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Vigilucci's Bar IV, Interior Painting

 

Vigilucci's Bar IV

 

 

When I think about why I don't get tired of painting interior scenes such as this, first I find myself eagerly attracted to the relaxing ambiance.  So what creates the relaxing ambiance?  To me, as a painter, it is bar lighting, before anything, that plays an important role.  A warmly illuminated bar, a cafe with mirrored walls, a restaurant with beautifully-decorated lighting fixtures… they can be an instant inspiration for my next painting.

Vigilucci's is one of those places.  Although this bar sounds Italian, it is not in Italy.  It's actually in San Diego, halfway around the globe from the land of Amaretto and Grappa.  But the owner is from Italy, and he and his interior designer created a bar area within an Italian restaurant that is filled with elegant and expensive lighting fixtures directly imported from Italy.


Vigilucci's Bar IV


Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Andalucia, Spain II, Spanish Landscape Painting


Andalucia, Spain II

 

This painting was in my private collection for a while and has just sold to someone who is moving to the Andalusia region of Spain.  It is such an incredible honor for me that the new owner likes it so much he'd like to take it with him halfway around the globe.  But what is equally touching for me is that I never thought this painting would some day return to the place where I got the inspiration to create it.

Sometimes I really feel my painting has a mind of its own.  It's hard to explain, but there are times I feel my paintings have a power to make their own decisions.  Recently, for example, there were three people wanting a particular painting of mine.  There were tons of emails going back and forth among us and in about a month the third person became its owner.  I don't think I had any control over the whole situation, which was pretty strange from the beginning till the end.  But it seemed to me things happened the way they did and that the painting couldn't have been happier with the outcome.

This time, too, another of my paintings made its own decision.  "Andalucia, Spain II" has decided that it wants to go home where the original inspiration came from.  Again, I never, ever dreamed of this turn of events.  I had no clue.  Do I sound like a parent of a child leaving home?  But I know instinctively when my paintings are the happiest, like this time, and I am happy for you, too, Andalucia II.

Please read A Mirage in Andalusia, a blog post about my travel experience in the south of Spain, which inspired me to make this painting.


Andalucia, Spain II

 

Click here for an enlarged view.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14 x 21 inches
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Paris (#14) - Dimanche Matin, French Landscape Painting

 

Paris (#14) - Dimanche Matin

 

 

Early Sunday morning.  It's a rare sight that a major thoroughfare in the heart of Paris looks this empty.  Light, however, has already filled everywhere, inspiring me to paint it.

Locals and tourists may still be sleeping.  And auto commuters are staying in the suburbs today.  A lone bicyclist must be feeling like king of the castle (or at least that's how I'd feel) as if he was in the last stretch of the Tour de France about to cross the finish line before the peloton arrived.

 


Paris (#14) - Dimanche Matin

 

A larger image of this painting is available on request.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Paris (#13) - Newsstand, French Landscape Painting

 

Paris (#13) - Newsstand

 

 

This small newsstand (librairie-papeterie) in a residential neighborhood in Paris sells all kinds of newspapers and magazines.  But do people read newspaper any more?  When it is so easy and quick for many people to get the latest news online, the print version has been struggling in France, too.

That's why their President Nicolas Sarkozy announced last year a plan to give every 18-year-old a free subscription to a newspaper of their choice for one year.  That's a unique birthday present!  I wonder how it has been received by the young people in France? 

Sadly, I think we already know the wave of the future is only going to get stronger.  I wonder how long this newsstand will be here in business?  I was feeling a bit of nostalgia while painting this street scene.


Paris (#13) - Newsstand

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Lisbon Café, Portugal VIII, Interior Painting


Lisbon Café VIII

 

I have painted the interior of this historic cafe in Lisbon several times before.  Although each time the focal point may be different, the inspiration is essentially the same - the play of light.  This time, I concentrated my efforts more on that aspect the whole time I was working on this piece.

While painting, there are many things an artist has to be thinking about (shapes, colors, values, edges, light/shadow, warm/cool, etc.) and sometimes the fun may be taken away from the very act of painting when the artist gets too preoccupied with all these elements.  I certainly happens to me.

By making a conscious effort just to focus on one aspect out of many (and hoping the rest will cooperate), I had so much fun making today's painting.


Lisbon Café, Portugal VIII

 

Click here for an enlarged view.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see more Portuguese/Spanish landscape/cityscape paintings.

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Paris (#12) - Poissonnerie, French Landscape Painting

 

Paris (#12) - Poissonnerie

 

 

April is around the corner, and April Fool's Day may be on your mind.  Are you usually the one who plans a prank or you tend to be on a receiving end of it?  If you happen to be in France on April 1, and hear someone say "Poisson d'avril (Fish of April)!" behind you, you've been pranked.

On a street in the Montmartre district, I found this poissonnerie (fish monger) with strikingly blue awnings.  It was late in the afternoon but the business was already finished for the day at this shop, as the owner was washing the glass cases.  Coming from a culture with a diet rich in fish (Japan), I would have been really interested to see what kind of fish he had.

It's been said that the more fish you eat, the better it is for your memory.  If you feel like cooking fish tonight, French-style, maybe you like this recipe (red snapper cooked in thyme-flavored salt).  It looks very easy and the pictures on the site are beautiful, too.  Bon Appétit!


Paris (#12) - Poissonnerie

A larger image of this painting is available on request.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Paris (#11) - Crêperie, French Landscape Painting

 

As soon as this sweet smell hit my nose, I knew I was near a crêperie.  Around the corner, there it was, a crêpe restaurant with red umbrellas.  While a crêpe can be bought from a street vendor and eaten right away, it is nice sometimes to sit down in a restaurant to have it as a meal and/or a dessert.

The sheer number of crêperies in Paris alone says a lot about how popular crêpes are here.  They are simple, quick and delicious -- it's hard to resist the temptation of this warm, savory, classy fast food.  In fact I think these are also important ingredients for a watercolor painting that is loose and luminous: simple (design), quick (brushstrokes), and delicious (juicy colors).


          

To paint loose, think crêpe.                 Finish.


Paris (#11) - Crêperie

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in. (on 12 x 9 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Paris (#10) - Vélib', French Landscape Painting

 

Paris (#10) - Vélib'

 

 

Thanks to a public bicycle sharing system called vélo libre (Vélib' for short), there are thousands of bicycles available for use all over Paris nowadays.  It takes no time to notice quite a lot of people, both Parisians and visitors, take advantage of sturdy bicycles provided by the city, and they are riding practically everywhere.  This is quite a change from pre-Vélib’ days (that's only 3 or 4 years ago) when not so many two wheelers were in the Paris streetscape.

When I spotted these two Vélib’ users chatting in the morning light, they were barely out of the massive shadow of the Notre-Dame cathedral.  Amused by a scene with the old and the new sights of Paris, I made a quick sketch of it.  That was not a bad way of killing time while waiting in an already long line to go up to the cathedral towers.

 


Paris (#10) - Vélib'

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Martini Bar I, Interior Painting

 

Martini Bar I

 

 

This painting is in stark contrast to another bar painting I posted a few days ago (Paris (#9) - Bar).

In my previous piece, sunlight seemed to fill every nook and cranny of the interior of a bar.  In Martini Bar, on the other hand, it was night time, and dim lights inside were not reaching far.  Limited amount of light obscured what our eyes could see in bright daylight, leaving much more to our imagination.  This tiny bar was inside an Italian restaurant in North County, one of San Diego suburbs.

One martini is alright, two is too many, three is not enough. -- James Thurber

 


Martini Bar I

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in. (on 12 x 9 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Paris (#9) - Bar, Interior Painting


Paris (#9) - Bar

 

It was Friday afternoon.  The outdoor terrace of this bar was popular as it always is on a sunny day like this.  A couple of businessmen opted to stay indoors, however.  Still, with large windows allowing the sunlight to pour in, they must have felt as if they were outside, too.

Not quite mobbed by a happy-hour crowd yet, this bar still maintained a quiet ambiance.  So it was ideal for them to discuss an important business deal.  Or, were they talking about a golf weekend in the countryside?

 

 

 

Paris (#9) - Bar

 

Click here for an enlarged view.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in. (on 12 x 9 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Milano, Italy X, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Milano, Italy X

 

 

There was something special about being at Piazza del Duomo, the main square right in front of Milan cathedral, at sunset time.  There was an air of sophistication.  Even the quality of light had a sense of urban stylishness.  Could it be due to some kind of illusion because Milan is Italy's fashion capital?  In my opinion, Milan does look chic because people here really pay attention to their fashion.

Fashion Director of the UK's Daily Telegraph says, "Evident from the catwalks in Milan," 2010 Fall/Winter is "all about covering up in style."  For those of us who could use a little help in the fashion department, let's take some cues from her.  Here's what will be hot next season: military; biker; Highlander; chalet-style; Tomb Raider; Cossack; kilts/pleats; hoods; peplum jackets; shorts; gold; zips; boot-cuts/flares; cut-outs; stretch tailoring; across-the-body bags; fishtail skirts; velvet; needle heels; neat-handled bags; knee-high socks, walking boots.  Well, I guess I have to learn first what some of these words mean...


Milano, Italy X


Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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2010 Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolour Biennial Exhibition


 

I am excited to learn that two paintings of mine, including "Marseille St-Charles," have been juried into the 2010 Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolour Biennial Exhibition (new official website), to be held from April 15 through October 31 in the Quanhua Watercolour Art Gallery, Shanghai, China.

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Paris (#8) - Corner Café, French Landscape Painting

 

Paris (#8) - Corner Cafe

 

 

Although I've been talking about how I paint from time to time, it is not my intention to show you there's a set approach to my painting style.  It would be easier for me if I knew steps to follow, but honestly, I'm not even aware of what I am doing while painting - how dare I write "How I Paint" posts!

I may stick to one method of painting for some time, especially after it worked for the first time.  Finding a comfort zone encourages me but I also know a part of me always wants to explore other possibilities.  Not that I actually try a different approach every time, I've learned that being in a comfort zone will soon begin to feel uncomfortable for me.

A few years ago, my main approach was to work from light to dark, gradually layering in washes for darker tonal values.  Lately, I've found myself working on both light and dark values right from the start.  This painting is an example of that approach.



  Working simultaneously on both light and dark values.


  Putting in details to finish.



Paris (#8) - Corner Café

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Pacific Coast Highway II, California Landscape Painting

 

Pacific Coast Highway II

 

 

It it quite relaxing to watch subtle changes of colors of the sunset sky.  Adding the soothing sound of waves makes the experience even more unforgettable.

Continuing a drive from Santa Monica toward Malibu along the Pacific Coast Highway, I couldn't help stopping at one of the beaches for that precious experience.  And I'm glad I did.

 


Pacific Coast Highway II

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Pacific Coast Highway I, California Landscape Painting

 

Pacific Coast Highway I

 

 

I was in West Los Angeles for a meeting with a client recently.  Not really in the mood for a long drive back to San Diego right after that, I decided to make a quick detour to see the sunset near Santa Monica.  In fact, I would have liked to visit my old neighborhood of Westwood as well, but there was not enough time for that.  Maybe on my next trip.

This painting is a northbound view on the Pacific Coast Highway, just north of Santa Monica.  A wet road and a pinkish orange sky suggests that we had a rather interesting day, weatherwise, in Los Angeles. 



Pacific Coast Highway I

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Roma, Italia XXVII, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XXVII

 

When I wanted to paint this scene, I was most attracted to how the lines were forming an interesting design already.  Long, vertical lines of buildings on both sides of a narrow alley and diagonal lines of shadows cast on the incredibly bright yellow walls seemed to be melting into the dark shadows on the ground.

Then, there was a small outdoor café.  When it's so hot it feels like roads are literally melting, there's no doubt in my mind that everyone will love granita di caffe (sweetened coffee slush) – con panna (topped with whipped cream), of course.  

 

 

 

Roma, Italia XXVII

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in. (on 12 x 9 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Paris (#7) - Gare du Nord, French Landscape Painting

 

Paris (#7) - Gare du Nord

 

 

The North Station (Gare du Nord) is one of the terminus railway stations in Paris.  It looks magnificent, from any angle, so I made another painting of it, this time from a different side of the structure (Click to view a step-by-step demo of my first painting, Paris North Station).

I got off here when I arrived in Paris by train for the first time.  Old apartment complexes, graffitti-covered walls, billboards, industrial zones...  What I saw, as my train began to slow down before reaching this station, was a little glance at the northern suburban Paris.  I must say it didn't prepare me much for what I would see later on in the city.

The moment I stepped out of the train, swallowed by waves of people, the Gare du Nord welcomed me with her majestic and classy grandeur -- an exciting moment for a traveler.


Paris (#7) - Gare du Nord


A larger image of this painting is available on request.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Venice Canal VIII, Venice Italy Painting


Venice Canal VIII

Could the couple walking toward me be honeymooners?  The sun was blinding me so I couldn't tell but I had a feeling they probably were.

According to Modern Bride magazine, the five most popular honeymoon cities are Paris, Venice, Honolulu, San Francisco and Sydney.  In other similar surveys as well, Venice is almost always one of the top travel destinations for honeymooners.  It comes as no surprise because Venice is such a romantic city no other places can be easily a match.

For an ultimate honeymoon experience in Venice, how about taking the Simplon Orient Express luxury train from London all the way to Venice and staying at the splendid Hotel Cipriani?  A one-way train ticket $3,120 per person (overnight).  A suite (the cheapest) with a lagoon view $3,300 per night.  (Sigh…)  Venice can also be very expensive.


Venice Canal VIII

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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