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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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Exhibition and Workshop in Milan, Italy


Duomo, Milan, Italy V

 

Milan has been one of my favorite cities in the world ever since I first made a visit a long time ago as a student.  Little did I know then that I might be back for a wonderful exhibition/workshop opportunity one day.

 

Immagini dell'Acqua, the 40th anniversary international watercolor exhibition organized by the Associazione Italiana Aquarellisti (AIA), opened its doors to the public on October 2.  It was a huge honor that I was able to be present there on the opening day, which was a full house, as an invited guest artist of the AIA.  The exhibition demonstrates excellency and brilliance of transparent watercolor works of the AIA members as well as selected works of members of the participating watercolor associations from around the world.   Including Duomo, Mialn, Italy V, I have 4 original paintings on display in the show:  Masquerade, Venice IWinter Morning, Venice, Italy I and Sorrento, Italy VI.

 

For days following the opening, I also had the pleasure of doing live demonstrations for the public and teaching workshops.  I would like to say thank-you to the AIA and everyone who came to my demos/workshops.

 

 

 Opening reception

 

 Workshop

 

 Workshop

 

 Demonstration

 

 Exhibition

 

(Photos courtesy of the AIA, Patrizia Sambri, Guido Tosi, Emmanuele Cammarano, Ros Perucchini)

 

 

 

Duomo, Milan, Italy V

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 21.5 x 29.5 inches (55 x 75 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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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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Huntington Beach Art League Demonstration


Demo, Paris street scene

 

I had the pleasure of spending some time yesterday together with members and guests of the Huntington Beach Art League (HBAL) who invited me to do a demonstration for their September meeting.  It was quite an honor for me, as a watercolorist, to do a watercolor painting demo to an all-media art group such as the HBAL as they kick-start their fall season.

 

I did a demo, showing my process from the beginning to the end, of a street scene with corner cafés in Paris.  I painted this subject from my previous plein-air sketch, and I did so in response to the request of the majority of the group members present at the meeting.

 

I was also honored to judge their September exhibition prior to my demo.  I must say judging a show of a wide range of artwork (oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, photography, mixed media and ceramics) was quite challenging, especially when there was a large number of submissions and some really good ones in each category.

 

I would like to thank the HBAL for their kind invitation and hospitality, and everyone who came to watch my demonstration!  It is always a joy to demonstrate in front of a room full of artists and people who are as enthusiastic as yesterday's crowd.

 

 

Demonstration, Huntington Beach, California

 

 

Cafés, Montparnasse, Paris, France

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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Watercolor Artist October 2014


 

To a painter, a brush is just like a good knife to a chef.  One of my essential tools is a mop brush.  And I am happy to say that an article of me talking about it appears in the October issue of Watercolor Artist magazine.  I used "Central Park II," one of my recent paintings of New York City, to demonstrate how I used a mop brush in this painting.

 

In this issue, I am also honored to be among some of today's finest artists working in watermedia, such as Direk Kingnok (cover artist), George James, Carol Evans, Chizuru Morii Kaplan, Thomas W. Schaller, Andrew Kish III, Ratindra Das, Joyce Hicks, Jane Freeman, Bev Jozwiak and Richard Parkes Bonington.

 

 

 

Central Park, New York City 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: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Have Fun with Your Imagination


Domme, France II

 

When it comes to choosing a subject of plein-air painting, I think I'm fairly easy.   What it means is that I am pretty relaxed about what I can find to paint in most situations, even in a new place in a foreign country.  In a plein-air workshop situation, it is usually a person who organizes this that is more worried than me if I like a particular view or if I see anything that is paintable for my group.  As a realistic painter, I find it somewhat important to be situated in an ideal spot where there is good light and a good view.  However, in my opinion, even the best view is not perfect.  I end up changing a few things in my painting anyway, so I decided some time ago I might as well enjoy the challenge of painting on the spot.

 

Recently, I was visiting a small village of Domme in the region of Dordogne, France.  Many people come to this fortified medieval village for a stunning panoramic view of the Dordogne River and its valley.  I, too, was very inspired to paint the picturesque view.   When I set up and started drawing, I heard a voice inside me that told me to do more than just the valley view.  In my artist's eye, I saw the inclusion of the village in the landscape as a viable option so I moved the entire rock, topped with a few houses, into the view.  I did this in my painting, not for real, of course, but I must say I enjoy this kind of imaginary play quite often.  Inspiration feeds imagination, and imagination helps me visualize the result of my creative effort.  Whether we are a realistic painter or an abstract painter, I think we should all embrace the power of imagination.

 

 

 

Painting in Domme, France

 

 

Domme, France 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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Announcing A New Workshop in California


La Jolla Blvd.

 

"California has been my home for nearly half of my life, and I have spent the majority of the time in San Diego.  California's southernmost city holds a special place in my heart, for it was here that I made a life-giving career change and became a full-time painter.  The abundant beauty of my 'adopted' home has been the inspiration for many watercolor scenes since I started painting in 2005.  Thanks to San Diego's mild climate, I have become an avid plein-air painter and quite often I can be found traipsing its nooks and crannies on a quest for a new setting to paint."

 

I said this in my latest book "PAINTING SAN DIEGO: 100 Plein-Air Watercolors of San Diego Landscapes" (published June 2014).  Even after the book project was completed, I still live up to my words and go out to paint whenever I have a chance at home.

 

"La Jolla Blvd.," another one of those quick outdoor sketches I so enjoy doing, is from a couple of weeks ago to depict warm summer light of Southern California.  For something like this, I usually spend less than an hour from the beginning to the finish.  I often get asked what would be a good way to learn how to paint quickly or loosely.  Speaking from my experience, I can say it is very helpful if you try often working outside and painting from nature.  I believe, through an intimate conversation with nature, you will develop an ability to capture the very essence of what you see and what inspires you.

 

I am happy to announce my new 3-day weekend workshop in Southern California (Westminster, CA, February 20-22, 2015).  This class will be conducted indoors but, in my demonstrations, I will show my thought process as if I am painting outdoors.  If you're interested in attending or have any questions on my workshop, please contact Catalyst

 

 

Painting on location, La Jolla Blvd., San Diego, California

 

 

La Jolla Blvd.

 

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.

 

 

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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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World Watermedia Exposition & Workshop in Thailand


Bangkok Railway Station I


The World Watermedia Exposition in Thailand (WWET) is truly a world-class watercolor event.  In recognition of the importance and popularity of watermedia, the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (Ministry of Culture of Thailand) organized the first international exhibition in Bangkok where 289 watermedia works are currently on view.  116 international artists and 30 Thai artists have been selected to participate in the show which runs until July 20 at the Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center in Bangkok.

 

I was deeply honored to be invited by the Director-General of the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture to participate both in the exhibition and in the workshop that preceded the grand opening of the exhibition.  During the workshop, thirty artists (10 Thai, 20 international) spent a week together painting in Chonburi and Ayutthaya.  For us foreign artists in particular, the entire experience was a big adventure and a great opportunity to get to know Thailand and the Thai people.  I don't know if I can express my gratitude enough for the incredible hospitality and generosity extended to us.  Friendships formed between international artists and Thai counterparts are also an valuable asset resulted from the workshop.

 

I am immensely grateful for the invitation by Mr. Khemchat Thepchai, Director-General, Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture for me to take part in this important watermedia event.  I have no doubt that the whole experience will continue to inspire me for many years to come.

 

 

Painting en plein air at a fishing village, Chonburi (photo courtesy of WWET)

 

A 15-minute portrait session in a fishing village, Chonburi for my new Thai friend

 

Painting en plein air at Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya (photo courtesy of WWET)

 

My painting of Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya has been donated to the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture, Thailand

 

I have Chengyang, China III and Tai-O, Hong Kong IV hung on the wall at the Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center

 

Painting at the Bangkok Railway Station

 

 

Bangkok Railway Station 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: Sold

 

 

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A Week Under the Tuscan Sun, Italian Landscape Paintings


The Watermill at Posara

 

Whenever you mix friendly, adventurous artists, good food and wine, beautiful landscapes and the sun, you can be sure the good times will be had.  These artists may not necessarily know each other at first, but usually it doesn't take long before they start talking to each other as if they were close friends.   My recent workshop experience in the Northern Tuscany was just like that.

 

I was at the Watermill at Posara, a lovely painting holiday venue run by Bill and Lois Breckon, together with 12 artists who came from all over the world to attend my course there.  In the secluded corner of Tuscany, we painted, discussed art, laughed, explored small villages, tasted fine local cuisine, etc...  Needless to say, we were so artistically inspired by the whole experience I think we can be just painting Tuscan scenes for a while from now.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my workshop students, Bill and Lois, people working at the Watermill and all the people we met, from local villagers to market vendors to gelato shop owners, for making it an unforgettable week.

 

I am happy to say that Bill and Lois have invited me to return there in October 2015 to teach another watercolor course.  A 3-day Florence add-on will be also offered to anyone taking my course (For more information, please click this link).

 

Bar, Lucca, Italy

 

Monte dei Bianchi, Italy

 

 

 

Bar, Lucca, Italy

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Private Collection

 

 

Monte dei Bianchi, Italy

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

The Watermill at Posara I

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

 

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NEW BOOK: Painting San Diego, 100 Plein-Air Watercolors of San Diego Landscapes


New book now available

 

I am very pleased to announce that my new art book is now available online.

 

PAINTING SAN DIEGO: 100 Plein-Air Watercolors of San Diego Landscapes is a result of my recent 6-month-long outdoor painting journey through San Diego County, California, my adopted home of 20 years.  The book contains 100 images of never-before-seen watercolors of mine, all painted en plein air between November 2013 and May 2014, photos and descriptions of most locations, plenty of practical tips and several step-by-step demonstrations.  120 pages.

 

Foreword was written by Michael Campos of Campos Photography, a fine art photographer and a dear friend whom I have been working with since 2006.

 

To learn more or order, please visit this link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Plein-Air Painting in Long Island, New York (4) - American Landscape Painting


The Palm, Long Island, New York I

 

The weather was gorgeous.  I really liked the area around East Hampton so I decided to stick around a little to make more paintings that portray beautiful architecture in the area.

 

 

Painting Miss Amelia's Cottage, Amagansett

 

Amagansett I (14"x20")

 

Amagansett II (12"x16")

 

 

 

The Palm, East Hampton, Long Island, New York 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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Plein-Air Painting in Long Island, New York (3) - American Landscape Painting


East Hampton, LI, NY I

 

After completing two waterscapes, I decided to move a bit inland to avoid the chilly wind from the south shore.  I drove past several quaint small towns and some really luxurious houses but other than that, the landscape was mostly rural.

 

This simple country scene that I painted was nothing extraordinary but there was something quite appealing about it.  When I decided to set up to paint there, I had a choice of doing it on this side of the road or on the other.  You can see what I chose and why in the finished painting.

 

I have had people who told me not to include wires in the paintings I did for them.  To me things like electric wires and utility poles can be quite useful to create a flow in the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

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 (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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Central Park, New York City II, American Landscape Painting


 

One of the things I repeatedly tell my students is, before painting, have a plan for your creative process and picture your final picture.  Easier said than done, but isn't it true that this is so easy to forget?  Maybe we are too eager to paint.  Maybe we don't think it's that important.  Or we think a painting has to be done intuitively - we are artists after all, right?  Please read this:

 

Seasoned athletes use vivid, highly detailed internal images and run-throughs of the entire performance, engaging all their senses in their mental rehearsal, and they combine their knowledge of the sports venue with mental rehearsal.  World Champion Golfer, Jack Nicklaus has said: "I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head."  (Angie LeVan)

 

I believe this is an important skill for watercolor painters as well.  When we overlook this step and start painting, we may find ourselves confused sooner or later, and end up feeling stuck.  What happens afterwards is not likely to be a good painting (but I could be totally wrong and it may be a true masterpiece!).  I say this because once we lose the flow, the energy in a painting is lost.  We need to keep it throughout the process for that is really what makes our painting alive. 

 

 

Central Park, New York City 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: 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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Springtime in North Carolina, American Landscape Painting


Springtime in North Carolina

 

Warm weather and springtime flowers welcomed me in Western North Carolina last week.  Hills and streets around the Asheville/Hendersonville area are dotted with fruit trees like cherry, pear, peach with fast-blooming flowers.  And lovely tulips, daffodills and many other flowers add delightful colors to the landscape.

 

Blessed with the gorgeous weather each day, my plein-air workshop students and I were happy campers and we enjoyed a wonderful week painting at Kanuga, a beautiful lake-side conference center near Hendersonville.

 

Here's one of my demos of a very tall weeping cherry tree that was just in front of my workshop room.  Pinkish white flowers hanging from this magnificent tree, against the blue sky and a deep green cabin, were so pretty.  It was a perfect subject to convey the joy brought on by the arrival of much-awaited spring.

 

 

 

 

Springtime in North Carolina

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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Mexico City Paintings


Mexico City, Mexico I

 

I heard that Mexico City is huge.  But it is really convincing when your airplane flies over this densely-populated city for what it seemed like an eternity and you see just houses upon houses as far as your eyes could see all the way to the horizon.  You have to see it to believe it.

 

During my workshop week in Mexico City recently, my host and her family showed me many corners of this megalopolis that 20+ million people call home.  No matter where you go, chances are that you spend a considerable amount of time in a car in this city, given its sheer size and population.  Well, that part didn't bother me much as that is not too different from how I live in California.  Or even better because I was able to enjoy looking out my car window (my friend drove), and I also enjoyed a conversation with those riding with me. 

 

Here are some paintings I made of the Mexican capital that reflect slices of their daily life.  Notice many cars?

 

Mexico City, Mexico II

 

Mexico City, Mexico III

 

 

Mexico City, Mexico 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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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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From Plein-Air Sketch to Studio Painting


En plein air (Photo by J. Villain)

 

About nine years ago, I started out both as a plein-air painter and as a studio artist.  As a watercolorist who paints in both environments, I have come to realize that there are unique qualities in each type of work.

 

A painting done on location is my direct response to the landscape.  I attempt to capture the whole experience of being there.  For that purpose, I need to concentrate intensely to work fast.  I so enjoy getting absorbed in the environment when the inspiration cannot be any fresher.  As a result, the painting may look looser, more simplified or sketchy, and perhaps more impressionistic.

 

Sometimes I may not completely finish the work outdoors because I feel it's already served a purpose.  Or sometimes I just have to quit because of unexpected elements such as a sudden change of weather.  Certain challenges and limitations that come with working in the great outdoors may make the end result rather hit-or-miss.  Regardless, any work I do outside has certain qualities that I really like.  The atmosphere and energy of the place is captured in the raw if I may put it that way.

 

En plein air, I like to use the paper size smaller than 18x24 inches (46x61cm) and spend less than an hour to complete a piece.  The format of a studio painting, on the other hand, can be larger so the work tends to be a bit more controlled and detailed.  In the studio, especially when there's no time contraints, I can take time to plan my approach to the subject.  I can even make some preliminary compositional work to think out my process and try to eliminate, if any, potential problems beforehand.  I can say there is probably a bit more room for creativity to be explored in the studio while the plein-air work is more direct and intuitive.

 

When I work in the studio, sometimes I use my plein-air sketch as a source of reference.  It can be supported by photos or memory but to me a plein-air sketch probably works best to remember the feel of the place.  In fact, it is really the initial idea or inspiration captured in the plein-air work that is important.  Starting from there, I can think more about overall composition and relationships of colors, values and shapes to retell an original story, hopefully, in a more refined manner.

 

Read related posts: here (Bucharest, Romania) and here (Venice, Italy) and look at some of the examples from Italy below.  If you're interested in painting in the beautiful region of Tuscany, Italy, why don't you join me there in May?  My watercolor painting workshop at the Watermill was fully booked but has just recently one spot opened up.  I look forward to meeting you there!

 

 

"Firenze, Italy I" (29x21 cm) - plein air

 

"Firenze, Italy IX" (55x36 cm) - studio

 

"Cortona VIII" (29x39 cm) - plein air

 

"Cortona, Italy X" (55x75 cm) - studio

 

 

 

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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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Judging the San Diego Watercolor Society Member Show


"Light and Delight" (poster)

 

I was honored to serve as a juror for the February Member Exhibition of the San Diego Watercolor Society, "Light and Delight."

 

So many beautiful entries did not make it easy for me to choose less than half of what was submitted.  Bravo to all who got in the show and congratulations to award-winners!

 

The SDWS created a wonderful poster for the show with my painting Flamenco Dancer III.  If you are in the San Diego area, be sure to visit their gallery to see the show (runs until February 28).

 

 

 

 

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Recent Magazine Features


Bucharest, Romania I

 

I am deeply honored to have my work featured in the 2014 March issue of Artists & Illustrators (published by Chelsea Magazine Co., Ltd., United Kingdom).  Ms. Jenny White gave me an interview for my article.  She asked me a lot of great questions about my thoughts on painting watercolor as well as teaching it.  I hope you will enjoy reading it if you have a chance.

 

Thanks to the article, one of my street scene paintings included in it "Bucharest, Romania I (2012)" saw the light of day.  This work reminds me of my visit to this delightful city where I just walked around, sketched, took some photos without any itinerary to speak of.  When I was in the historic center and saw this view of a street with a domed building in the back, I knew I'd paint it.  Here are some sketches and a photo of the street.

 

 

 

From my travel sketchbook

 

 

(photo) Historic center of Bucharest

 

 

In December 2013, I was one of the watercolor painters featured in Pratique des Arts, Hors série aquarelle (published by CapElitis Groupe, France).  An 8-page article written by Ms. Stéphanie Portal who interviewed me includes a step-by-step demo of a painting of Ine, a small fishing village of Kyoto, Japan.  For this article, too, I was asked some thought-provoking questions.  I also gave some practical tips on plein-air painting.  I am hugely honored for the recognition.

 

 

 

Covers of two magazines where my work was featured recently

 

 

 

Bucharest, Romania I

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Chasing the Light in Palm Desert, California Landscape Painting


Palm Desert, California I

 

I often find myself heading out to paint during the golden hour to capture soft, warm sunlight.  The quality of light is what I'm after and it is just fantastic especially for a lovely atmospheric painting.  But, if you have ever attempted doing this, you know how rapidly the golden-hour light changes it can make the whole landscape look totally diferent within a matter of minutes.  If only we could keep the beautiful light as long as we need to finish our painting!

 

To deal with that elusiveness, I try to remember the first impression and work with it throughout the end.  This visualization is important.  Our eyes may keep chasing the light but our mind's eye should see something that's fixed.  Otherwise, the end result of our painting will be utterly confusing.

 

I had an opportunity to paint recently in Palm Desert, California on a balmy afternoon.  Take a look at the photos below (sorry they are so small) and focus on the lighted area in the back.  It all happened within an hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palm Desert, California 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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Plein-Air Demo at the Bernardo Winery, California Landscape Painting


Bernardo Winery, San Diego II

 

For plein-air painters, especially those who work in watercolor, the weather is the most crucial factor for a pleasant experience.  Too often, it is too hot, too cold, too windy, too dry, too wet, etc... well, we had none of those complaints on the day of the Saturday paint-out because the weather was perfect in every sense.

 

I was happy to be invited as a demonstrator for a plein-air painters' group from the San Diego Watercolor Society.  The location chosen for their January get-together was Bernardo Winery.  I really liked the rustic feel of the place and found it quite interesting that is actually located in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  For my demo, I painted a view of the vineyard with the mountain in the background.  Then everyone chose their subjects and spent the rest of the morning painting.   I couldn't resist making another painting of a different corner of the winery  - and why not paint the painters? - I included some of them in the piece (See "Saturday Pain-Out").

 

Click here to read about the paint-out on the blog of the San Diego Watercolor Society.

 

 

Saturday Paint-Out, Bernardo Winery

 

 

Saturday Paint-Out, Bernardo Winery

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Purchase: Sold

 

 

 

 

Bernardo Winery, San Diego, California II

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

 

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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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Shenzhen Watercolour Biennial


Yangshuo Sunset, China II

 

In response to the call to the artists worldwide, 2,825 entries had poured in from 54 different countries from all corners of the globe for the First International Watercolour Biennial.  After the final round of judging by an international panel of renowned jurors, about 200 pieces of watermedia works were selected to be on display at the Shenzhen Art Museum in Guangdong Province in southern China.  December the 10th, 2013 marked the official opening of the exhibition, and I was deeply honored to attend the opening ceremony together with some of the exhibiting artists who traveled there.

 

I am pleased that "Sunset, Florence, Italy I" was juried into this prestigious show, which runs until January 10, 2014 at the same venue.  Selected paintings are scheduled to tour inside China in the following year at eight different locations.

 

 

 

Yangshuo Sunset, China I

 

 

Yangshuo Sunset, 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.

 

 

 

Yangshuo Sunset, China II

 

A large digital file available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 9 x 13 inches (23 x 33 cm)

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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On the Road (6) - China, Chinese Landscape Paintings


Yangshuo, China II

 

Traveling somewhere with plein-air painting as a primary purpose requires an itinerary definitely different from a typical sightseeing trip.  For one thing, in a totally new environment in a foreign country, it normally takes a day or two just to know the ropes.  So something as simple as finding a good place to paint that's safe and convenient to get to can be a big task.  After spending some time scouting for such a place and managing a painting or two, chances are that a good part of a day is already gone and perhaps you're too tired to go sightseeing or shopping.

 

In Yangshuo County, a popular destination in the northeast Guangxi Province in China, I stayed for some time just to paint.  That is, no rock climbing or cave tours for me, but I had a blast painting to my heart's content.  I painted from a balcony of my hotel room, by the river, on the street.  I even rented a bike to go deep into the coutryside for really marvelous rural landscapes. 

 

 

Painting from a hotel balcony

 

Yangshuo, China I

 

 

Yangshuo, China I

 

A large digital file available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

Yangshuo, China 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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