look more interesting to paint - and challenging.  Challenging, because every time fast-moving clouds covered the sun (and it happened every 5-10 minutes), that changed tonal values of the scene completely.  I must say that must have driven my students crazy.  In my workshop, I stress the importance of painting with values rather than colors, and then they were trying to deal with it when in fact the values changed every 10 minutes.  Nonetheless the time we spent there was very pleasant.

 

While painting, we noticed down on the muddy ground some people walking and a tractor traveling to and from the mussel beds that were built a couple of kilometers from the coast.  Later on, my students and I had the pleasure of tasting local mussels, one of Brittany's prized delicacies.  They were a little smaller than what I am used to seeing elsewhere but so sweet and juicy.  A day in the sun ended perfectly.

 

 

My students hard at work

 

A tractor on the mud flat

 

 

I put together my paintings and plein-air sketches (2013) of Brittany and made a book "Bretagne - Breizh - My Watercolor Journey Through the Land of the Celts in France."  Click this link for more details.

 

 

 

 

Pointe du Chevet, Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer, France I

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 8.5 x 23 inches (21 x 58 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Through Gallery

 

 

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Il fait toujours beau en Bretagne! no. I


Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, France I

 

Il fait toujours beau en Bretagne: I was in Brittany last month and my Breton host taught me this expression.  When people say "il fait toujours beau" (the weather is always fine), it may be true in certain parts of the world.  But "en Bretagne" (in Brittany) in northwest of France?  The area is known for variable weather patterns even in a day.

 

Recently I taught a plein-air workshop near the small town of Ploubalay of Brittany for 5 days.  Each morning around the dining table where we all ate, our conversation started with "what's the weather like today?" and ended at dinner time with "what's the weather like tomorrow?"  Although we had to take the daily weather report seriously, we wanted to venture out to paint every day.

 

On the second day, at the suggestion of our hosts, we drove to Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, a lovely seaside town with a beautiful view of the bay with lots of boats.  The weather was sunny all day when we painted there and nearby.  Yes, on this day, we were truly blessed with a perfect il-fait-toujours-beau kind of day.

 

Four out of 5 days, we had the very changeable weather, typical of Brittany, from foggy to cloudy to rainy to sunny, etc. but we tried to do at least one painting outside every day.  When it was too wet or windy, we worked inside the studio.  Coming from the almost-always-sunny San Diego, I found it a little difficult to adjust to this type of weather pattern but I survived with layers of clothing and careful selection for a place to do outdoor demos.  I must say I was impressed with my students who were not only equipped with proper plein-air gears but also with a go-getter attitude of die-hard plein-air painters.

 

After an intense week of plein-air painting and an introduction to the Breton weather, I learned to really appreciate all kinds of weather that make the landscape of the region look so magical and beautiful.  Even painting under the gray sky brought me the joy just as much as doing it under the sun.  Maybe it is true when they say il fait toujours beau en Bretagne

 

 

I put together my paintings and plein-air sketches (2013) of Brittany and made a book "Bretagne - Breizh - My Watercolor Journey Through the Land of the Celts in France."  Click this link for more details.

 

 

My first demo, Saint-Briac-sur-Mer

 

 

My second demo, Saint-Briac-sur-Mer

 

Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, France II

 

 

 

 

Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, France I

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Private Collection

 

 

Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, France II

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 8.5 x 23 inches (21 x 58 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Through Gallery

 

 

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International Watercolor Exhibition - Thessaloniki, Greece


Afternoon, Venice, Italy IV

 

I am honored to have my work included in the Second International Watercolor Exhibition, which opened on September 15 in Thessaloniki, Greece.  This show was organized by George Politis, a wonderful Greek watercolor artist and a dedicated teacher, and will run until October 7.  I have "Afternoon, Venice, Italy IV" and the other piece of Venice in this exhibition.

 

Showcasing small- to medium-sized watermedia gems from both Greek and international artists, who were selected by a panel of international jurors, the exhibition is worth visiting if you are near the Gallery of Society of Macedonian Studies in Thessaloniki, the second-largest Greek city.

 

 

 

Thessaloniki Boats, Greece I (plein-air sketch)

 

 

Thessaloniki Boats, Greece II (plein-air sketch)

 

 

 

Afternoon, Venice, Italy IV

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 11.5 x 15.5 inches (29 x 39 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Immagini dell'Acqua, Milano, Italy


Immagini dell'Acqua

 

It is with a great honor that I am participating, as an invited guest artist, in the 40th anniversary exhibition of the Associazione Italiana Acquerellisti (AIA).

 

Mr. Fernando Cavalieri, the AIA's President, together with Ms. Cristina Bracaloni, the AIA's Vice President, very kindly extended the invitation to me earlier this year to take part in the events including the opening of this special exhibition and live demonstrations.  The theme of the exhibition is Immagini dell'Acqua (Images of Water), and it will take place at the Acquario Civico in Milan, Italy from the 2nd to the 26th of October.

 

An international watercolor exhibition, the show will display paintings by artists from the AIA and watercolor societies representing Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China and Mexico.  As a guest of honor, I will have the pleasure of showing some of my originals including "Masquerade, Venice I" and "Duomo, Milano, V" and perform a couple of live demonstrations.  I will also run several workshop sessions.

 

 

Duomo, Milano, Italy V (55x74 cm)

 

Masquerade, Venice, Italy I (55x74 cm)

 

 

 

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The Land of Smiles, Thai Landscape Paintings


Bangkok Street I

 

While I am on the road teaching or for an exhibition, there is something I try to do whenever I can find a little free time.  That is going to a non-touristy, ordinary neighborhood where local people live.  Even for a very short time, I like and enjoy "living like a local," walking on the same street, smelling the same smell, shopping in the same market, visiting the same park with people that live there...  In such a place, especially in a non-English-speaking country, it is expected that only a local language is being heard.

 

I must admit that I would rather spend time exploring such a place than seeing the famous tourist sites.  That is why I don't usually take a guidebook (not even a map) with me on a trip to a foreign place.  And if I can make a painting or two in a place where ordinary tourists never find, I'm a happy camper.

 

During my recent visit to Thailand, I was fortunate enough to visit a small fishing village in Chonburi.  There I spent one of the most productive painting days while making friends with local people who showed me around and fed me - with smiles.  All day long, they spoke to me in Thai, and I talked to them in English and Japanese.  Despite the serious language barrier that existed between us, we laughed, formed a sense of friendship, and even understood each other's words a little.  Communication is not just verbal; sometimes nonverbal communication is much more powerful.  I am a firm believer that if you show your genuine willingness to communicate, it is usually reciprocated.  In Thailand, I found, they always do it with big, friendly smiles.

 

Chonburi, Thailand III

 

 

Chonburi, Thailand III

 

 

Chonburi, Thailand I

 

 

 

Chonburi, Thailand I-III

 

A larger digital file available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

Bangkok Street, Thailand I

 

A larger digital file available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 14.25 x 21.5 inches (36 x 54.5 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

 

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Plein-Air Painting in Long Island, New York (2) - American Landscape Painting


Hampton Bay, LI, NY I

 

If a plein-air landscape painter doesn't do a maritime theme on Long Island, it's like going to the Rockies and not painting mountains.  So I decided to look for more scenes with water along the south shore after completing a waterscape in Center Moriches.

 

I found this small harbor in Hampton Bay.  I loved the overall atmosphere of a quiet day here but, to create a better design in my painting, I had to rearrange some of the things I saw.

 

Although it might have been better to actually do a few quick thumb-nail sketches to work out compositions, I sort of did that in my head.  In fact, this is an important step of my painting process.  Just because something is there, we don't have to paint it as is.

 

  

 

 

 

East Hampton, Long Island, New York I

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Painting in New York City, American Landscape Paintings


Central Park, NYC I

 

If you had a day in New York City to do anything you want, what would you choose?  A tough call, I'm sure - the city has too many temptations!

 

Recently I found myself to be in that situation between two of my workshops. It was a glorious weekend day, and I couldn't believe my luck.  Here I am posting photos of what I decided to do.

 

 

Painting in Central Park, NYC

 

 

 

City Hall, NYC I (20"x14")

 

 

 

 

Battery Park, NYC I (14"x20")

 

 

 

Central Park, NYC I

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

 

 

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Workshop: Painting Light and Atmosphere of California Landscape


 

I love being with other artists.  I love sharing my creative passion.  I love painting California landscape.  In the workshop I just finished in Orange County, California, I got to do all these things for three days.

 

For a full house of 18 students, I did 2 demos each day in a room filled with enthusiasm.  Painting light and atmosphere of California landscape being the theme of the workshop, we did a harbor scene, a downtown street , an outdoor café, a mission and a desertscape.  Everyone worked so hard and we felt like we had just finished a whirlwind tour of California by the end of the course.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who attended my workshop!

 

 

 

Sunset Beach, California I (sold)

 

 

Alamitos Bay, California II (sold)

 

 

 

Sunset at Alamitos Bay, California I

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 17 x 23 inches (43 x 58 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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Away From Home - Daily Paintworks Weekly Challenge


Li River, China III

 

As a host for the Daily Paintworks (DPW) Weekly Challenge, I have chosen the theme "Away from Home" (please read a brief description below).  I thought this topic is a timely one as many of us have a chance to spend some time away from home around this time of the year.

 

Daily painters out there, or occasional painters or anyone who loves to give this challenge a try, let's have fun with it.  To participate, please visit DPW website for more information.  The challenge starts on Saturday, December 21.

 

 

"Away from Home" Challenge:

 

Many people travel at this time of the year.  Some of us visit families and friends for the holiday celebrations while others may get away just to spend some quiet time alone or with someone special.  Whatever the reason, the change of place gives us opportunities to discover many new things or rediscover things we forgot about.  Why don't we take a moment to find inspiration in a place away from home and paint it?  It could be a snowy landscape, a portrait of a grandpa, a house decorated with lights, a beach in the South Pacific, or an imaginary place you think is perfect for your ideal holiday.  I just came back from China where I attended the opening of an international watercolor exhibition.  This is one of the paintings I did over there.  I know we are all busy with a million things to do in preparation for the holidays, but taking a little time for a painting may be something we just need to relax.  Best wishes for a happy New Year!

 

 

 

Li River, China III

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.


Click here to see other Chinese landscapes on my blog.

 

 

 

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Li River, Chinese Landscape Paintings


Li River, China I

 

Stunning, dramatic, surreal... I don't know if any words can describe the amazing landscapes of karst terrains near Guilin.  Some of the peaks look like animals while others look like giant cacti or jagged teeth.  And these towering mountains are evreywhere - some stand alone right in the middle of a town and others out in the countryside.

 

Between Guilin and Yangshuo, boats take visitors on a cruise on the Li River which meanders through these mountains.  To see this very unique landscape, people come here not just from all over China but from all over the world as well.  Yangshuo receives about 20 million visitors each year.

 

Artists immediately respond to such a magical landscape combined with the often misty atmosphere and very rustic scenery in the surroundings.  Needless to say, this region has attracted artists for centuries.  I met a Chinese woman who told me that some lucky Chinese artists rent a place to stay for a month just to paint the sceneries around here.  A month would be a dream for me but even just once an experience of painting in the nature in a place like this is truly unforgettable.

 

Painting by the Li River

 

 

Li River, China II (14"x20")

 

 

Li River, China I

 

A large digital file available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Northen Guangxi Province, Chinese Landscape Paintings


Street, Chengyang-Dazhai

 

In Sanjiang County in the northern part of Guangxi Province, I spent some time learning about culture and traditions of some of China's minority groups.  Predominantly inhabited by the Dong minority people, this region seems a bit different from the other parts of China.  Perhaps because the Dong speak their own language or perhaps because of their traditional wooden architecture that still exists such as drum towers and wind and rain bridges.  Most people in small villages are farmers and they were friendly to a foreigner like me.  Today's painting is some of my small studies done in this region.

 

 

 

Studies, Sanjiang County, China

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 17 x 23 inches (43 x 53 cm)

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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Aberdeen I, Hong Kong Landscape Painting


Aberdeen, HK I

 

After enjoying a beautiful day painting at Aberdeen on Hong Kong Island, I traveled to the New Territories to visit my artist friend and respected teacher Harvey Chan.  His students gathered that night in Harvey's studio to watch my demonstration he organized for me.  I also had the pleasure of having some of my former workshop students and my art collector friend join us.  I had a wonderful time sharing my work and talking about watercolor and more.  I would like to thank everyone who was there for me!

 

 

painting en plein air in Aberdeen, HK

 

     

With Harvey Chan and his students, Hong Kong

 

"Tai-O Fishing Village" (18"x24") - demo

 

 

 

Aberdeen, Hong Kong I

 

A large digital file available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Sam Mun Tsai I, Hong Kong Landscape Painting


Sam Mun Tsai, HK I

 

In Sam Mun Tsai Fishing Village, local fishermen breed fish in cages.  There are several stations floating on the calm water inside the bay, and I loved the serenity and timeless beauty of the scene as I watched fishing boats come and go.  But the number of such floating stations is dwindling.  I even heard (and I hope I was wrong) that the remaining ones may be removed eventually - just like old houses and shops tucked in between high-rises of Hong Kong.

 

I looked up toward one end of the bay to find an enormous luxurious housing development, named the Beverly Hills.  That in and of itself resembles a massive concrete hill.  If I were living in one of those fancy apartments, I'd be so delighted to have a picturesque view of traditional fishing boats outside my windows.  I would just love to see the Old and the New Hong Kong co-exist nicely.

 

 

Sam Mun Tsai, Hong Kong I

 

A large digital file available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy


Santa Maria della Salute V

 

One of my favorite paintings is John Singer Sargent's piece that depicted the façade of the Salute.  Rather, this painting is much more than just "favorite."  Early on in my career as a watercolor painter, I was simply in awe when I saw it for the first time.  I would even call that a life-changing experience.

 

 

Almost anything my eyes see in Venice can be a painting.  At least that's how I feel.  But scenes involving Santa Maria della Salute are especially magnificent...

 

 

 

 

 

"Santa Maria della Salute, Venice III" (10"x29") - available

 

 

 

"Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy IV" (19"x13") - sold

 

 

 

"Venetian Sunset VII" (8.25"x11.5") - available

 

 

 

 

Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy V

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

 

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Al Ponte di Rialto, Venice I, Italian Landscape Painting


Al Ponte di Rialto, Venice I

 

No matter how touristy, Venice never ceases to amaze and inspire us artists.  I have been to many places in the world to paint, but honestly, there is only a few where I can truly feel like a kid in a candy store.  Almost everything is overpriced in Venice and some things look too tacky even to attempt to paint, but knowing that it can be a big tourist trap is never enough to keep us - or at least me - from going there.  There's no denying this canal city has the magical power to mesmerize us. 

 

In fact, when I'm there, I see too many things that I want to paint, and it's over-stimulating.  Take this ordinary scene by the Canal Grande for example.  Why is it that a faded green awning of a small restaurant looks so perfect?  And what is it that makes a sailor's straw hat with a bright red ribbon look so attractive?  Except that this was Venice, I simply can't find a reason.

 

 

Al Ponte di Rialto, Venice, Italy I

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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An Exhibition of All-Media to Begin in Bélâbre, France


Ploumanac'h, France II

 

I'm very pleased to announce the beginning of the 12th Rencontres Artistiques du Val d'Anglin, an all-media exhibition with French and international artists.

 

I am extremely delighted to be invited guests of honor together with Eugen Chisnicean, a watercolor painter from Moldova.  The show opens on October 4 and runs until October 13 in the town of Bélâbre (Indre), France.  In addition to exhibiting 10 or more works each, we will also conduct a workshop and do live demos.

 

 

 

Ploumanac'h, France II

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14.5 x 21.5 inches (36 x 54 cm)

Purchase: Please send me an email

 

 

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Hachinohe Morning Market, Aomori I, Japanese Landscape Painting


Hachinohe Morning Market, Japan I

 

Six o'clock in the morning.  And this huge outdoor market by the Port of Hachinohe is already packed.  They tell me that the market opens around 3am and every Sunday it's crowded with people coming from the city of Hachinohe and neighboring towns and villages.  Three in the morning!  It's still dark even in the summertime.  I have no idea how many stalls are lined up along the quay.  It seems to go on forever and I just can't see the end of it.  All sorts of fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, cut flowers and crafts can be found here, and every vendor seems to be doing good business.

 

It's fun to sketch at a place like this but, to be honest, I would be lying if I said I'm not distracted by wonderful smells coming from charbroiled fish, seafood soup, freshly baked sweets and hot coffee, etc. that are also being sold here and there.  There's too much temptation and the market closes at about 8am.  Here, to sketch, or not to sketch, that is definitely the question.

 

 

Hachinohe Morning Market, Aomori, Japan I

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Onuma (Hakodate), Hokkaido II, Japanese Landscape Painting


Onuma, Hokkaido, Japan II

 

My recent 5-day workshop in Hakodate, Japan involved a day out with nature with stops at a couple of picturesque spots near Hakodate.  We, 20 of us, all prayed for good weather the day before, and next morning we woke up to a cool day with cloudy sky (so I think most of us had been good!).

 

We were all excited that we could paint beautiful landscapes of southern Hokkaido directly from nature.  The lady who organized my workshop had chartered a bus for the day's trip.  Everyone felt like school kids on a field trip to an amusement park or something, I must say.

 

Our first stop was the Onuma Quasi-National Park.  Clouds covered the top of Mt. Komagatake but Onuma (meaning "large lake"), the island-dotted lake was breathtaking nonetheless.  Lunch at a nearby restaurant Country Kitchen Wald is also worth mentioning.  A hand-made log-house building, warm and cozy ambiance inside, not to mention all the dishes made from local organic meat and produce made us feel very welcome.

 

 

Demonstration by Lake Onuma, Hokkaido, Japan

 

With owners of Wald, Onuma, Hokkaido

 

 

Onuma (Hakodate), Hokkaido, Japan I

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Donated to owners of Wald

 

 

Onuma (Hakodate), Hokkaido, Japan II

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Workshops in Kyoto & Osaka, Japan


Paris Café (Sold)

 

I just finished two workshops in Kyoto and Osaka, Japan.  I was told, in both locations, classes were filled months ahead of time and there was still dozens on the wait list.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who braved this summer's record-breaking heat to participate in my workshops. 

 

This was my second workshop in Kyoto.  While sign-ups were taken on a first-come, first-served basis, I saw several familiar faces in the classroom.  It was nice to see them again after my first one back in February.  This time we practiced painting a street scene involving a café with cozy ambiance.  The outside temprature was so high it was unthinkable to sit in an outdoor café in Kyoto, let alone paint right there on location.  But painting in an air-conditioned room was a breeze and everyone did a fantastic job.

 

  Kyoto, Japan

 

Osaka, Japan

 

In Osaka, the theme was a waterscape.  After my demo, everyone tried painting a canal scene like this (below).  After all, Osaka calls itself a "capital of water," so it was an appropriate choice, I think.  Again, congrats to everyone on a job well done.  I look forward to seeing you again!

 

Canal, China (sold)

 

 

 

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Fishing Village, Hokkaido II, Japanese Landscape Painting


Fishing Village, Hokkaido, Japan II

 

This fishing village on the island of Hokkaido is not exactly in a remote, rural area; rather, it is near a city that used to thrive on herring industry.  But in Hokkaido, even cities are not too crowded and they have a small-town feel.  And I have found the people living there very friendly and easygoing.

 

The northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido has a long, severely cold winter.  After all, it is not really far from Eastern Siberia of Russia, which says a lot about the difficulty of spending winter months and the perseverance required to do that each year.  As well, it is the least populated major island in Japan where people bask in the glory of the abundant natural beauty but also are at the mercy of Mother Nature.

 

In this painting, I depicted a slice of life in a small fishing village on a warm summer day of August.  But within a few months, they will be preparing for yet another long, freezing winter.

 

 

Fishing Village, Hokkaido, Japan II

 

A large digital file availble on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Fishing Village, Hokkaido I, Japanese Landscape Painting


Fishing Village, Hokkaido, Japan I

 

I was looking for a place to paint, preferrably a port with many boats or something similar.   That is when I found this tiny hamlet of fishermen's houses while walking on the outskirts of the coastal city of Otaru.  Tucked in behind a residential area, it was not quite visible from a public street nearby.  With no signs, I could have easily missed it.

 

My instincts told me to take a narrow alley between houses and go toward the joyful commotion of what sounded like sea gulls.  I was glad I did.  At the end of an alley, there was a small bay where local fishermen parked their vessels on shore.  I saw gulls swarming around a returning fishing boat - the last one to come home that day.

 

 

Fishing Village, Hokkaido, Japan I

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Moored, Tokyo II, Japanese Landscape Painting


Moored, Tokyo, Japan II

 

Although Tokyo was my home for several years in the past, the truth is I feel more like a stranger every time I go back there.  An ever-growing, forward-looking megalopolis, this city never ceases to amaze me with new buildings, new technologies, new trends, (and should I mention a new government?), not to mention the sheer number of people!

 

However, even among modern high-rises, one can still find a scene that is reminiscent of the past.  In today's painting, I depicted one of such spots in the shitamachi area that I enjoy visiting while in Tokyo.

 

 

Moored, Tokyo, Japan II

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 15.5 inches (29 x 39 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Bretagne - Enchanted Land, French Landscape Painting


Concarneau, France (sketch)

 

I just completed a sketching tour of Brittany, France (Bretagne in French, Breizh in Breton).  Often dubbed as an enchanted land, I have found this corner of France indeed mystic in many ways.  Foggy coastlines, sprawling hills dotted with menhirs, rush forests, fast-moving clouds... all that makes up their landscape looked something uniquely different from the rest of France that I know.

 

With so many wonderful spots to paint everywhere in Brittany, I really felt like a kid in a candy store.  I am excited to be putting together paintings from this trip and plan to make a book later this year.  A publication date will be announced on my website when it's determined.

 

 

Concarneau, France (sketch)

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14 x 10 inches (35 x 25 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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San Giorgio, Venice II, Italian Landscape Painting


San Giorgio, Venice II

 

The church of San Giorgio Maggiore (the same name as the island where it stands) looks strikingly beautiful with its bell tower soaring into the sky.  It looks as if it stands right on the water of the Venetian lagoon when seen from across the lagoon.  The view, especially from the waterfront promenade by Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark's Square), is one of the most photographed of Venice.

 

Curious what the view might be like from the other side, I hopped on a boat and went over to San Giorgio Maggiore.  It was breathtaking as I imagined.  We could see the similar-looking bell tower of San Marco, the Doge's Palace and other buildings that create the distinctive skyline of the main island of Venice.  And the busy traffic on the water that lies in between was fun to watch, too... gondolas, water buses, barges, cruise ships, you name it.  I did this painting by the marina on the San Giorgio Maggiore island, looking toward San Marco.

 

 

San Giorgio, Venice, Italy II

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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San Giorgio, Venice I, Italian Landscape Painting


San Giorgio, Venice I

 

Painting en plein air in Venice may be every painter's dream.  But, compared to painting in the comfort of an indoor studio, painting outdoors has more elements to factor in, so it can be quite challenging.  For one thing, in Venice, there is a constant flow of people, mainly tourists, virtually everywhere.  Yet with careful planning and a bit of luck, we can manage to set up an easel and paint without fighting a crowd even near a popular spot like San Marco.  Get up and go out to paint before tourists finish their breakfast, or try it when day-trippers leave at the end of the day.

 

For this painting, I found a spot on top of a bridge where we could peek through the canal below to find the bell tower of the San Giorgio Maggiore Church straight ahead.  Nearing the end of the day, the quality of light was gorgeous, and so was the view.

 

 

San Giorgio, Venice, Italy I

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 19 x 8 inches (48 x 21 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Arcachon I, French Landscape Painting


Arcachon, France I

 

I did this painting on location from the beginning to the finish, during which I probably experienced four different types of weather conditions: overcast, windy, rainy and sunny.  Plus the temps were lower than I expected and I was shivering as well.  Nonetheless, I felt great when I completed the painting and I must say I even enjoyed the crazy weather changes in a short period of time.

 

So after this one, I attempted another painting of a small shipyard nearby.  I was halfway done when a local French woman came up to me to see what I was doing.  She said she liked my work and asked me if I knew anything about boats that I was painting.  I said, "please tell me. I'm interested."  She told me that these are traditional fishermen's boats unique to this region, called pinasse.  She went on to say that they were named that way because wood from local pine trees was used to make these boats.  Yes, I had seen a huge pine forest not far from there. Mmm, interesting.  I had to write it down.  So I lay down my painting brush to look for a notebook for a brief second... that is when the sudden gusty wind took everything away and dropped it on the wet sand - my half-finished painting (face down), palette (face down), brushes, water, easel etc., literally everything.  My second painting that day was lost but the whole experience was very valuable to me.

 

I am pleased to be invited as a guest of honor to the 3e Biennale d'Aquarelle du Bassin d'Arcachon, August 19 - 31, 2014.

 

 

Arcachon, France I

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 15.5 inches (29 x 39 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Tossa de Mar II, Spanish Landscape Painting


Tossa de Mar, Spain II

 

Even though we always try to do the right thing, life throws all kinds of adversity at us - and it seems unfair at times.  Recently I was hit with a big one which I thought would destroy something I was working so hard for.  Needless to say, I was crushed.  But obstacles in life do teach us how to weather the storm.  They can make us stronger, more knowledgeable, more organized and more thoughtful.  Life must go on.

 

 

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” -- Vincent van Gogh

 

 

Tossa de Mar, Spain II

 

Click for an enlarged view of this painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Tossa de Mar I, Spanish Landscape Painting


Tossa de Mar, Spain I

 

Here in the town of Tossa de Mar on the Costa Brava, there's a medieval fortfied village called Vila Vella standing right next to one of their beautiful beaches.  A view of such a fortress above dozens of beach-goers and colorful boats and umbrellas on the sandy beach makes this town very unique.  You can visit this walled village and virtually enjoy a panoramic view here.


 

Tossa de Mar, Spain I

 

A larger digital file available on request

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Costa Brava I, Spanish Landscape Painting


Costa Brava, Spain I

 

On any beach along the rugged coast (the Costa Brava) in the Catalonia region, we can find several small boats.  Most likely they are traditional fisherman's boats called pointu, and I especially like painting them for their shape and colors.  Bright colors and soft curved lines of these boats are so inviting and pleasing to the eye - making the beautiful landscape on the Costa Brava even more attractive.

 

 

Costa Brava, Spain I

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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My Watercolor Painting Trip in Spain


Calella de Palafrugell II (sold)

 

What do you think will happen if you put 9 female strangers in a van to travel in a foreign country for a week?  The only thing that may be common is that they are artists or love art.  Can this be a once-in-a-lifetime experience?  Or a disaster waiting to happen?  Nobody knows until you actually do it yourself but it is quite a daring thing to do for sure.

 

I just returned from such a trip and it was fantastic!  I had a terrific group of 7 artists in my plein-air painting workshop in Spain.  With our wonderful organizer/guide/driver, Jackie, we had a blast despite the bad weather towards the end of the trip.  Jackie has invited me to do another painting trip as an instructor - next one in Provence, France in June, 2015 (details to be announced in my Workshop page).

 

 

Calella Sunrise (sold)

 

Calella Café (sold)

 

Pals, Spain (sold)

 

 

Read Jackie's blog and find out what we did in Spain!

 

Day 1: Watercolor workshop with Keiko Tanabe on the Costa Brava

Day 2: Plein air painting in a botanical garden on the Costa Brava

Day 3: Watercolors from Keiko Tanabe teaching a workshop on the Costa Brava with Frenchescapade

Day 4: From the red poppies to the medieval village of Pals

Day 5: Surreal Dali and last watercolor paintings on the Costa Brava

Day 6: Barcelona: traditions and food

 

 

 

Calella de Palafrugell, Spain II

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 15.5 x 11.5 inches (39 x 29 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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Tai-O II, Hong Kong Landscape Painting


Tai-O, Hong Kong II

 

If I were to make a video of my travel bloopers, I should definitely include footage of my visit to Tai-O.  Tai-O, a small fishing village in Hong Kong, will be one that I will never forget because of what happened there.

 

I was already excited to see the village even before I arrived there, so imagine how I was when I got there.  In short, I lost myself in the sights and fell in a canal.  I wanted to get a perfect viewpoint and walked down the steps to get close to the water surface.  When I noticed the last few steps covered with moss, it was already too late.  I slipped and started going down in water, which was not too deep but mucky.  There was nothing for me to hold on to, so I kept slipping while desperately trying to keep my camera above the water, and by doing so cut my wrist on the stone step.  I still don't know what stopped me from sinking further but miraculously only my pant legs were soaking wet.

 

A friend of mine who traveled there together was horrified and ran to a nearby cafe to fetch a first-aid kit for my wound.  I truly felt sorry for her because my carelessness scared her.  To a small circle of my close friends, I am known for doing pretty daring things to find a better view or get to a perfect spot for a painting.  I think now she is one of those friends (but, dear friend, if you're reading this, I am really sorry..).

 

 

Tai-O, Hong Kong II

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 15.5 x 11.5 inches (39 x 29 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Tai-O I, Hong Kong Landscape Painting


Tai-O, Hong Kong I

 

Hong Kong's urban areas are growing bigger so fast that the entire place may be soon dominated only by high-rise buildings, it seems.  This is happening not only in the heavily-populated downtown and surrounding areas but also out in what used to be a sleepy countryside.  So before it's all gone, I wanted to see an old village or two and find a remnant of the past.


Tai-O is one such place I chose to visit.  This small fishermen's village on Lantau Island is particularly known for stilt houses standing over the rivers that run through it.   During a day, however, it's far from being a quaint, sleepy place because many visitors come to see sights, tatse seafood, watch rare pink dolphins, etc.

 

One might assume that it is easy to find a traditional fishing town in Hong Kong, but the truth is no, especially now it seems development is the name of the game there.  I didn't see a pink dolphin, but I felt pretty lucky to be able to see a traditional way of life in Tai-O .

 

 

Tai-O, Hong Kong I

 

A larger digital file available on request

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Bodrum I, Turkish Landscape Painting


Bodrum, Turkey I

 

I got contacted by a Turkish watercolor artist who lives in Bodrum.  I happened to be in a nearby city with my friend and we were traveling down to Bodrum the day before.  The Bodrum artist heard that I was in the neighborhood and offered to show me around the Bodrum Castle by the ocean.  Did I know her?  Yes, but we were only facebook friends and had never met in person.

 

On a very tight schedule with only 30 minutes to spare, I met up with her for a very quick tour of the castle and a conversation, literally, on the run.  It was so nice of her but frankly I was suprised that she was willing to show me - virtually a stranger - around her town.  Yet it's also true that this kind of encounter is happening to me more often lately as I travel and visit a far-away place where I have online friends.  In some cases, these casual meetings can lead to true friendship or important business opportunities.  Online social networking has its pros and cons; however, I'd like to believe a lot of good things can happen that broaden our horizons and even help our business.

 

 

Bodrum, Turkey I

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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Venice Reflections XI, Italian Landscape Painting


Venice Reflecctions XI

 

I am delighted and honored to announce my participation in the Les Aquarellades 2013, an international invitational watercolor exhibition.  It takes place in Mons, Belgium, about 50km SSW of Brussels, from today through February 10.

 

Four original paintings of mine, including this one, are on exhibit, together with works of other fine watercolorists selected for this show.  I will also have the pleasure of doing a 2-day workshop, Saisir l'atmosphere et la lumiere en aquarelle and a demo  during the event.

 

 

Venice Reflections XI

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 29 x 10 inches (74 x 25 cm)

Frame/Mat: Yes

Purchase: Available during exhibition.

Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Venice Canal XII, Venice Italy Painting


Venice Canal XII

 

If anyone has traveled with me, they know that I don't generally rely on maps.  Even in a new place, I may look at a map just to get an idea in which direction to go, but after that I venture out while maps usually stay inside my backpack.  It is not due to a lack of spatial ability or my gender that I don't like them.  I think it has more to do with my adventurous nature, or wanting to be surprised by unexpected discoveries.

 

I don't normally plan my route following tourist attractions, so that's another reason maps are not particularly important to me.  Of course I get lost easily by exploring a foreign place in this manner, but the truth is, I like to allow myself to be lost.  I can say, in my past travels, I have found more interesting things walking down back alleys with locals rather than on main streets with tourists.  In fact, most of the time I might have not fully realized that I was lost... it does take time before I finally admit it myself.  But getting lost is ok with me because it gives me a chance to find a local person to ask for directions.  Usually people are very kind and such an interaction with locals, however brief, become precious travel memories for me to take home.

 

 

Venice Canal XII

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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Marseille Vieux-Port V, French Landscape Painting


Marseille Vieux-Port, France V

 

After a long voyage at sea all the way from Japan, an expansive view of Marseille was the first thing my father saw as his ship pulled into the harbor.  Back in the early 1960s when travels to a foreign country were so rare and expensive for most Japanese, my father, still a young scholar, was invited by the French Government to spend a year in Paris as a guest researcher.  I can imagine what the experience really meant for him as his lasting impressions never faded and he devoted his academic career to the teaching and research in French literature and philosophy for decades after that.

 

There's no doubt I love visiting France because of my father's influence.  In Marseille I always enjoy walking around the Old Port (Vieux-Port) watching beautiful boats sailing on the Mediterranean.  So what I depicted in this painting is definitely one of my favorite subjects.  But for me personally, because the Marseille Vieux-Port was my father's first sight of his beloved country, it has a significant meaning.  And I wanted to create a mood and a sense of timelessness that would transport me back to a time long ago.

 

This painting is currently in the San Diego Watercolor Society 32nd International Exhibition.  The show opened yesterday and runs through October 31 (the opening reception on October 5).

 

 

Marseille Vieux-Port, France V

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 21 x 29 inches (53 x 74 cm)

Frame/Mat: Yes

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Marseille Vieux-Port V, French Landscape Painting


Marseille Vieux-Port, France V

 

I am pleased to announce that "Marseille Vieux-Port, France V" has been juried into the San Diego Watercolor Society 32nd International Exhibition (judge: Nicholas Simmons).

 

The exhibition will open at the SDWS Gallery on October 1 and run through October 31.  The opening reception will be held at the venue on October 5, with many exhibitors and visitors attending.

 

 

Marseille Vieux-Port, France V

 

Click for an enlarged view of this painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21 x 29 inches (53 x 74 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Available during the exhibition through gallery

 

Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Marseille Vieux-Port IV, French Landscape Painting


Marseille Vieux-Port, France IV

 

"I was lucky to come from a difficult area.  It teaches you not just about football but also life.  There were lots of kids from different races and poor families.  People had to struggle to get through the day."  - Zinedine Zidane, French soccer legend, native of Marseille, son of Algerian immigrants

 

For almost two thousand years, Marseille has been a gateway for people arriving in France from other countries.  Immigrants have come from virtually an every corner of the world but mainly Greece, Italy, Turkey, and in later years from North Africa such as Algeria and Morocco.  With many settling there, Marseille has rapidly become a large, ethnically-diverse, multicultural city.

 

It is the city's Old Port (Vieux-Port) that received people who traveled the Mediterranean to come to France.  Today, the port area serves as a marina for hundreds of leisure boats and looks just lovely with seaside cafes, restaurants and the warm Provencal ambiance.   But if we walk past it and a little deeper off main roads, we will see the reality of the city as a melting pot of immigrant communities, some of which are definitely not on a tourist's map.

 

 

Marseille Vieux-Port, France IV

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

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Canal Grande VII, Venice Italy Painting


Canal Grande, Venice VII

 

Spend 10 minutes on top of the Rialto Bridge overlooking the Grand Canal, and you will perhaps see a dozen different kinds of boats that go up and down this city's major water corridor - waterbuses, taxis, barges, private boats of local residents and of course gondolas, etc., all navigating their way through each other.

 

The Grand Canal is said to follow the course of an ancient river and the area around the Rialto Bridge is the place of the first settlement that later became the city's center of trade.  From what we see today, the area is still the scene of busy life in Venice.

 

 

 

Canal Grande, Venice, Italy VII

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 15.5 inches (29 x 39 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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