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Festival International de l'Aquarelle in Aiguillon, France


A View of Aiguillon II (live demo)

 

A few days ago a friend who lives in Aiguillon took me to the top of a hill behind a small village of Nicole.  Just before the sunset on an unseasonably balmy day, the view from there was stunning.  I could see the town of Aiguillon far down below, the vast valley where it lies and the two rivers, Lot and Garonne, which meet near the town.

 

I felt blessed to be able to spend a marvelous week in Aiguillon, in southwestern France, to participate in the 7th International Festival of Watercolor as invited guests of honor with French artists, David Chauvin and Sonia Privat.

 

The exhibition is represented by 50 international watercolor artists and French colleagues.  The October 18 opening was well-attended not only by many of the exhibiting artists but also by friends and fans of watercolor.  In the following days I did a 3-day watercolor course for my students who came from different parts of France.  I also had the pleasure of doing a live demonstration for the public in the auditorium.

 

The exhibition runs until November 2 in three different venues in the town of Aiguillon.  For more information, visit this link.

 

 

 Opening

 

 My workshop group

 

 Plein-air painting

 

 

A View of Aiguillon, France II

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 19 x 23 inches (48 x 58 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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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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Plein-Air Painting in Long Island, New York (1) - American Landscape Painting


Center Moriches, LI, NY I

 

On my recent trip to Long Island, NY to teach a workshop, I had an opportunity to paint around the island.  This is the first one I attempted near the town of Center Moriches.  Looking at these photos reminds me that I was painting and crying here on the edge of a river mouth, constantly buffeted by the strong wind.

 

The snow was falling just a week before but on the morning I painted, luckily, the sun was shining with no clouds in sight.  I didn't realize, however, how relentlessly the wind would blow, especially by the ocean.  While painting, I grew very frustrated and almost gave up on it because of the wind.  But now that I managed to finish it, I felt I was able to paint faster and loosely thanks to the wind.

 

Painting en plein air to me is to learn how to capture quickly the very essence of the scene and paint it loosely.  Mother nature.. she always knows best.

 

 

 

  

 

 

Center Moriches, 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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Mexico City Workshop


Bosque de Chapultepec III

 

So I was going to do an outdoor workshop in Mexico City, one of the world's biggest cities.  I have to confess, though, prior to my arrival, I had no idea at all what I could find to paint there.  But I was more excited than worried and I was pleasantly suprised to discover serene beauty inside this megalopolis.

 

Following my demos, my workshop attendees painted varied sights - beautiful lakes, a panoramic view from the hilltop castle, and a street vendor in a park, etc.  The focus throughout the week, however, was on how to paint water and everyone worked very hard trying to nail those elusive reflections.  It was a real pleasure to get to know these artists who came not only from Mexico City but also from other towns.  I would like to thank everyone who helped make my visit to Mexico City such a wonderful experience!

 

 

 

Demo at Chapultepec Castle

 

A lagoon painted from a boat at Xochimilco

 

 

Last demo at Casa del Lago, Bosque de Chapultepec

 

 

Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City III

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

Xochimilco, Mexico I

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Private Collection

 

 

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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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On the Road (5) - China, Chinese Landscape Painting


Guilin, China I

 

Painting en plein air is a great way to learn how to capture the sense of place and its atmosphere quickly.  It is also a great way to take a quick look at life of the people who live there.  I don't know about other plein-air painters but to me, personally, similarities or differences in people's lives that I observe and find in a foreign place are quite intriguing.

 

In China, one thing that I noticed is that more people than in other places I've been to are quite interested in watching me paint.  Some even want to take a photo together with me.  And many of them are young people.  I don't recall such an open display of enthusiasm among the young in other places.  I wonder if this means that watercolor is more commonly practiced or better recognized in this country.  That I don't know but it is very encouraging that the medium attracts the younger generation.  During my painting session by one of the beautiful lakes in Guilin, I had at least a dozen young people who stood by my side to watch.

 

 

Guilin, China

 

Guilin, China I

 

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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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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Hakodate Sunset I, Japanese Landscape Painting


Hakodate Sunset, Japan I

 

A railway station
filled with local accents
I go into the crowd
to listen for mine

 

(by Takuboku Ishikawa, translated by me)

 

For Japanese poet Takuboku Ishikawa (1886-1912), Hakodate had something special that made him say that he would like to die there.  One of the well-known figures in Japanese literature, most notably for his tanka and free-style poems, Takuboku wrote many poems that tug at our heartstrings.

 

He lived for less than half a year in Hakodate in his short, poverty-stricken life of 26 years.  The time he spent there was perhaps the happiest for him thanks to the camaradarie with his colleagues.  He was also reunited with his family there.  His family grave has been set up in Hakodate, near Tachimachi Cape, overlooking the Tsugaru Strait that lies between Honshu and Hokkaido.  To read some of his poems, visit this link (in Japanese).

 

 

Hakodate Sunset, Japan I

 

A large digital file available on request.

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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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

 

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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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Published: My Interview in InSevilla


Sevilla, Spain IX

 

"En Andalucía me siento como en casa"- so I was quoted in the recent interview by a journalist from InSevilla, a digital newspaper of cultural events in Seville, Spain (April 29, 2013).  The article of my interview was just published in time for my watercolor workshop there.  Clearly the interviewer was someone knowledgeable of watercolor painting and there were very good questions.

 

The interview was made possible by my dear friend María José Barrera Garrido, an artist and a teacher who is well respected widely in Seville and its surrounding region.  She is having a watercolor painting exhibition in May at Plaza de Armas in the city of Seville.

 

Since the original article is in Spanish, here are their questions and my answers in English that appeared in Keiko Tanabe, acuarelas universales:

 

InSevilla: In this course (referring to my workshop) you deal with three principal objectives: atmosphere, light and shadow.  Are these keys to a good watercolor?

 

Keiko: When I'm inspired to paint something, what attracts me most is the quality of light and atmosphere in the subject.  I believe that fluidity of the medium of watercolor is perfect to capture that.  In my course, I teach some methods and techniques useful for this effect.  To me, a good watercolor painting is, first, one that shows the artist's full grasp of the medium, and second, one that resonates with the emotions the artist wanted to communicate.  A good painting doesn't have to be impressionistic.

InSevilla: Generally watercolor painting represents realistic landscapes.  Do you think it could be used as well to paint expressionist art, like dreams, nightmares, less figurative art?
 

Keiko: Of course.  In fact, I always think that a painting, in any medium, should speak something about the artist's emotional truth.  Whether it's a realistic landscape or a spiritual abstract painting, an artist should be aware of his inner voice and create a work that transcends a mere depiction of the subject.

InSevilla: Many people say light in Seville and Andalusia is different.  Do you agree with that?  What different features do you see?
 

Keiko: It's so strong and intense that the play of light and shadows often creates a scene that is full of passion and drama.  I only know Andalusia in the summertime so the light may be different in other seasons.  In San Diego, California where I live, I see some similarities in the weather, architecture and other cultural aspects, so I feel at home in Andalusia.

InSevilla: Do you think watercolor painting is valued as it deserves?  It seems it is like a second-level art compared to oil on canvas. 

 

Keiko: In general, that's how it's been perceived in many parts of the world, as I understand.  However, that traditional view may soon be regarded as outdated.  Today, largely thanks to the internet, the world is discovering more than ever many watercolor paintings of high quality.  I am hopeful that will change the general perception of the medium and raise the level of watercolor paintings as a whole.

InSevilla: Basically, what are the pro and cons of watercolor painting versus other techniques?


Keiko: Watercolor is relatively low maintenance because it is portable, odorless and dries fast.  For this reason, it may be best suited to do quick sketches with on location.  Technique-wise, its characteristic of being rather unforgiving may restrict the creativity of an artist.  It may result in having to do careful planning prior to painting.  I feel, however, watercolorists should try to enjoy the process without worrying too much about the result or even take advantage of its elusiveness.

InSevilla: Who are the best watercolor painters now and which artists do you like?  Any Spanish painters?


Keiko: There are many watercolor artists from the past and the present whose methods and styles have inspired and influenced me along the way.  I especially admire artists whose work evokes emotions as if they were soulful music or exciting drama: John Singer Sargent, Robert Wade, Mary Whyte and Alvaro Castagnet, to name a few.  As for Spanish artists, not really a watercolorist but Joaquín Sorolla's works attracted me very much for his figures draped in light.  In watercolor, Laurentino Martí and Manolo Jiménez are among my favorites.  I also want to add that I liked many works exhibited by Spanish artists in the Muestra internacional de acuarela Ciudad de Dos Hermanas (2012).

InSevilla: What is a big mistake that beginner watercolorists should avoid?


Keiko: It is often said that watercolor is the most difficult medium to handle, and that may be true to some degree.  First of all, I would like to tell beginners not to be discouraged by it because it is also very rewarding.  But before learning how to control the fluidity of the medium, I see some beginners needing to spend more time learning how to see things and how to draw.  In my course, I always stress the importance of developing a solid drawing skill and the ability to see perspective, contrast and spatial relationships.

InSevilla: Anything else you would like to say?


Keiko: I am looking forward to coming back to Sevilla soon and sharing the joy of watercolor painting with local artists.  Thank you for your time.

 

 

Sevilla, Spain IX

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 19 x 13 inches (48 x 33 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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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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A Room with a View - Italian Landscape Painting


Sunset, Florence, Italy II

 

A Room with a View - when a young English woman and her cousin/chaperone didn't get a room with a view they had requested at a hotel in Florence, Italy, fellow guests from England, a father and his son, offered to trade their room.  Theirs had a view and the older man believed that "women like looking at a view and men don't."  The view in question was the one with the Arno River and cityscape of this Renaissance city.

 

The movie A Room with a View, based on the novel by E.M. Foster, was beautifully done, making viewers want to visit Florence and, particularly, stay in a room with a view at a hotel - like Pensione Bertolini, the place where the movie starts and ends.  Of course, a room with a view comes with a higher price tag, but in a city like Florence, it's probably worth it.  For a traveling painter, it can also be a perfect place to work.  After breakfast, just open the window and there it is, the first subject of the day.

 

 

Sunset, Florence, Italy II

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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Torrey Pines Beach, San Diego XII, California Landscape Painting


Torrey Pines Beach, San Diego XII

 

It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon and I enjoyed strolling along my favorite beach.  The natural setting around here is so beautiful and I never get tired of visiting here.  In fact every time I come here, it is hard to leave.  Off the coast, surfers were getting good waves that day and they were also having a great time.

 

With the sun almost set and the air quickly cooling down, fog rolled in from the ocean, enveloping the craggy cliffs of the Torrey Pines Reserve.  It was getting chilly, almost time for me to go home -- but the thought didn't seem to come to the minds of some die-hard surfers.  Like they might be waiting for just one more good surfing wave, I found myself looking for an excuse to linger on: I will stay maybe until I see another train.

 

 

Torrey Pines Beach, San Diego, California XII

 

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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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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Kiritappu, Hokkaido I, Japanese Seascape Painting


Kiritappu, Hokkaido, Japan I

 

From the top of the cliff at Cape Kiritappu in eastern Hokkaido, I could see several fishing boats bobbing in rough water.  As its Japanese name implies, the area around here is often foggy but on the day I was there it was mostly clear - only freezing cold.

 

On a small boat three fishermen were hard at work but I couldn't tell what was caught in their nets.  No matter what, their catch must have been of excellent quality.  Hokkaido, Japan's nothernmost island, is surrounded by the three oceans and has the most fertile fishing grounds in the country.  Salmon from there, among others, is no doubt the best in Japan.  If you get a nice cut of salmon next time, eating this dish originally created by Hokkaido fishermen will make you feel like you're there (recipe courtesy of Powderlife).

 

 

Kiritappu, Hokkaido, Japan 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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San Pedro II, California Landscape Painting


San Pedro, California II

 

I like visiting the waterfront area in San Pedro.  A seaside promenade walk while admiring beautiful boats and cruise ships is always nice, but, for me, to see a gigantic industrial zone of the Port of Los Angeles in the background adds a sense of excitement to an otherwise tranquil scene.

 

There's also a working harbor for fishing vessels that I love to paint.  Here's one of my attempts showing some of the hard-working fishing boats anchored for the night.  The sun had just set behind the hills in the back while the fog was rolling in.... it was a golden opportunity for a painting I couldn't pass up.

 

 

 

 

San Pedro, California II

 

Click here for an enlarged view of this painting.

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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La Rochelle II, French Landscape Painting


La Rochelle, France II

 

If anyone wants to paint or learn to draw elegant boats, I'd say, go to La Rochelle.  Signs of heritage and tradition as an important seaside town in the French maritime history are everywhere.  Especially if you approach La Rochelle by boat, you will understand it immediately as you are welcomed by massive medieval towers that were built to protect the town from enemies coming from the sea.  Then you see hundreds of boats and yachts in their ports behind the fortified walls, and beautiful houses of shipbuilders and merchants in their historic old center.  A jewel of all towns dotted along the Bay of Biscay, La Rochelle is a North Atlantic port town with the unique French flair at its best  - a perfect place for francophile maritime painters.

 

 

La Rochelle, France II

 

Click here for an enlarged view of this painting.

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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La Seine, Paris V, French Landscape Painting


La Seine, Paris V

 

Cities like Paris seem to have such charm that they make you dream of things both ordinary and extraordinary.  For instance, thinking of Paris makes me dream of strolling down a street with a baguette in hand or living on a luxurious houseboat on the Seine.

 

In Paris I always enjoy walking along the river banks to see all the boats, especially the ones with their owners living inside.  What a life it must be to wake up to a view of the Eiffel Tower and be able to take your house out to sea!

 

 

La Seine, Paris V

 

Click here for an enlarged view of this painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21.5 x 14.25 inches (54.5 x 36 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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Lago Maggiore IV, Italian Landscape Painting


Lago Maggiore, Italy IV

 

Isola dei Pescatori is an island on Lake Maggiore and easy to get to from the town of Stresa.  It is so small, about 380 meters by 100 meters, we can survey its entire length in a few seconds as our boat approaches the island.

 

As its name implies, there used to be a community of fishermen here.  Compared to nearby islands known for elaborate gardens or a baroque palace, on Isola dei Pescatori, it is still possible to feel traditional way of life from the past.  Although we may see more tourists walking on narrow streets on the island today, old fishing boats left on the shore suggest their traditional occupation is still alive.  Such a charming island on a beautiful lake with an alpine backdrop - the setting is almost like a fairy tale.  Click here to see another painting of this island.

 

 

Lago Maggiore, Italy 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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