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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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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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Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy


Santa Maria della Salute V

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy V

 

Click for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

 

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Al Ponte di Rialto, Venice II, Italian Landscape Painting


Al Ponte di Rialto, Venice II

 

My travel sketchbooks vary in size but my favorites are 8.5"x5.5" or 12"x9".  If my primary purpose of going somewhere is solely to paint, I, of course, carry with me all the plein-air painting gear, a tripod and a watercolor block of much larger size up to 18"x24, " which can be quite a handful.

 

If I want to visit a place first, I like the portability of my small sketchbook just to make quick studies in whenever and wherever I want.  And I do this sometimes with just lines, or sometimes with a few colors.  My 12"x9" is actually a watercolor paper pad, and I make a pencil drawing on it with an intention of painting it there or later.  Today's painting evolved from such a drawing done on site.

 

 

From my sketchbook - always a good reference

 

 

 

Al Ponte di Rialto, Venice, Italy II

 

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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Al Ponte di Rialto, Venice I, Italian Landscape Painting


Al Ponte di Rialto, Venice I

 

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

 

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

 

 

Al Ponte di Rialto, Venice, Italy I

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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Fish Market, Venice, Italy I, Interior Painting


Fish Market, Venice I

 

Being an artist, by and large, is a solitary profession but it is good to get together with other like-minded artist friends from time to time.  When I do, I may paint with them, visit an exhibition, attend an opening, exchange information and ideas or share a meal.  Whatever that may be, the experience can be really inspiring and uplifting.

 

Last year, I spent some time in Venice, Italy, painting together with my artist friend, Eugen Chisnicean.  We did a lot of painting en plein-air in many spots in the city, and made a book VENICE AND VERONA with those paintings, including "Fish Market I."  I will also have the pleasure of exhibiting with him as invited guests of honor at the 12th Rencontres Artistiques du Val d'Anglin in Bélâbre, France later this year.  A 4-day workshop by each of us is also being planned during the exhibition.

 

 

"VENICE AND VERONA" available via my bookstore at Blurb

 

 

Fish Market, Venice, Italy 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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San Giorgio, Venice II, Italian Landscape Painting


San Giorgio, Venice II

 

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

 

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

 

 

San Giorgio, Venice, Italy II

 

Click for an enlarged view.

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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San Giorgio, Venice I, Italian Landscape Painting


San Giorgio, Venice I

 

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

 

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

 

 

San Giorgio, Venice, Italy I

 

Click for an enlarged view.

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

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Fish Market, Venice, Italy II, Interior Painting


Fish Market, Venice II

 

One thing watercolorists should never forget when painting outdoors is a bottle of water.  Water to paint with, that is.  I always pack a bottle for painting and another for drinking.  But when we are outdoors, we often face a situation where we need more clean water than we brought.  Sometimes it's readily available but sometimes we have to look really hard.

 

I have used water from a kitchen of a nearby restaurant, somebody's backyard, a sprinkler head in a public park, a canal, a mountain stream, etc.  Sometimes a friend who's painting with me spared some.  Here at Mercato del Pesce, a fish market by the Rialto bridge in Venice, a kind fisherman saw me with an empty brush container, and poured water from the hose he was using to clean his fish.

 

 

Fish Market, Venice, 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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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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Loving You the Way I Do by Ron Savage


My art on cover of Mr. Savage's new book

 

I am pleased that my watercolor "Torino, Italy II" was chosen as the cover art for Loving You the Way I Do, a new book by Ron Savage (ISBN: 978-0-9826364-3-5; Black Lawrence Press, New York).  The book is now available online.

 

"We don't love each other the way we'd like.  We love each other the way we do." - Ron Savage

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artmatch4U October Artist of the Month


Roma, Italia XLI

 

I am honored that Cindy Salaski, the founder of artmatch4U and a very versatile artist herself, has chosen my work to be featured on her comprehensive art website this month.  As October Artist of the Month, I have three of my paintings published.  Thank you, Cindy - it was such a pleasure working with you for this feature article.

 

 

Roma, Italia XLI

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 55 x 74 cm

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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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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Morning, Piazza San Marco II, Venice Italy Painting


Morning, P.San Marco, Venice II

 

Judging from how crowded Piazza San Marco always is, an astronomical number of people must visit Venice's main square each day.  Ironically, however, they go to the square but not see the square.  The Basilica, the Campanile and other elegant buildings that surround Piazza San Marco - they are always in plain sight.  And most visitors stand or sit inside the square to marvel at the magnificent architecture around them while their small children, if any, chase the pigeons.

 

But what kind of pavement is laid there on the floor?  What about the design work?  Not many people actually remember simply because they couldn't see it.  Here's a tip.  There's a small window of opportunity to admire the square itself if you get up early in the morning before tourists start arriving around 8am.  Yes, chi dorme non piglia pesci (the early bird catches the worm) but I also know, tra il dire e il fare c'è di mezzo il mare (it's easier said than done).

 

 

Morning, Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy II

 

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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Trattoria V, Venice Italy Painting


Trattoria, Venice V

 

It is the quality of light that makes the brief period of time before sunrise and sunset so attractive.  When the sun is low on the horizon, light is soft and diffused, blending lighted areas and shadowy areas nicely.  It has such a soothing effect that most of us respond to this type of lighting very positively.

 

Landscape painters and photographers have known this as "golden hour" and think this is the ideal light condition to work in.  Colors look richly saturated and it is easier to capture the true atmosphere of a place in soft light.

 

A downside may be that golden hour doesn't occur at the most convenient time of the day.  We have to be an early riser and sometimes forget about breakfast.  As for the afternoon event, unless we plan well ahead of time, it is so easy to miss it.   Around the time before sunset, we are often so caught up in routine daily activities that we find it hard to drop everything and get ready to capture that perfect image.  So it does take some sacrifice to fully take advantage of this magical hour but it is definitely worth it.

 

 

Trattoria, Venice, Italy V

 

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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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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Firenze XI, Italian Landscape Painting


Firenze, Italy XI

 

Around this time of the year, Calcio Storico is the talk of the town in Florence, Italy.  For several days, Piazza Santa Croce is the place of this uniquely florentine sport event.  Calcio can be described as a combination of football, soccer and rugbybut it's more than a sport event; it's a huge festival.  With players in historical costume, four teams representing four districts in the city play against each other until they have a winner on June 24.

 

 

Piazza Santa Croce was packed with an enthusiastic crowd watching a calcio tournament under the sun.  It's really something to be part of it but, for a painter, it's nice to escape from it all to a quieter side of Arno River and enjoy beautiful hillside, flowers and a gelato.

 

 

Firenze, Italy XI

 

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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Napoli II, Italian Landscape Painting


Napoli, Italy II

 

To anyone traveling to Italy, I won't hesitate to say, "Italy is so beautiful, wonderful, magical; you'll have the time of your life; have fun."  I don't think anyone will come back later and blame me for being a liar because, most likely, it's true.  In fact, before I go to Italy, friends tell me the same things.

 

Before my planned visit to Naples, however, more than a fair share of my friends said something along the lines of "Be careful"  rather than "have a great time!"  It got me worried a little but I had a great time there anyway.

 

OK, I won't sugarcoat the reality of  problems of Naples (but which city doesn't have any problems?) and I did feel a little more tension in the air and find the city to be a little bit more chaotic (all those scooters coming out of everywhere) than many other places in Italy but, if you allow me, I say that's part of their charm.  Neapolitans showed me the human side of Italy and I loved it even more for that.

 

 

Napoli, Italy II

 

Click here for an enlarged view of this painting.

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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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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Lago Maggiore III, Italian Landscape Painting


Lago Maggiore, Italy III

 

I was looking out the window from a train into Northern Italy when I had a glimpse of the picturesque town of Stresa by Lake Maggiore.  I remember the amazing colors of blue green water as a backdrop of red, sun-lit roofs of the houses and lush green landscape there.  From the fast-moving train I was able to enjoy the almost dream-like view for only a few seconds, but the image was so ingrained in my mind I was determined to get off a train there if I ever had another chance.

 

A few years later, very unexpectedly my wish came true and I did have an opportunity of returning to the Lake District in Italy.  I went to Stresa as I had planned, and even ventured out further to visit Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen's Island), one of the islands on the lake...

 

 

Lago Maggiore, Italy III (Isola dei Pescatori)

 

Click here for an enlarged view of this painting.

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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My Workshop in Dallas, Texas


Firenze XII

 

When they talk about the Texas hospitality, they are telling the truth.  It was such a pleasure working with 27 very enthusiastic artists who took my workshop in Dallas this past week.  Most of them were from the Dallas area and members of the Southwestern Watercolor Society (SWS), but some students traveled from other cities and states.  I was delighted to learn some of them had been following my art online for several years.  I also did a demo for the members of the SWS at their monthly meeting on Wednesday night.  Cheryl Devoto, one of the local artists whom I had the pleasure of meeting in California a few years back, was in the audience.  She kindly and graciously wrote a blog post about my visit to Dallas (here's a link to her blog).

 

My sincere thank-you to the Southwestern Watercolor Society for having me and to everyone in my workshop - I thoroughly enjoyed painting with you!

 

"Firenze, Italy XII" is one of the demos I did for my class as an exercise.

 

To see my workshop schedule for the rest of 2012, click here.

 

 

Firenze, Italy XII

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 20 x 14 inches

Frame/Mat: No

Purchase: Sold

 

 

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Cortona IX, Italian Landscape Painting


Cortona, Italy IX

 

Some sleepy villages became well-known to the outside world after being discovered by travelers who got off the beaten path and wrote about them.  Some went from virtually unknown to known to the general public after a movie was filmed there.  The story of Cortona was the latter case: after a popular movie, tourism to this small Tuscan hilltop village grew significantly.

 

According to the genius of a place, while some of the changes have been welcomed by locals, economical and social impact of tourism has brought more challenges.  For one thing, they said, foreigners are willing to pay much higher real estate prices, forcing many locals to sell their homes and move to outlying areas.  As a result, the number of year-round residents in the historic city center has decreased from its peak in the 1960s of 5,000 to 2,000 today.

 

They also noted that stores on the main street, which once served residents' needs, have yielded their locations to eateries, art galleries, jewelry stores, boutiques and souvenir shops that cater to tourists.  No one can predict how the future unfolds for this Tuscan gem but it is comforting to find a scene, as the one in this painting, that hasn't changed much since the medieval times.

 

 

Cortona, Italy IX

 

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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Living Like Sunflowers


Cortona, Italy VIII

 

If we are artists by profession, it's because we want and need to create and we take it seriously.  So we get up every morning and create just like office workers commute to their workplace each day - this is what we do, or is it really?

 

Artists are not machines that can crank out quality products regularly.  Regardless of our level of experience, we do get hit by some sort of creative block once in a while.  I had my share during my not-so-long artistic career.  Each time it happened, it was quite a struggle but, gladly, I was able to see it pass somehow.  In fact I have just had a pretty bad case that lasted a long time.  The thought that it might never end was scary, to say the least.

 

An artistic journey is a bumpy road.  Sometimes we forget that but it is very important to keep doing what we love no matter what the obstacles.

 

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.  It's what sunflowers do."  -- Helen Keller

 

 

Cortona, Italy VIII

 

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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Japan Watercolor Society Second Exhibition in Yokohama


Le Panier, Marseille, France I

 

I am pleased to announce that I have two paintings, "Le Panier, Marseille, France I" and "Orvieto, Italy VII" included in the Second Exhibition of the Japan Watercolor Society (JWS).  The show starts on February 1 and ends on February 7.

 

All the paintings hung in the show are original watercolor works by 24 members of the JWS.

 

 

Venue: Gallery Dada, Yokohama Sogo Department Store 9th Floor, Yokohama, Japan

 

Merchandise: Two sets of postcards (with images of artwork of the exhibitors) available for sale at the Gallery or online (order form).

 

 

 

 

Postcards with images of the artists' work - already selling quickly

 

 

Le Panier, Marseille, France I

 

Click here for an enlarged view of this painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 29 x 10.25 inches (74 x 26 cm)

Frame/Mat: Yes

Purchase: Through Gallery.  Please send me an email for details.

 

 

Orvieto, Italy VII

 

 

Orvieto, Italy VII

 

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 29 x 10.25 inches (74 x 26 cm)

Frame/Mat: Yes

Purchase: Through Gallery.  Please send me an email for details.

 

 

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Portofino VI, Italian Landscape Painting


Portofino, Italy VI

 

It is often said that being an artist is a lonely profession.  It is true.  To grow as an artist as well as to raise our skill level, we do need plenty of "alone" time  - with our art.  But many of us also seek ways to connect and socialize with our peers.  Even if one lives in a remote corner of the world, with today's technology, it is not difficult to find colleagues.  For me, personally and professionally, meeting and making new artist friends at art openings, workshops, paint-outs and also on my blog, facebook, twitter, etc. was one of the great things that happened in 2011.

 

A demonstration/lecture organized by Watercolor West, my latest art event about 10 days ago, was particularly enjoyable (Read my previous post about this event).  I had never met before most of 80-90 people who attended the event but, being watercolor artists, I felt we developed instant camaraderie.  Among them was Karen Werner.  It was very nice of her to write a post on her blog about my demo.  And there was Carolyn Streed who has been traveling all across America with her husband in their coach.  She and I have been facebook friends for some time and we were excited to finally meet face-to-face.

 

As we prepare to ring in a new year, I look forward to many more encounters like these throughout 2012.

 

 

Portofino, Italy VI

 

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 (Collection Carolyn Streed)

 

 

- Join me on Facebook and follow my blog on NetworkedBlogs.

- Follow me on Google+.
- Visit my gallery at Daily Paintworks.
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Milano, Italy XI, Italian Landscape Painting


Milano, Italy XI

 

Not all sunsets are created equal.  Some are more colorful, more dramatic, more poetic, more... well, beautiful.  But then again, everyone's perception is different.  If we ask anyone where they would go for a beautiful sunset, their answers will vary.  I, for one, like spending that glorious last hour of sunlight, surrounded by the bustling cityscape.  In Milan, Italy's trendiest city, I had one of those exciting moments -- The last rays of sunlight kissing the city's skyline good-night was simply irresistible beauty to me.

 

I am pleased to announce that I will be a featured artist demonstrator at the Watercolor West 43rd Annual International Exhibit in Brea, California.  My demonstration is scheduled for Sunday, December 18, 1-5pm, in the Council Chambers at the Brea Civic Cultural Center.  This painting is currently on view at the venue by courtesy of the Watercolor West.

 

 

Milano, Italy XI

 

Click here for an enlarged view of this painting.

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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- Visit my gallery at Daily Paintworks.
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Carnevale in Venice


Gondolier XI

 

It's time for carnevale in Venice.  This year's festivities have already begun last month and will end on March 8 with a huge party to end all parties.  People walk on the streets, wearing costumes and traditional Venetian masks.  There are extravagant balls, concerts, parades on canals.  This is a big winter celebration, 40 days before Easter, when Venice transforms itself into a mysterious world of elegance and magic.

 

 

Gondolier, Venice, Italy XI

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 10 x 6 inches (25 x 15 cm)
Mat: Yes (15 x 10 inches; white)

Frame: No

Purchase: Sold 

 

  Venice Reflections X

 

Venice Reflections X

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

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

Mat/Frame: No

Purchase: Sold

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Gondolier X, Venice Italy Painting


Gondolier, Venice X

 

San Bartolomeo is a church tucked away behind the Rialto Bridge.  Some time after its foundation in the 9th century, it became the church of the German trading community that enjoyed an active commerce in this area.  The bell tower was constructed when the church was rebuilt following the 1688 earthquake.  The onion shaped dome with an octagonal drum is visible from the Grand Canal.

 

The traffic on the Grand Canal, Venice's main waterway, is always very busy near the Rialto Bridge, with all kinds of boats going up and down and across the corridor.   But skilled gondoliers would just paddle their gondolas through them all while serenading.

 

 

Gondolier, Venice, Italy X

 

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21.5 x 7 inches (54.5 x 18 cm)
Mat/Frame: Yes (27 x 12 inches).  Please ask for details.

Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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New Watercolor Workshop in San Diego


Firenze, Italy IX

 

I am pleased to announce that my new class has just been added to the San Diego Watercolor Society's workshop list.

 

I'll be teaching "Landscape and Perspective" in the SDWS Education Center, May 9-11, 2011.  Each day duing class I will also do one or two demonstrations, such as this painting (a demo from my recent workshop).

 

For a class description and more information, please check out My Workshops and register online at www.sdws.org.

 

 

 

Firenze, Italy IX

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21.5 x 14.25 inches (54.5 x 36 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

 

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Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy III, Italian Landscape Painting


S. Margherita Ligure, Italy III

 

Right next to Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure is another lovely town by the Ligurian Sea.  Lured by the region's picturesque scenery and all that it offers, many tourists visit here.  The popularity of these towns are attested by crowds at their beaches and waterfront promenades.

 

But if we go further inland a couple of blocks, what we will see is just local people going about their ordinary life.  Children playing soccer, neighbors chatting in a square, moms busily shopping for dinner, a pizza delivery man on a Vespa... I just love seeing slice of life stories like these unfold.

 

In a residential neighborhood like this, there's no fancy pizzeria but I'd be happy to find an old snack bar behind a row of parked scooters.  A slice of pizza the owner warmed up for me tasted better than anything I might have found at a pricey restaurant where a waiter would recommend a tourist menu in several different languages.

 

 

Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy III

 

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Portofino, Italy V, Italian Landscape Painting


Portofino, Italy V

 

One of the rewards for traveling is that we realize there are many lessons to be learned out there. We can read or watch dvd's about different places, people and cultures, but the first-hand experience makes it so much easier to learn about them that it often doesn't feel like we are making a conscious effort.

 

For example, Portofino is a perfect place to understand the meaning of la dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing, that I heard the Italians had perfected as an art form.  Sitting at a cafe near the harbor surrounded by brightly-colored houses, the blue ocean and green mountains, and doing really nothing else but savoring the moment to appreciate what we have in life...  Doing this well is not as easy as it sounds especially if you are used to a fast-paced and hurried life.  But I think we can assume this is a lesson eveyone would love to learn.

 

 

Portofino, Italy V

 

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Portofino, Italy IV, Italian Landscape Painting


Portofino, Italy IV

 

The internet has allowed us artists to reach virtually all over the world.  I, for one, have done business with many people, in the last few years, who are more diverse in nationality, geographical location, profession, age, and financial means than I can write in one blog post.

 

Communication with them is usually by email.  While some prefer keeping it strictly business, many tell me a bit of their background information - who they are, where they live, why they like a particular painting of mine, who they buy a painting for, etc.  Each of their stories is so uniquely different, therefore special, I don't know if I will ever be surprised to hear even the one beyond my wildest dreams. What I want to say is, these stories bring me such a joy as they give my paintings a special meaning in a way I can't possibly do.

 

There's also a downside to having an internet presence, such as being targeted by art scammers.  I just had an unpleasant encounter with one through email last week and was made aware that having seen them and heard about them for years doesn't prepare you 100% against them.  Just as we artists become more familiar with their typical tactics, scammers invent a cleverer approach once their old tricks stop working.  Good news for me was that I didn't lose money or paintings to this scammer but he really wasted my time.  I was mentally exhausted and I felt I needed a vacation.  So I painted a beautiful villa on the Italian Riviera, overlooking the deep blue Ligurian Sea for a little escape.

Art is a way to express yourself and through that you can escape a bad situation.  - Russell Simmons


 

Portofino, Italy IV

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Cortona, Italy VI, Italian Landscape Painting


Cortona, Italy VI

 

Artists may have a constant need to create but it is not easy to stay inspired all the time to do so, or it may not even be possible.  As they say, life gets in the way... often.  And we let go of our senses or ignore our emotions for what's supposed to be the source of inspiration.  At a time like this, I would go out or let my mind wander in those special places I visited.  If I find something, in real life or in my travel memories, like a sweeping, panoramic view of the Chiana Valley, it usually opens up my mind instantly.

 

Looking toward Lake Trasimeno in the far distance, I was standing up on the hill of Cortona, awe-struck with the incredible beauty of the landscape below.  Vineyards, olive groves, red-roofed houses seen among tall cypress trees, combined with the sweet smell of the earth, herbs and flowers...  By immersing myself in the scene, I can feel my senses and emotions coming back.  That's the moment to wet the paper and mix paints or hit the easel with zest.

 

 

 

Cortona, Italy IV

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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San Diego Workshops


Barrio Logan, San Diego II

 

Last weekend I had so much fun with a group of 25 very enthusiastic students who attended my workshop at the Education Center of the San Diego Watercolor Society.  I did four demos over two days and in between everyone was busy painting, learning, critiquing, exchanging ideas, socializing and inspiring each other.   Here are some photos and some of my demo paintings.

 

I am scheduled to do another weekend workshop, Capturing Light and Atmosphere in Watercolor, at the San Diego Watercolor Society in September, 2011.  Register early at the SDWS website.

 

 

    

 

 

  Firenze, Italy IX

 

  Julian VII

 

 

Barrio Logan, San Diego II

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 12 x 16 inches (31 x 41 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

 

 

Firenze, Italy IX

 

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21.5 x 14.25 inches (54.5 x 36 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

 

 

Julian, San Diego VII

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 12 x 16 inches (31 x 41 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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San Gimignano, Italy III, Italian Landscape Painting


S. Gimignano III

 

When we talk about towers in Italy, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is probably what comes to mind first for most people.  Of course there are many other well-known towers - the Campanile di San Marco in Venice, Torrazzo in Cremona, the Torre del Mangia in Siena, just to name a few.  But which town or city in Italy offers a more strikingly beautiful skyline of towers than San Gimignano?

 

San Gimignano is a small Tuscan hilltop town famous for its medieval towers.  Now with only 13 remaining out of more than 70 towers built by rich families during the 12th to 13th centuries, the town still brings us back to those times when it was thriving.  I painted a street scene in the narrow vertical format for a more realistic feel of the place.

 

 

 

San Gimignano, Italy III

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21.5 x 7 inches (54.5 x 18 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see more paintings in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

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Cortona, Italy V, Italian Landscape Painting


Cortona, Italy V

 

"As travel pushes me forward, memory keeps dragging me backward." - Frances Mayes.

 

When I think of autumn in Tuscany, the first memory that comes back to me is not a sight but a taste, from many years ago:  It was well past lunchtime when I finally found a tiny family-run restaurant in the remote countryside.  Inside was quite simple - no tourists but a few local people chatting together.  I was feeling a little out of place and not sure what to order, but apparently that was not a concern for a madam who seated me.  She said something rapidly in Italian, with "Va bene?" (Is it all right?) at the end.  And she disappeared into a kitchen.

 

There I was waiting... and waiting for quite a long time, wondering if I had ordered anything at all.  At last, she came out with a generous portion of warm risotto with porcini mushroom.  Risotto does take a long time to cook, and she must have made it from scratch for me.  Her smile and the creamy risotto with the earthy flavor of this autumn delicacy of Tuscany gave me a big smile, too.

 

Here's recipe of a similar dish (courtesy of Food Network).  Buon appetito!

 

 

Cortona, Italy V

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see more paintings in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

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Siena, Italy VIII, Italian Landscape Painting


Siena, Italy VIII

 

Sometimes we wonder how in the world we could survive life before the internet.  But somehow we did.

 

In those days, traveling far from home meant a difficulty to stay current with the news, and a traveler would often feel isolated for better or worse.  While in a foreign land where there was a language barrier, TV offered little help.  Placing an international call home was a luxury, especially for a young backpacker on a budget.  Sometimes I had my family and friends from home send letters for me to a place like the American Express office in a country where I was traveling, and I would pick them up when I got there.

 

During my first visit to Italy, I learned a quick stop at a newsstand could satisfy my need to know the world's biggest news if I could just skim the headlines of any English-language newspaper they carried.  When I saw this newspaper kiosk in Siena, nostalgic memories of those days came back.

 

 

Siena, Italy VIII

 

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

Click here to see more paintings in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

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Piazza del Campo of Siena, Italy


Siena, Italy V

 

I was awe-struck as I stood on one edge of Piazze del Campo.  I often heard people describe it as the loveliest or the finest square in Europe, but until I saw it with my own eyes, I couldn't really believe it.

 

On a sizzling hot summer day, you may feel like a pizza in the oven walking in the sunny red-brick square.  But when the beautiful medieval buildings start casting shadows and cooling the bricks, you will see small groups of people here and there actually sitting on the ground as if they were on the beach or in the grassy park.

 

In an attempt to best depict the grandeur and a sense of place, I made three paintnigs of this piazza that I also think one of the finest.

 

  Siena, Italy VI

 

  Siena, Italy VII

 

 

Siena, Italy V

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

 

 

Siena, Italy VI

 

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

 

 

Siena, Italy VII

 

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see more paintings in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

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VII Bienal Internacional de Acuarela 2009-2010 Chile

 

Napoli, Italy III

 

 

Wonderful news came yesterday that two paintings I had submitted have been juried into the Seventh International Watercolor Biennial (VII Bienal Internacional de Acuarela, 2009-2010, Viña del Mar, Chile).

 

A panel of jurors chose works from 31 artists out of 300 entries from the Americas, Asia and Europe.  It is quite an honor to have my paintings selected to be in this exhibition that will open on November 30, 2010 in the city of Viña del Mar, Chile.

 

Exhibiting artists are from Argentina, China, Mexico, Chile, the U.S.A., Venezuela, Japan, Guatemala, Uruguay, and Peru.

 

 

Napoli, Italy III

 

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21.5 x 14 inches (54 x 36 cm)
Purchase: Please send me an email.

 

 

 

  Napoli, Italy V

 

Napoli, Italy V

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21.5 x 14 inches (54 x 36 cm)
Purchase: Please send me an email.

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Siena, Italy IV, Italian Landscape Painting


Siena, Italy IV

 

Being a traveler longer than a painter, I knew "siena" first as a name of a Tuscan town in Italy before I learned of it as a name in some paint colors.

 

As a beginner painter, learning all the fancy names written on paint tubes, I thought "sienna" (as in raw sienna and burnt sienna) sounded particularly attractive.  And I wondered if there was any connection to Siena, a crazy Italian town I had visited long ago as a student backpacker...

 

I said "crazy" because that was my first impression of Siena.  No wonder, the day I chose to go there happened to be one of Il Palio dates, a world-famous horse racing festival that takes place twice a year.

 

By the way, the name "sienna" does come from Siena.  It is short for terra di Siena, "earth of Siena" but the mines used to produce sienna petered out in the 1940s (Wikipedia).  Thank goodness, sienna is still being produced in other regions because we need it to paint streets of this beautiful Tuscan town.

 

 

Siena, Italy IV

 

Click here for an enlarged view.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see more paintings in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

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Arezzo, Italy III, Italian Landscape Painting


Arezzo, Italy III

 

Although there are many churches in the town of Arezzo,  the Basilica of San Francesco is one of the most famous because of the frescoes by Piero della Francesca.  Facing this medieval church is a cafe used in the film Life is Beautiful  (by Roberto Benigni).

 

I had spent a most memorable day exploring the Tuscan countryside and just returned to Arezzo where I had a place to stay.  Almost at day's end, I came to Piazza San Francesco and caught the last rays of sunlight hitting the top of the buildings.  Stopping to enjoy the scene at the piazza, I also noticed greetings heard around this cafe switch from buon giorno (good day) to buona sera (good evening).  La vita è bella, indeed.

 

 

"When I first saw a Fellini movie, I came out of the movie theatre and decided to become a lawyer!  I thought to myself, it's impossible to make something so beautiful!"

 

"My duty is to try to reach beauty.  Cinema is emotion.  When you laugh you cry."

 

- Roberto Benigni, Italian actor, screenwriter, director

 


Arezzo, Italy III

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Life is Beautiful in Arezzo, Italy

 

Arezzo, Italy I

 

 

A few days before arriving in Arezzo, I called Lory, an owner of a bed-and-breakfast in the town where I had booked a room.  It was funny that she spoke Italian rapidly and I seriously lacked the ability to understand her language, but somehow we managed to communicate and made a plan for my arrival.

My train for Arezzo was delayed and I got there 20 minutes late.  But, much to my relief and just as Lory had told me, her husband Alteo was waiting for me with his black SUV.

During a short ride to their place, Alteo gave me a quick tour of the town.  Arezzo seemed to be a busy, moderate-sized city with a small-town feel and long history.  We drove past some neat-looking squares and at one he pointed to a cafe where a scene was shot for the film Life is Beautiful, one of my favorite Italian movies by Roberto Benigni.  People were enjoying lunch outdoors under the bright sun...  I was already loving this Tuscan town even before I started to explore.


  Arezzo, Italy II


Arezzo, Italy I & II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Cortona, Italy I, Italian Landscape Painting


Cortona, Italy I

Hilltop towns and villages in Italy have existed for centuries.  In some of these places, time seems to have stopped at middle ages.  On the other hand, some were "discovered" by travelers getting off the beaten track, and became popular tourist destinations.  Being written about in a book or travel magazine or being featured in a movie also played a role in the popularity at least for a few of these towns.

Cortona was taken by the Etruscans in the ancient times but today by tourists and travelers who come here from all over the world for its magnificent views, art, architecture, regional food and wine, etc.

The street in this painting is Via Nazionale and it connects two important squares of Cortona: Piazza Garibaldi and Piazza della Repubblica where the City Hall is.  Most visitors leave their cars or get off their bus at Piazza Garibaldi to enter the town walls.  Most will take Via Nazionale because it is the town's main street with vibrant colors and inviting activities of shops and restaurants.


Cortona, Italy I

A larger image of this painting is available on request.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

Click here to see more paintings in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

 

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Napoli, Italy VIII, Italian Landscape Painting


Napoli, Italy VIII

 

Despite the fear of living near Mount Vesuvius that buried Pompeii in the year 79, people in Naples have been enjoying benefits from what the fertile volcanic soils bring to their tables - some include finest ingredients for their famous pizza.

Vera Pizza Napoletana
- A sign that says "true Neapolitan pizza" can be seen here and there when we walk on the streets of Naples.  In this logo, there's a pizza maker (pizzaiolo) standing with a giant wooden spatula (in green) with a round dough (in red) on it.  There's also Mount Vesuvius depicted in the black background, and I must say this is quite an eye-catching design.

Only the restaurants and pizzerias certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana can proudly hang this sign.  It means that's where we can taste the authentic pizza of Naples, recognized formally and strictly regulated by the Italian government as a DOC product.

So look for this sign, when walking in Naples; the nearest one may be in a back alley, just around the corner from a busy main street like this in today's painting.


Napoli, Italy VIII

A larger image of this painting is available on request.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

Click here to see another painting of a backstreet of Naples.

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Napoli, Italy VII, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Napoli, Italy VII

 

 

What color symbolizes may be different from culture to culture, or even from person to person.  I'm not an expert on symbolism of color but I know it does funny things to our psychology.

I have painted streets from different corners of the world, and I have found I choose the color(s) I associate with a particular place in my painting of the place.  This doesn't happen all the time, but I find it very intriguing when it does.  One example is today's painting.  I didn't intend to color the street this way, but doesn't the foreground look like the flag of Italy with bands of green, white and red?
 
Green, white and red are the three colors of Il tricolore, as their flag is called in Italy.  I have heard different stories as to what they represent.  Some say they are green hills, white snow and blood.  Others say green means hope, white faith and red charity.  The one I like is this: it represents three toppings on a pizza: basil leaf, mozzarella cheese and tomato.

When I travel in Italy, I often choose the Margherita pizza made only with these three toppings over other choices.  Coincidentally, this, perhaps the simplest form of pizza, was invented in Naples back in 1889 and presented to Queen Margherita of Savoy on her visit to the city.

I remember a hot slice of pizza Margherita I bought on a street like the one in this painting was the best I ever tasted.  And I must believe the memory was coming back when I painted this street scene.


Napoli, Italy VII

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Roma, Italia XXXIX, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XXXIX

 

At the base of the Spanish Steps, shadows of palm trees in the square grew longer and longer as the sun set.  They crawled up on brightly-colored walls of the surrounding buildings like they wanted to reach the sky but soon they were absorbed into the warmth of orange walls.

The square, Piazza di Spagna, was full of people and there were also several horses waiting for riders in their carriages.  When Charles Dickens came here in 1845, he described the crowded square as a meeting place "for artists' models, who would dress in colourful traditional costumes, hoping to catch the attention of a wealthy artist."  Is this still true?  I don't know.  Maybe I didn't notice because I am not certainly a wealthy artist.


"Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress."

- Charles Dickens, Victorian-era English novelist, wrote Pictures from Italy based on his trip in the mid 1800s.


Roma, Italia XXXIX

 

Click here for an enlarged view.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see other paintings of Rome, Italy.

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Roma, Italia XXXVIII, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XXXVIII

 

When visiting a new place, isn't it human nature to want to see as many famous sights and landmarks as possible?  Even if you tell yourself that you will return someday, you tend to think this is the only chance you get to do them all.  This may be especially true when visiting historic and culturally significant cities such as Rome.

Sometimes I am like that, but sometimes I do the complete opposite and just wander around with no concrete plans.  In fact I enjoy this way a lot more than the other as I often come upon a banal yet visually interesting street scene or a hidden alley where there's no tourists but only local people.

Streets in this painting, and others like "Roma Italia X" and "Roma Italia XXXVI", may never get mentioned in a travel guidebook but to me they are precious memories.


Roma, Italia XXXVIII

A larger image of this painting is available on request.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see other paintings of Rome, Italy.

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Roma, Italia XXXVII, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XXXVII

 

I love painting outdoor markets (click here to see some of my market paintings).  They are lively, inviting and fun.  There are lots of different colors, shapes, smells and tastes that are so tempting to try, or at least try to interpret, in a painting.

But what I like most about markets is people who gather there.  Each interaction between vendors, shoppers, neighbors, friends, or even strangers is just like a vignette from a movie, and that is intriguing to watch or participate in.  That is also what attracts me to depict in my market paintings - something that almost never happens in a superstore with self checkouts.

The market in this painting is held in Campo de' Fiori, in Rome, Italy.

 

 


Roma, Italia XXXVII

 

Click here for an enlarged view.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see other paintings of Rome, Italy.

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Roma, Italia XXXVI, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Roma, Italia XXXVI

 

 

Not being formally trained in art and not being afraid of creative experimentation are like two sides of the coin.  I don't mean it in any offensive way, however, because anybody who creates art embraces the freedom to experiment regardless of their background.

But for those (including myself) who didn't go to art schools to learn what they teach, ignorance may be bliss in order to gain experience by trying new things without worrying about do's and dont's (or grades?).  Of course, without proper guidance, that could easily mean lots of bad paintings and a sense of failure but there's always much to gain if we're willing to learn from experiments.

When I begin a new painting, I have an image, or a certain mood in my mind that I will want to have achieved when I finish.  So with that in mind, I attack a piece of paper.  I must admit I'm not good at making plans and sticking to them but would rather go with the flow, and the same goes for my paintings.



After putting in simple drawing, I still don't have definite plans on how to go about painting to the finish.  But whatever inspiration I had at the outset, I let it loose and see what it wants me to do.  This is what this painting looked like after the initial stage.  At this stage, I usually get a feeling whether it's going to work or not.  However, from my limited experience, I know that it can be deceiving.  So even if the feeling is negative, I push on to complete it and am sometimes pleasantly surprised to see the result.


Roma, Italia XXXVI


Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see other paintings of Rome, Italy.

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Roma, Italia XXXV, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XXXV

 

A few minute's walk from Piazza Navona, there's a square called Campo de' Fiori (field of flowers), known for a lively outdoor market of, not just flowers but also fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, cheese, etc.  I was not really hungry but I couldn't resist picking up a couple of juicy peaches that looked so good.  After washing them, I sat by a fountain and sank my teeth into one of them.

The square was mildly crowded then but I heard that it's usually packed with the young crowd every night.  Peaceful as it may appear, Campo de' Fiori was a rough neighborhood during the Renaissance period and the time before that.  Giordano Bruno, an Italian philosopher and a Dominican friar, was executed right here in 1600 for endorsing Copernicus' heliocentric theory.  Today his statue stands in the middle of the square.

"It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority.  Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people." - Giordano Bruno


Roma, Italia XXXV

A larger image of this painting is available on request.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Sorrento, Italy V, Italian Landscape Painting


Sorrento, Italy V

 

Always make sure they are fresh, high-quality and without impurities.  It'll be even better if they are carefully manufactured by a reputable artisan.  Then, when tried, they will satisfy you with rich, smooth texture and color.  A wonderful experience like this is hard to forget, making us want to come back to it again and again.

 

As you can guess, I am talking about a really good gelato, wonderfully tasty Italian ice cream, just like what you can get at a popular gelateria in the sunny Sorrento.  But, seriously, the same thing can be said about paints we choose to work with.

 

How our paints/colors perform can make or break a painting.  That's why it is important to choose the best kind that suits our taste, style, subject, or even character.  If we don't feel good about the paints in our palette, we won't make a truly good painting because our lack of confidence will show.



Sorrento, Italy V

 

A large digiral file available on request.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Roma, Italia XXXIV, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XXXIV

 

I am revisiting the same subject (the Spanish Steps) for today's painting.  This from the base at the Piazza di Spagna is most likely one of the best-known views of Rome.  A long stairway leading up to a beautiful church with twin bell towers; really warm colors of the buildings on both sides, and lots and lots of people. 

 

However, to admire this lively view is one thing, to paint it is quite another, especially in a format that I use for my daily painting.  There's just too much information there to put in a small painting! 

 

So, as a way to deal with this potential headache, I tried not to see this famous scene as the one widely known to us but instead focused on highlighted areas and the outline of the buildings as a whole.  The end result is a painting with large shapes and colorful dots.


Roma, Italia XXXIV

 

Click here for an enlarged view.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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II Encuentro de Acuarelistas Hispanoamericanos, Guayaquil, Ecuador

 

Duomo, Milano, Italy II

 

 

Yesterday I received this wonderful news direct from Ecuador.  My painting, "Duomo, Milano, Italy II" has been awarded first place in an international watercolor exhibition (II Encuentro de Acuarelistas Hispanoamericanos) currently being held at the Teatro Centro de Arte in Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador on the Pacific Coast.

This is an incredible honor for me, and I would like to thank the organizers (especially Consuelo & Patricia) for making this possible.  The exhibition runs through August 5, 2010.


Duomo, Milano, Italy II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 70 x 50 cm (28 x 20 inches)
Purchase: Sold

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Bridges over the Tiber, Rome, Italy


Roma, Italia XXXII (sold)

 

It is interesting to see on a map how Rome is divided into two sections by the River Tiber.  Compared to the bigger east side with all the famous monuments, the west side may be less well-known but has a distinctively unique character.

When I'm in Rome, I like walking through back alleys to come to the riverbanks of the Tiber.  In Roma, Italia XXXII is one of the bridges near the Castel Sant'Angelo, and Roma, Italia XXXIII shows a view from it.

Watching the river run and taking in the surrounding scenery from this bridge,  I think of ancient times... Is it really true Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome, were thrown into this river before they were saved by a she-wolf who raised these infants?... In a city like Rome, a bridge is not just to get us to the other side of a river; it seems to take us all the way back to the past in history.


Roma, Italia XXXIII


Roma, Italia XXXII & XXXIII

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Roma, Italia XXXI, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XXXI

 

Out of many squares in Rome, who wouldn't love the Piazza della Rotonda?  Some might ask, "where is that?" because the name of the square may not be as popular as the image of it.  But "rotonda" meaning a round building in Italian, it's easy to think of one, a famous one, that fits the description - the Pantheon.

Always crowded and lively, this square is so well-known that, if you can't remember the name, you can simply say to your friend, "let's meet up in the square of the Pantheon."

 

 

 

  This is how I started this painting.



Roma, Italia XXXI

 

Click here for an enlarged view.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Roma, Italia XXX, Italian Landscape Painting

Roma, Italia XXX

 

 

The original Piazza del Popolo (the People's Square) was completely redesigned and remodeled by architect Giuseppe Valadier in the early 19th century, and today it boasts a huge, beautiful and very popular space in Rome.

Because the redesign was well thought out, many angles from this square offer aesthetically spectacular views.  My favorite is this view of twin churches and an obelisk that was brought from Egypt in 10 BC.  I hope I was able to suggest how immense this place is by placing people and tiny cars in the distance.


Roma, Italia XXX

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Roma, Italia XXIX, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XXIX

 

- But don't you have to work?

- Work?  No, today's going to be a holiday.

Then Princess Ann and Joe Bradley go on to have all kinds of silly fun in Rome.  The Eternal City.  The City of Fountains.  While Rome looks splendid in all seasons, it shines the best in the summertime.

Starting with this painting of the Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza Navona, I am going to visit (paint) several spots, some depicted in the film Roman Holiday, this week and the next - just to feel as if I was enjoying a wonderful holiday in Rome like Ann and Joe.



Roma, Italia XXIX

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Venice Canal Paintings


Venice Canal X (sold)

 

I am on the road again... I hope to post new paintings that I'll make at my destination, after unpacking, settling into a new time zone and feeling free of jet lag.

Just prior to my departure, I was working on a commission of a Venice painting.  My client asked me to create a special piece for her dear friend who is finishing his studies in this canal city.  While doing some research for the commission, I became so inspired to make several more paintings.  I don't really know why... just to be in the right mood for the commission piece, maybe.  Or I could say it was the magic of Venice.  Some of them appeared in my last blog post, and here are two more of Venice Canal paintings.



  Venice Canal IX (available)


Venice Canal IX and X

A larger image of any of these paintings is available on request.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 inches (29 x 21 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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More Paintings of Canal Grande, Venice, Italy

 

Canal Grande, Venice III

 

 

Please enjoy more paintings of the Grand Canal of Venice.

Canal Grande, Venice, Italy III, IV, V

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

 

 


  Canal Grande, Venice IV



  Canal Grande, Venice V

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Three Gondoliers, Venice Italy Painting


Three Gondoliers, Venice, Italy

 

Voga alla veneziana, rowing Venetian style, is something anybody who wants to be a gondolier has to master.

According to Veniceworld.com, gondolas are eleven meters in length, 600 kilos in weight, and made with eight different kinds of wood in 280 pieces.  They are flat on the bottom and asymmetric, the left side being larger than the right by 24 cm.  This is the reason the gondola is inclined on one side.

We've all seen it - a gondolier slightly tilting his body and pushing a long oar to navigate a canal in Venice.  Knowing the structure of a gondola helps us understand why a gondolier rows in a certain way.

Voga alla veneziana is something we painters of Venice have to understand, too, to make a scene with a gondolier rowing look believable.


Three Gondoliers, Venice, Italy

 

Click here for an enlarged view.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Rialto Bridge III, Venice Italy Painting


Rialto Bridge, Venice III

 

"Avanti! Avanti! (Forward) Did I just hear a battle cry from the past?  As my waterbus approached the Rialto Bridge on the grand canal, I found myself thinking about the time in history when Venice was a maritime power (13th-15th century).

Rapidly expanding its territories in its heyday, Venetian Republic fought many wars.  The area near the Rialto Bridge must have seen a lot of activities back then as merchants came to a market here from different corners of the world.

In this regard, nothing much has changed as many people are still visiting here from all over the world.  And the nearby market is just as busy.  In this peaceful time, if there's anything close to a war, that may be when one tries to board a very crowded vaporetto (waterbus).

"Avanti! Avanti!" goes the voice of a conductor telling passengers to move forward to make room for more passengers.


Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy III

 

Click here for an enlarged view.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 inches (21 x 29 cm)
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold

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Splash 11: New Directions, The Best of Watercolor


Firenze, Italy VIII

 

I got my copy of Splash 11 today!  It is such an honor to have a painting included in this edition (Firenze, Italy VIII).

The Splash series has been very popular and I can see why.  It is a beautiful hard-cover book and each painting included is a reproduction from a very high-quality photo.

Each edition showcases best works of contemporary watermedia artists that were carefully selected for a specific theme.  Splash 11 focuses on "new directions."  As I go through page after page, I am awe-struck with spectacular creations of artists who work in the medium we all love.  It is also interesting to read how these artists interpret the theme and discuss their painting method.  If you love watercolor/watermedia, I recommend without hesitation you get your copy.


Firenze, Italy VIII

 

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

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Artist Daily: Proven Steps of Watercolor Mastery


Procida, Italy IV

 

Courtney Jordan, editor of Artist Daily (on June 5 , 2010), offers a top-five list she compiled to help those striving to improve their skills for the mastery of the medium of watercolor.

1. Load your brush
2. Go abstract
3. Don't forget to sketch
4. Find the light
5. Consider a limited palette

These are really excellent pieces of advice, coming from someone who is familiar with ins and outs of many techniques and approaches employed by contemporary watermedia artists.

I am happy to see my painting featured in this article (Click to read more).

Read other blog posts about my work that appeared in American Artist/Artist Daily.



Procida, Italy IV

 

Click here for an enlarged view.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14 x 21 inches
Purchase: Sold

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Torino, Italy IV, Italian Landscape Painting


Torino, Italy IV

 

In my fourth painting of the city of Turin (Torino), once again I used the portico as a design motif.  Since it is the city's architectural signature, it adds a special touch to this painting that really helped me immerse in the exact moment I was there.

But in this piece, a main event is, of course, a little flower market that I found between buildings.  While the lifeblood of this market scene was all kinds of cheerful colors of flowers, the dark shadow of a building, not to mention that of a huge umbrella, obscured them on a bright sunny day like this... so I thought.  After a few minutes of observation, however, they managed to crawl out of the darkness.  My eyes even started seeing colors peppered on the mostly gray sidewalk.


  This is how I started this painting.



Torino, Italy IV

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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Venice Canal V-2, Venice Italy Painting


Venice Canal V-2

 

A canal view from the top of a bridge in Venice is a classic.  When the light shines from the back of a canal, it brightens up small sections of the walls here and there on both sides of the canal as it passes through.

Reflections on the water can be hauntingly still at one moment and swaying back and forth at the next.  In the eye of a traveler who visits here from far away, just capturing a canal scene like this is truly a magical moment.


Click here to see more paintings in my Venice Italy Collection.

 

 

Venice Canal V-2

 

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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Torino, Italy III, Interior Painting


Torino, Italy III

 

The Shroud of Turin, Fiat, vermouth, Juventus F.C., the 2006 Winter Olympics...  there are many things that make Torino (Turin) famous in the world, but the portico is something I will never forget about this city.

Stretching for miles (11 miles or 18km), porticos in Torino are without question part of its cityscape.  Spending a good amount of time walking under them, I remember many places, including Piazza San Carlo in this painting, as a view from the portico.


Torino, Italy III

 

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

Click here also to see Torino Italy II painting.

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Santa Margherita Ligure II, Italian Landscape Painting


S. Margherita Ligure, Italy II

 

When I hear the name Santa Margherita Ligure, I remember ever so fondly a balmy summer breeze I enjoyed as a traveler in this charming town on the breath-taking Italian Riviera.  But it also brings back an unforgettable memory from four years ago because my small painting of a street of this town was sold.  The buyer was a lady whose husband spent his youth in a town close to Santa Margherita Ligure.  It was one of my first sales as I had just started showing my work in a gallery of a local watercolor society.

Although I had no formal training in art, I had had for a long time a dream to become a professional painter.  With determination (and maybe ignorance, too), I took the plunge 5 or 6 years ago, because I couldn't think of any other way to live the rest of my life than being an artist.  So the news of the sale was very sweet for me as I had no idea if anybody would want my paintings.  I was so grateful for this town giving me the inspiration to do that painting.


Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy II

 

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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Torino, Italy II, Interior Painting


Torino, Italy II

 

Long ago I had a chance to visit NYC and Washington, D.C. as a student cultural ambassador from Japan.  30 or 40 of us were all invited from different countries, and spending a week together was quite an experience.  One of my roommates was a quiet Italian girl from a small town near Torino, and we formed a kind of friendship that lasted for many years after that memorable summer.

Through the years, we both went through many life events, some happy and some difficult, but we would always write letters to be there for each other.  I made a stop at Torino on my first trip to Northern Italy to see her and Carlo, her baby boy; on my second visit, she had two boys and she was eventually blessed with three boys.

But something must have happened (I only knew she was going through a very tough time).  My last couple of letters were never answered and I lost touch with her.

I stayed in Torino last summer very briefly on my way to an art exhibition, but that visit was the first one without seeing her... I still think of you, my friend.  I'll be always happy to hear from you.


Torino, Italy II

 

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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Genova, Italy V, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Genova, Italy V

 

 

It started raining when I was walking down on Via Balbi toward the old section of Genova (or Genoa).  Wondering whether I should look for shelter to wait it out, I heard "Prego" and found an old man gesturing to usher me in.  I didn't realize I was in front of the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato and the gentleman was a gatekeeper.

I thought I would be a fool not to stop there to avoid getting wet, and I was also tempted to see the inside of this Baroque-style cathedral.  But I was in a hurry that day so I declined his kind invitation and walked on.  After a very enjoyable afternoon in the old town, I passed by the Basilica Annunziata again.  Hoping to find the gatekeeper still there to keep the door open for visitors, I was out of luck.... Batti il ferro quando è caldo (Strike when the iron is hot).  A lesson learned.



  This is how I started this painting.


Genova, Italy V

 

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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Rise and Shine (Italian Alps), Italian Landscape Painting


Rise and Shine (Italian Alps)

 

"The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances." -- Robert Flatt


"Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness."  -- Floyd W. Tomkins

 

 


Rise and Shine (Italian Alps)

 

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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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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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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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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Tazza d'Oro, Rome IV, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Tazza d'Oro, Rome, Italy IV

 

 

In this alley near the Pantheon, if you notice a rich aroma wafting through the air, it must be from a coffee house Tazza d'Oro (golden cup).  As many of their fans will attest, their coffee is simply number one.  I heard that some actually travel miles from other cities for a cup of their espresso.

Buildings on the opposite side, incidentally, display dazzling colors of gold and orange as the light bounces off from one side to the other.   Morning sunlight is already intense here in the summer.  But if you can have this view and the best coffee,  il mattino ha l'oro in bocca (the early bird gets the worm), as the Italians say.

Click to see another painting of this cafe (la casa del caffe).



Tazza d'Oro, Rome, Italy IV

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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Portofino, Italy III, Italian Landscape Painting


Portofino, Italy III

 

Bright colors are everywhere in Portofino.  Pastel-colored houses that line up by the emerald-green ocean.  All kinds of boats, painted in different colors, bobbing gently in the marina.  They are dazzling and almost surreal.  If "picturesque" is not a right word to describe it, I wonder what could be.

In many ways, Portofino is not a typical small fishing village where you expect to find old ladies chatting in an alley, fishermen mending nets, and maybe only a handful of modest eateries.  Even if you just happen upon Portofino, it is evident, at first glance, this is a very exclusive resort.  Things like mega-sized yachts in the harbor and tanned vacationers in designer clothing cannot go unnoticed.


I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.  -- Georgia O'Keeffe


Portofino, Italy III

 

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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Roma, Italia XXVI, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Roma, Italia XXVI

 

 

Walking away from the Pantheon, I turned to take the last look at it.  I wanted to make sure it was still there, and I was relieved to see it at the end of the street.  Silly me, it had been there for almost two millenia.  It'd be the last thing in Rome to disappear like mirage, if that was what I was afraid of.

 

 

This street, as many others in Rome, is lined with buildings that had weathered walls in really fascinating colors.  Sienna, burnt orange, salmon, pale magenta, gold...  In this painting, I had so much fun splashing these colors and water on top of them.


Roma, Italia XXVI


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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Roma, Italia XXV, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XXV

 

The Pantheon -- what an awe-inspiring place!  This magnificent domed temple must be the work of angels, as Michelangelo put it.

After experiencing the sheer exhilaration and an almost surreal sensation while being inside, can one simply leave here and move on to the next sight?  I think many visitors would like to linger on for a while.  To stay for another 30 minutes and admire the exterior of the Pantheon wouldn't be such a bad idea.

In this painting, at a cafe-restaurant appropriately named Bar Pantheon, people are enjoying that and whatever else is going on around them.  A horse-drawn carriage that just came around the corner adds a sense of liveliness to the scene.

 


  This is my preliminary wash for this painting.


Roma, Italia XXV

 

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 other paintings in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

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Amore, Italian Landscape Painting


Amore

 

You are in love "when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie" or "when the stars make you drool just like a pasta fagiole."  How about "when the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine" or "when you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet*"?  Sì, that's amore!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner to celebrate all kinds of love we have for one another.  This painting is not my recent creation but I thought it'd be perfect for a day for love (Click here to read a previous post about this painting).  This scene happened a long, long time ago during my travel in Italy.  But I still remember, as if it was a scene in a movie I watched many times, the atmosphere, the noise, the air... Every time the memory comes back to me, I can't help saying that's amore!

(* lyrics: That's Amore by Dean Martin)

 


Amore

 

Click here for an enlarged view.
Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14 x 21 inches
Mat: Available on request
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see other paintings in my Italian Landscape Collection.

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San Marco II, Venice, Italy Painting


San Marco, Venice II

 

As anyone who's been to Venice will tell you, you will never get lost there if you are heading to Piazza San Marco.  All you have to do is look for a little yellow direction sign that says Per S. Marco.  It can be found almost anywhere (you might even find two of those signs at the same spot, one pointing to the right and the other to the left).

 

As anyone who's been to San Marco will tell you, there's hardly enough elbow room to turn around while standing in the middle of the Piazza.  That may be only true at the height of the tourist season, but it takes a large-scale phenomenon like aqua alta (flooding caused by a high tide) to see the entire ground space sans people -- except a few daredevils like this person who water-skied from one end to the other (watch him on YouTube).

 

 

  San Marco direction sign
   Festival at San Marco


San Marco, Venice, Italy II

 

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

Click here to see other paintings in my Venice Italy Collection.

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Venice Canal VII, Venice, Italy Painting


Venice Canal VII

 

Whenever I get an idea for a new painting, I become so excited and anxious I can't wait to put it down on a paper.  So my drawing is pretty quick and simple.  I draw, with a 4B or 6B pencil, all the main shapes and a few details, especially highlights where I want to preserve the white of a paper.

Then, I gaze at the paper in front of me for a moment, trying to visualize the painting I'd like to make happen.  This is a small but very important step in my process because it makes me aware of the direction I will be focusing on.  Am I still just as excited and determined as before about this painting idea?  If I can honestly yes, I move on to the next step, painting.  If I can't say yes, that's a red flag -- I need to ask myself why and find a remedy for it.  Ignoring this red flag means I will most likely encounter many problems and end up spending more time problem-solving than painting happily and freely.


  Two parts, buildings and the water, make up this painting. I try to establish colors and tones of all the main shapes as much as possible, using a variety of edges.

Time to put in more details, mainly using hard edges and lost-and-found edges here and there.

Finish.


Venece Canal VII

 

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 other paintings in my Venice Italy Collection.

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Venezia VIII, Venice Italy Painting


Venezia VIII

 

The moment I saw this lone gondolier disappear into the light, I realized I had been watching a silent play.  I was the only person in the theater and the gondolier was a solo actor on this stage set in a narrow canal, away from where the crowd was.

Buildings on both sides were quite old and wall colors were faded and partially obscured by what naturally grew in the water.  But at this moment, the high walls became colorful velvety veils.  Thanks to a wonderful job of a lighting technician, light/dark effects created on the veils added a mysterious mood to the scene.  How I wished there was a curtain call...

 

 

 

 

 


Venezia VIII

 

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

Click here to see other paintings in my Venice Italy Collection.

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Market Day V, Venice, Italy Painting


Market Day, Venice, Italy V

 

This market is near the Rialto Bridge and is by far the largest and busiest in Venice.  Strolling under canvas roofs, admiring colorful fresh fruits and vegetables, watching a vendor and an eager shopper talking (something about the produce, I think, but it could be about the weather)... it is a pleasant walk in the morning.

 

I used quick dry brushstrokes on the buildings and the street to suggest things covered with sunlight.

To view other paintings of market scenes in Venice, go to Market Day, Venice IV, Market Day, Venice III, Market Day, Venice II.

 

 

 

 

Market Day, Venice, Italy V

 

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

Click here to see other paintings in my Venice Italy Collection.

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Sorrento, Italy IV, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Sorrento, Italy IV

 

 

Valentine's Day is around the corner and "love" seems to be on everyone's mind at this time of the year.  At the risk of sounding rather corny, I must ask this question - what is love?  We can feel it but we don't quite grasp what it is.  We embrace and celebrate it but we also get angered or tormented by it.

It is such a mysterious emotion most of us know it is too difficult to answer the question, and would rather leave the job up to more capable individuals such as philosophers, poets and songwriters.  The funny thing is, we love to disagree or even criticise if we don't hear them say what we believe.  Does this mean we know what it is?  I'm getting confused... it is indeed mysterious.

"Any time not spent on love is wasted."

"Love is when you don't have to be with another person to touch their heart."

- Torquato Tasso, an Italian poet born in Sorrento

(Piazza Tasso, in this painting, is named after Torquato Tasso, Sorrento's native son.)

 

Sorrento, Italy IV

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)

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Venice Canal VI, Venice, Italy Painting


Venice Canal VI

 

According to Truman Capote, "Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go."  Not really meaning to prove him right, I happened to have a box of chocolate liqueurs sitting in my studio when I was thinking what to paint.  Lo and behold, it sure put me in the mood for another piece of Venice canal.

I decided to use a photo I took (below) which shows an ordinary canal scene on a gray day.  To me, reference photos are for just that, for reference only.  How faithfully I paint to what's in it or how much further I deviate from it really depends on my muse.  Sometimes, I use my earlier work as a source of inspiration (Click here to see how I painted "Venezia VII" as an example).

I don't know if I had too many of those tiny Anthon Berg chocolate bottles filled with spirits or if it was a Venice thing, but I did finish today's painting almost in one go.


  Reference photo for Venice Canal VI



Venice Canal VI

 

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

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Roma, Italia XXIV, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XXIV

 

Just when I got used to constant noise of cars and scooters on my first day in Rome, I thought I heard "waterfall."  What could it be?  Around the corner, there it was, not a waterfall, but a beautiful fountain spouting water up in the air, in the middle of a traffic circle, Piazza della Repubblica.

The semi-circular piazza is surrounded by buildings with porticos, and this cafe bar was under one of the porticos or arcades.  Not a bad place to take a coffee break especially on a very warm day.

 

 

 


Roma, Italia XXIV

 

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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Market Day IV, Venice, Italy Painting


Market Day, Venice, Italy IV

 

If you can't get to a market, a market will come to you in Venice.  I spotted a flat-bottomed boat carrying several different kinds of fruits and vegetables in one of the canals in a quiet neighborhood.  For produce sellers and residents, this may be just a practical idea born out of necessity to meet their daily shopping needs.  But it is quite an interesting sight for visitors.  For someone like me who was sprinkled with dust of Venice magic, its appeal even evokes a bit of romanticism.

A realist in Venice, would become a romantic by mere faithfulness to what he saw before him. 
- Arthus Symons, British poet



        
Floating market, Venice


Market Day, Venice, Italy IV


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

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Assisi, Italy VII, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Assisi, Italy VII

 

 

San Diego Watercolor Society is now accepting registration for my workshop on Perspective.  Here's what I am planning to do.  If this is of your interest, I hope you'll join me!

"Applying Perspective to Landscapes" - Successfully applying perspective makes a landscape painting more inviting and engaging.  I will show how I design my painting based on a solid plan using effective perspective.  I will demonstrate one or two landscape or cityscape paintings a day, discuss my methods and materials and answer questions.  I will offer one-on-one instruction as participants work on painting.  A day will be finished with a group critique.  All levels welcome.

Date: December 4 & 5, 2010
Place: San Diego Watercolor Society, San Diego, California
Registration: click here to register


Assisi, Italy VII


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 XXIII, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Roma, Italia XXIII

 

 

Shadows on a street leading up to St. Peter's Basilica suggest it is midday.  I like it when bright sun creates dark edges that I enjoy painting against areas in the lighter value.  But in this painting, I really had fun with colors -- the colors of paints that I happened to have on my palette yesterday.

A small palette that I normally use when I travel needed cleaning.  So I was going to start a day by washing this.  When I looked at it, some paints had been used up but the colors that still remained were moist under an air-tight lid.  I saw cobalt blue, alizarin crimson, aureolin, yellow ochre, cobalt red and a little bit of turquoise and burnt umber, and I decided to make good use of them in this painting.  As a result, I think these colors helped achieve a cohesive harmony I was looking for in a midday scene.  But tomorrow I really have to wash this palette.

 
Roma, Italia XXIII

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 other Italian cityscape/landscape paintings.

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Roma, Italia XXII, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Roma, Italia XXII

 

 

Crossing Piazza Venezia is definitely not for the faint-hearted.  Cars, taxis, buses, lots of scooters and occasional horse carriages seem to come and go from anywhere and incessantly.  So, anybody who deals with traffic on the Rome's busiest square must have one of the most thrilling jobs.  This traffic control officer, standing on a podium in the middle of the piazza was a testament to that.

Wearing a white helmet, white gloves and a whistle around his neck, he was signaling to drivers who poured into Piazza Venezia from all directions.  Given the traffic condition, I had to take my hat off to him.  He was just like a lion tamer, if you will, as he was moving everyone flawlessly from one side to the other.  This painting is one of my favorite Roman scenes.


                          (details)

                         (details)


Roma, Italia XXII

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

Click here to see other Italian cityscape/landscape paintings.

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Gondolier, Venice VIII, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Gondolier, Venice VIII

 

 

Sous Le Ciel de Paris (Edit Piaf), On An Evening in Roma (Dean Martin)... Songs inspired by cities like Paris and Rome instantly transport me to streets in these charming places.  They make me miss all the wonderful things I enjoyed there.  Choosing music that puts me in the right mood for a particular painting is often very important in my studioWhat would be perfect for a piece of Venice?  How about Dalida's Gondolier? ... Tu chantais / Pour lui et moi / Lui et moi / Tu te rappelles / Lui et moi / C'était écrit / Pour la vie / La vie si belle / Gondolier / Quand tu chantais ... (Lyrics: "Gondolier" by Dalida)

 

 

 

Gondolier, Venice, Italy VIII

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.


Click here to see other paintings in my Venice Italy Collection.

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Two Gondoliers, Venice I, Italian Landscape Painting


Two Gondoliers, Venice I

 

I don't know who designed it, but the gondolier's uniform makes them look good.  They always wear black trousers and shoes.  And they wear a polo or a T-shirt with stripes. I've seen two versions: red and white stripes or blue and white stripes.  Sometimes they put on a straw hat with a ribbon in a matching color with a stripe.

In an old city like Venice where buildings and streets (and canals) look more weathered than starkly clean or bright, gondolier's dark-colored outfit from waist down often fades into the background.  But it's the stripes of their shirt that sparkle.  That's where I try to leave the white of the paper when I paint them in watercolor.

 


Two Gondoliers, Venice, Italy I


Click here for an enlarged view of this painting.
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 other paintings in my Venice Italy Collection.

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Venice Reflections VIII, Italian Landscape Painting

 

  Venice Reflections VIII

 

 

I don't even remember what else was there because I was so mesmerized by the light at sunset time in Venice.  Its soft and magical quality was amazing.  And the reflection on the water was spectacular.  That's all I remember about this particular spot.

Using my photo and quick sketch, I did my first painting Venice Canal III-5.  I think I was able to capture the atmosphere and the flavor of this magical moment.   Based on this first painting, I made a few more pieces, including today's painting.  For today's painting, I used a vertical format to give more attention to the reflection on the water. 


 

 

Venice Reflections, Italy VIII

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 6.5 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 18 x 12 in.
Purchase:  Please send me an email for more information.

Click here to see more Venice Italy paintings on my website.

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Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy I, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy I

 

 

Because "only a lazy guidebook about Italy doesn't quote a sentence said once by Napoleon," chances are many visitors are already familiar with his quote: San Marco is Europe's most elegant drawing room (venice travel website).  In general, I am not really interested in painting famous landmarks.  Instead, I find myself attracted to more mundane scenes: smaller squares, backstreets, local markets, etc. where ordinary people live.

Standing in the middle of the San Marco Square among many other tourists and pigeons, and admiring the sights all around me, I indulged myself as a tourist.  Because I didn't think I'd paint any of it, I was not really in a painter's mode.  Otherwise, I would have been looking for an exciting perspective; I would have been seeing intriguing value patterns or negative shapes; I would have been trying to figure out what colors to use or mix for this building or that.  But the mode shifted when I least expected it.

It had just stopped raining in Piazza San Marco. I dropped my folded umbrella, so I got down to the ground level to pick it up.  And I saw this view, which put me in the painter's mode right away.


Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy I


Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 9.5 x 7.5 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 14 x 11 in.
Purchase: Sold

Click here to see more Venice Italy paintings on my website.

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Trattoria, Venice, Italy III, Italian Landscape Painting

 

  Trattoria, Venice III

 

 

There's nothing like eating a good meal in a friendly, family-run trattoria that local people also love to frequent.

 

But today I read shocking news: Venetians may soon be extinct and Venice will be a ghost town by 2030.  They say tourism has driven up prices too high for local residents to live there comfortably.  Does this mean, in just 20 years, I won't be able to sit in a trattoria like this any more? (Please go to my previous post to read about this trattoria).


The number of permanent residents in Venice went from 145,000 in 1960 to 59,984 last month (source: The Times).  It is now official that there are more tourists than locals on any given day.  This is a fearful situation for remaining Venetians.  Sorrowful, they are holding a "funeral" today, sending a red coffin down the canal with three gondolas as escorts.

 


Trattoria, Venice, Italy III

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 10 x 6.25 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 15 x 10 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Trattoria, Venice, Italy II, Italian Landscape Painting

 

  Trattoria, Venice II

 

 

Travel experience could be ruined with just one disappointing meal in a wrong restaurant.  Yet it is not easy to find a good place, especially in a foreign land, that we will remember fondly even years after the visit.

In a huge tourist destination like Venice, there are dozens of eateries that get recommended by travel gurus and popular guidebooks.  But, then, there's always somebody who will refute the recommendation, based on his or her experience.

So what can we really rely on when looking for a great place to taste the local food?  I'd say our own ears.  When you hear only locals speaking and dining  inside a restaurant, that's an indication of good food and reasonable prices.  Whether this trattoria in the painting is an excellent choice or not, I don't know.  It was a little too early for dinner and there was only one diner.



Trattoria, Venice, Italy II


Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 13 x 6 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 19 x 12 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Lecce, Italy II, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Lecce, Italy II

 

 

Situated in the heel of the Italian boot, Lecce is an elegant town known for its unique Baroque-style architecture.  A fan of flamboyant Baroque features on buildings, I was excited to be in Lecce, the town also known as "Florence of the south."  It was raining hard and the streets were quiet, so I was able to stop wherever I wanted to marvel at intricate carvings and rich decorations on many buildings.

Totally absorbed, I didn't even notice a young man in a business suit was walking with me under my umbrella.  He spoke very fast in Italian and I understood so little.  Before I even realized he was asking me whether I was a tourist, he said "Grazie, ciao!" and ran to what looked like a travel agency nearby.  He just needed a quick shelter and I happened to be walking in the same direction...  Just a little ornament of my Baroque experience in Lecce.


Lecce, Italy II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 13.5 x 10.5 in.
Mat Size: 20 x 16 in. (Mat color: white)
Purchase: Sold

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Napoli, Italy IV, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Napoli, Italy IV

 

 

A look into one of the narrow alleys in the heart of the Spaccanapoli neighborhood reveals nothing but mystery.

This is a historic neighborhood in Naples where dozens of small streets like this are dark even in the daytime.  I see a lot of laundry hung by clotheslines above the streets, but is it the only reason the sunlight is blocked here, I wonder?

Naples gives me a kind of culture shock, which is definitely different from what I feel in other places in Italy.  The mystery I think I saw in this street may hold a key to understand what it really is.

                                             (detail) 

Napoli, Italy IV

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 18.5 x 7 in.
Mat Size: 26 x 13 in. (Mat color: white)
Purchase: Sold

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Procida, Italy VII, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Procida, Italy VII (detail)

 

 

When approaching the island of Procida by boat, we first saw this harbor view.  It was beautiful and exciting, but the thought of painting it was, at first, a little bit daunting.

All the buildings, although colorful, looked old with weathered walls and they seemed to be piling up on top of one another.  We could see scooters and people busily moving about near a main square (where the church is).  On the water, fishing boats and pleasure boats were bobbing and seagulls were floating...

Painting all these little elements individually would have captured the unique character of this island but I tried to capture the atmosphere first and painted everything in one go.


   Procida, Italy VII


Procida, Italy VII

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 5 x 21 in.
Mat Size: 10 x 27 in. (Mat color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

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Procida, Italy VI, Italian Landscape Painting

 


Procida, Italy VI

 

 

To me, selection of a subject matter is usually a one-shot approach.  But when I am hopelessly taken with a particular scene, I paint it again and again.  The first painting is naturally the most direct expression of my emotional response to it, but I feel I have more freedom in subsequent paintings as I get to know the subject better.  So I play with designs, colors, forms, etc.  Sometimes I even change the time of day or the weather with a little help of imagination (Read my related blog post Power of Imagination).

A sunset scene at a small harbor on an island called Procida is one of those that captivated me so much.  See a coupe of paintings I did before this one:

  


Procida, Italy VI

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 7.5 x 5.5 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Sorrento, Italy III, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Sorrento, Italy III

 

 

The Sorrento lemon.  In my previous posts (Sorrento I, Sorrento II), I talked about this juicy, fragrant citrus fruit from the sun-drenched Sorrentine Peninsula near the Amalfi Coast.  I can't start this post without mentioning it again because it was this lemon that prompted me to make today's painting.

When one sees this citrus trees everywhere in this region, no one will doubt growing lemons has been an serious business here.  The quality and the demand of the fruit being high, and the taste unmatched, I heard the growers of this lemon follow the strict rules to maintain the IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) status (read more on this).

Many families here have also grown this lemon around their house just for them.  So it is just not a business.  It is also a tradition for local people.  It is a part of their life.  That's probably why I was so attracted to the color of buildings on this street.  Lemon-yellow walls seemed to speak to me about a way of life of people in Sorrento.


Sorrento, Italy III

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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Portofino, Italy III, Italian Landscape Painting


Portofino, Italy III

 

I will be participating in an art fair this coming weekend (October 3).   No, it won't be in Portofino but it will be in a pretty coastal town of Del Mar, 20 miles north of San Diego, California.

Del Mar has a charming ambiance which reminds visitors of a cozy Mediterranean seaside village.  Del Mar is also close to my home so I have done this art fair in the last few years and always enjoyed it a lot.  I am returning as an exhibitor to this venue and look forward to having a good time again.  Please join us if you're going to be near San Diego this Saturday (For more details, visit event website). 

 

 

Portofino, Italy III

 

Click here for a larger view of this painting.

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in. (on 12 x 9 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Gondolier, Venice IX, Italian Landscape Painting


Gondolier, Venice IX

 

Anything that has gained huge popularity, or anybody who has attained an enormous success, usually finds a group of people who love to hate them. Venice is no exception.  While many (including myself) fall in love with the place, some people scorn.  They think it is just like Disneyland and is not worth spending their time and money there.

At an art show several months ago, I met a couple.  The husband commented on my Venice painting and added that he loved Venice.  The feeling was not mutual with his lovely wife.  She said, "Oh, I hate Venice.  It's dirty and smelly!"  Well, in Venice, there is no Disney employees who would sweep up trash on a street as soon as they find it.  Canals and buildings are old and real and may come with stain and smell.  So, she was right, in a way, if she was saying Venice was no Disneyland.


Gondolier, Venice, Italy IX


A large digital image 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 availability.

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More Paintings of Assisi, Italy, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Assisi, Italy III

 

 

Here are more paintings of the medieval town of Assisi, Italy.

Assisi III shows a closer look of the Basilica di San Francesco.  Assisi IV is another panoramic view of the town and its surrounding landscapes.

The basilica, a burial place of St. Francis as everyone knows, looks almost white, but its color changes depending on the weather.  It seems to absorb the colors of its environment.  It reflects the mood of a particular day and time.  It may also mirror the emotion of each one of us who visits this sacred place.

I hope to continue paitning Assisi in a series.  Click to view Assisi I and Assisi II


Assisi, Italy III

 

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



 Assisi, Italy IV
 

 

 

Assisi, Italy 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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Assisi, Italy II, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Assisi, Italy II

 

 

I had the pleasure of doing this watercolor painting as a commission after a client contacted me about my Assisi I painting.  She showed me several of her travel photos, which I used for a design purpose of this painting.

St. Francis of Assisi (1182 - 1226) is widely known as a lover of nature and someone who was able to communicate with animals.  He deeply cared about the environment.  He talked to the birds.  He preached to trapped animals.  He tamed a terrorizing wolf.  So the stories go.  If he lived now, in this age of global climate change and other critical environmental issues affecting all living creatures on earth, what would he tell us?

According to a Franciscan group's website (link), he would first tell us to "look at our attitudes and behaviors."  St. Francis knew that human sins, such as greed, ignorance and arrogance, were the causes of environmental destruction, human misery and suffering.  He would also want us to be "humble" and "see ourselves as part of the whole, dependent on the environment for our survival."  Regardless of our spiritual beliefs, this message of St. Francis should speak to us all.  It is so true and so easy to forget in everyday life.

 

Assisi, Italy II


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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Sorrento, Italy II, Italian Landscape Painting


Sorrento, Italy II

 

Lemon yellow was so striking.  That's one of the reasons I painted this scene.  At the end of a hot, sunny day, the yellow wall of this busy cafe seems to radiate the warmth of sunshine (and plenty of it) it has soaked up.

But the coolness of night is about to take over.  As I see shadows on the yellow wall getting longer and longer, I am reminded that everything will eventually come to an end -- even a long, lazy summer day in southern Italy that never seems to end.

Click here to see another painting "Sorrento, Italy I."


Sorrento, Italy II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Venice Twilight I, Italian Landscape Painting


Venice Twilight I

 

What attracts many landscape artists must be, first and foremost, the light in a scenery.  Dealing with all kinds of light conditions to paint requires a certain level of skill to make it work in a painting.  But that is something we all have to do and also greatly benefit from for our artistic growth.

Brief moments before and after sunset are really magical.  I think we are all moved to see last rays of direct sunlight or those reflected by the upper atmosphere onto the land's surface.  But it is interesting that our emotional reaction to it really varies, depending on our state of mind, the setting or location, the season, whether we are alone or in somebody else's company, etc.

This painting is my emotional response to the twilight in Venice on a particular day.  So if I paint another on the theme, it'll never be the same.  Another time, another interpretation.

Here's Claude Monet's "Venice Twilight."    


Venice Twilight I

Click here for a larger view of this painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Market Day, Venice, Italy II, Italian Landscape Painting


Market Day, Venice, Italy II

 

Following the theme of my daily painting from yesterday, I am showing another piece that depicts a market scene.  What I aimed at in this particular piece was to see if I could tell a story without saying too much.  I wanted to create a somewhat mysterious picture with suggestions of elements strewn around.

Some of the elements needed for this story were: cooler and moist air giving way to a hot summer day; a feel of a morning market in an outdoor setting with merchants busily moving about; local people starting their daily routine in a residential neighborhood in Venice.  I also challenged myself to see if a maximum effect could be achieved by using a limited palette and a wider range of tonal values.

This is one of my paintings that are featured in the current American Artist/Watercolor magazine (summer, 2009).  Click on this link to read an online version of the article.


Market Day, Venice, Italy II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Purchase: Private Collection

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Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City II, Italian Landscape Painting

 

St-Peter's Square, Rome, Italy

 

 

I like meeting art-loving people who come to see my works and talk with me when I do an outdoor art show.  It's nice to see them enjoy my paintings in person (but sometimes they challenge me with difficult questions!).  In a relaxed atmosphere, our conversation often advances from art to other topics.  We share stories of our travels and families, friends and pets -- and feel the power of art that connects us on a very personal level. 

At an art show I did earlier this year, a rather quiet man in the 50s or early 60s purchased my original watercolor of Saint Peter's Square.  He said to me, "this painting brings me back memories... I used to live just around the corner (from the square).  It was a long time ago."  I was intrigued what had taken him to Vatican City some 20 or 30 years ago, but we didn't have time for a further discussion.

A little while later, he emailed me to say that he'd like to purchase a similar painting if I had any.  He told me that it'd be a gift for his late son's girlfriend who happened to spend some time not far from the square for her study.  There was no need to ask for missing puzzle pieces to put together his stories to understand that Saint Peter's Square was a very special place for him and his family.  I made this painting in honor of his son and donated it to his family.  I am now listening to a CD he sent me with soothing, lovely music his son had recorded before his passing.


Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 7.5 x 9.5 in
Mat Size: 11 x 14 in
Purchase: Donated

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La Casa del Caffe, Rome, Italy, Italian Landscape Painting

 

La Casa del Caffe, Rome, Italy I

 

 

This coffee house, near the Pantheon in the heart of Rome, must be famous or their coffee must be real good as there was a constant stream of people coming in and out.  But to me, what was intriguing was a fleeting moment I happened to catch at the time I was there:  A couple hurriedly walked in this coffee house (They must be anxious to get the shop's popular espresso).  Old ladies were shooting the breeze at the corner (They must be neighbors, perhaps gossiping).  A group of students with backpacks were quite noisy (They must have just visited the Pantheon on a school field trip).  Buildings on both sides of this narrow alley had faded paint colors (They probably have been like this for who knows how long)...  Just a slice of daily life.  Nothing spectacular or noteworthy but the moment was captured in this painting.


La Casa del Caffe, Rome, Italy

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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More Paintings of Via Condotti, Rome, Italy

 

Roma, Italia I

 

 

When I paint a subject or a scene, I do it thinking it is a one-time shot.  Because the subject chooses me, not the other way around.  How am I supposed to know when or if it chooses me again?  That's why I take it seriously when an inspiration hits me.

After giving it all I got, I feel I'm done with it and ready to move on to another subject.  But some scenes are just addictive.  I keep going back to them, and every time they want me to paint something about them.  Via Condotti, a street leading up to the Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy is definitely one of those subjects for me.

First one (left) is a painting that I made back in 2005.  It holds a special place in my heart because it is one of my first paintings that got juried in and received an award in a national-level exhibition (Georgia Watercolor Society National Exhibition 2006).


Roma, Italia I (Passeggiata)

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21 x 14 in. (53 x 36 cm)
Purchase: Not for sale



 Roma, Italia XII


Roma, Italia XII

Click here for a larger view of this painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21 x 14 in. (53 x 36 cm)
Purchase: Please send me an email for availability.

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Roma, Italia XX, Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia XX

 

A street leading up to the Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps was filled with people.  Just before the sunset, the quality of light was marvelous to paint.  Many locals were enjoying the evening passeggiata (little walk) while a large number of tourists and vacationers were going to see the famous sight.

This particular street, Via Condotti, is now lined up with elegant shops of brand names and expensive restaurants, almost like Beverly Hills.  But this is Rome, an ancient city full of historical anecdotes.  In Roman times, it carried water to the Baths of Agrippa and it was named after conduits or channels (source: Wikipedia).

Trinita dei Monti, a 16th century church standing at the top of Spanish Steps, can be seen at the end of the street.


Roma, Italia XX

Click here for a larger view of this painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in (on 12 x 9 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Portofino, Italy II, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Portofino, Italy II

 

 

A quiet harbor with elegantly colorful buildings and lush green hills in the background -- This view may be one of the top reasons why people choose to visit Portofino.  That includes a lot of artists, too.  On any day, you may find somebody painting at or near the harbor.

Not just a quaint little fishing village, Portofino is also a playground for the rich and famous.  In fact, to the left of this scene were several gigantic super deluxe private boats on the day I visited there.  But I was too busy capturing the atmosphere of this special place to notice any celebrities who might have been walking by me.


Portofino, Italy II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Portofino, Italy I, Italian Landscape Painting


Portofino, Italy I

 

Portofino, tucked away between rugged cliffs, must be one of the most beautiful spots along the Italian Riviera coastline.  A short drive there from a nearby larger town of Santa Margherita Ligure is also fun as one spectacular scenery after another unfolds after each turn.  But only passengers can fully enjoy the coastal views.  The driver must pay full attention to the road which is really winding.  Once in town, there is no need for a car because it is so small you can walk from one end to the other in a few minutes... well, if you don't stop and appreciate the sheer beauty of what makes Portofino such a gem.


Portofino, Italy I

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Duomo, Milano Painting Commission


Duomo III (posted yesterday)

 

This painting was a commission piece (posted yesterday).  An owner of a new Italian restaurant on the island of Coronado (in San Diego) asked me last month to do a large piece of the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano).  He seemed to be very partial to this massive yet very elegant church as it was obvious from the look in his eyes.  Originally from Milan, he's now working as a very successful restauranteur in San Diego and is married to a lovely American lady.

I was excited!  When I was in Milan in 2007 and saw the cathedral, I thought, "Some day I am going to paint it."  But dreaming about it is one thing; actually doing it is another.  Looking at its size and architectually complex design, I was just not sure if I was ready to tackle it.  Then this request came.  Maybe it is time, I thought.

The process involved digging for some photos I took of the church and its surrounding area, followed by a visit to the restaurant to see the interiors and decor.  A soft, warm color and atmosphere inside really helped me decide the direction of this painting.  But the challenge was that, while the church is quite wide, my client needed a painting in a vertical format for the wall space where he wanted to hang it.  When I went back to show him the finished painting, he said, "I love it."  It was a moment of great relief and ultimate joy for me.


   
    Here are some of my pictures I used for reference (Duomo and its square).


I made a few studies first that I am going to show you today.

      
   Study of Duomo, Milano I                      Study of Duomo, Milano II


Study of Duomo, Milano I & II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in. (on a 12 x 9 in paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Duomo, Milano, Italy III, Italian Landscape Painting


Duomo, Milano, Italy III

 

I am happy to announce that I have joined Daily Painters International Art Gallery.  Visit the DPIAG blog site and get inspired by works of painters who are dedicated to painting every day.  It's a very interesting group of artists from all over the world!


 

Duomo, Milano, Italy III

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 29.25 x 21.75 in (74 x 55 cm)
Purchase: Sold

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Milano, Italy IX, Italian Landscape Painting


Milano, Italy IX

 

As I have shown on my daily blog in the past week or so, Milan is not just another characterless big city.  The image as a business center may be strong but it has many faces that make it very unique and friendly.

Although many streets in the city center may look like the one depicted in this painting, to those who know, this is clearly Milan.  To me, for example, cables criss-crossing the air are an instant reminder of the city.  They suggest a slice of urban life of the Milanese who love their yellow-bodied, old-fashioned streetcars (more on trams).

I enjoy visiting Milan because here we see a different side of Italy that may not be represented in other parts of the country.  I even think that we don't really know Italy unless we get to know Milan better.



Milano, Italy IX


Click here for a larger image of "Milano, Italy IX" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 14 x 18 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Milano, Italy VIII, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Milano, Italy VIII

 

 

When I was walking in a residential neighborhood in the city of Milan, a waiter popped out of a bar with a cup of espresso on a tray.  He was on an important mission of delivering this tiny ceramic cup to a regular customer.  He hurriedly disappeared into one of the buildings nearby so whoever ordered the coffee would still see the steam rising from the cup.

It happened so quickly (maybe 2 or 3 seconds) but it did bring me back to about 20 years ago when I was an officer worker in Tokyo, Japan.

My colleagues and I normally sipped coffee made in our coffee machine, but once in a while we indulged ourselves by ordering coffee from a nearby coffee shop.  It was usually the youngest one among us to take orders from everyone and pick up the phone to call the shop.  When the waitress arrived with a tray, our office was filled with a nice aroma of freshly brewed coffee...


"No coffee can be good in the mouth that does not first send a sweet offering of odor to the nostrils."
  -- Henry Ward Beecher


Milano, Italy VIII

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in.

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Milano, Italy VII, Italian Landscape Painting

 

As shown in my previous "How I Paint" blog posts, my typical painting process consists mainly of two stages: first wash and detail work.

 

Sometimes I start off with a rather soft wash and later layer subsequent washes to achieve the desired tonal values overall.

At other times, I begin with a bolder approach in that I carefully put in just the right amount of pigments and the right choice of colors in my first wash so the painting almost looks finished from the beginning.  The key in this method is to establish the broader scale of tonal values at the initial stage.  I took this approach to make today's painting.

 




Milano, Italy VII

Media: original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21 x 14 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Milano, Italy VI, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Milano, Italy VI

 

 

Piazza del Duomo, the most important square in the heart of Milan, is always crowded with locals, tourists and pigeons.  In the middle stands a statue of Vittorio Emanuele II, " father of the fatherland."

With the Duomo (cathedral) on one side, the square is surrounded by other elegant buildings such as the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (shopping arcade) and the Royal Palace.  Since this square is vehicle-free, we can look up and be dazzled by the sheer beauty and the grand scale of the Duomo without worrying about the traffic.

As the evening approaches after a long day, the top of the buildings are now receiving the last rays of summer sun.  And pigeons are enjoying the last meal of the day before flying up to the nearby buildings to rest.  And the square that has seen thousands of people coming and going all day will finally be quite down a little bit.


Milano, Italy VI

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in.
Purchase: Private Collection

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Milano, Italy IV, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Milano, Italy IV

 

 

You feel it.  You see it.  That vibrant energy typical of any bustling, thriving urban environment dominates much of the city of Milan.  Being the biggest metropolis in Italy and one of the largest in Europe, Milan gets you excited if you enjoy being in a big city.  On any weekday, you see more men and women dressed in neat business attires on the streets than probably any other city in Italy.

The city is also known as a hub for all kinds of trade fairs, which is another reason that it attracts more business people.  FieraMilano is ranked at the top as an international trade fair site and will host the 2015 Expo - World Fair.  According to Wikipedia, the World Fair is the third largest event in the world, after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games, in terms of economic and cultural impact.  Italy's most sophisticated, trendy center of commerce is set to grow even bigger.


Milano, Italy IV

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14 x 21 in.
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Milan, Italy III, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Milano, Italy III

 

 

Buildings of neo-classical architectural design are plenty in Milan.  I am not quite a painter of photorealism, so it was a challenge for me to attempt to simplify the scene without losing a characteristic flavor of this style.

This area in the western part of the old Milan is close to one of the major sights: Santa Maria delle Grazie, the church where Da Vinci's painting Last Supper can be seen (I said "can be" because advanced reservations are mandatory to see it).

It was unfortunate of me that the only day I could be in Milan was Monday -- the church was closed.  Now I have one good reason to go back!


Milano, Italy III

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14 x 21 in.
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Milano, Italy II, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Milano, Italy II

 

 

This is a small sketch of one of the streets not far from Duomo.  The scene was nothing special, really.  An ordinary-looking alley with a car, a man and a scooter.  But I was walking past it at the right time.  When the last rays of sunlight hit buildings at the end of the alley, soft colors of pink and yellow glowed.... all of a sudden I saw a painting.

Many landscape artists will tell you to go out either early in the morning or at dusk to catch a more dramatic light condition to paint.  As a painter who happens to be fascinated with street scenes and light, I respond very strongly to the stimulus of light coming into a dark alley like this, creating mysterious shadows all around.


Milano, Italy II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 9.5 x 7.5 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 14 x 11 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Milano, Italy I, Italian Landscape Painting


Milano, Italy I

 

I have been making a series of Milan paintings and several of them were recently purchased by an owner of an Italian restaurant group in San Diego.  He is, of course, from Milan.

Milan is big and chic.  Everybody knows it as one of the world's capitals of fashion and design.  It's a shame many visitors to Italy bypass Milan to go to Venice, Florence and Rome.  I'd like to show you a different painting of this exciting city in the following days.  Hope you'll enjoy!

I will start a "tour" right here in the square where the famous Duomo stands (Duomo is not shown in this painting).


Milano, Italy I

Click here for a larger image of Milano, Italy I.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 21 x 14 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Cortona, Italy IV, Italian Landscape Painting


Cortona, Italy IV

 

Via Nazionale -- All the guidebooks point out this is the only flat street in the hilltop town of Cortona.  That means many others are quite steep and they really are ! (But often you are rewarded with a stunning view of the valley below).

So let's discuss a little whether tourism brought on by the media hype was good or bad for Cortona (more on this: Cortona III).  Several years back, a similar event hit Provence in the south of  France.  Popularity of books on Provence by British writer Peter Mayle (who himself moved to the region) resulted in tourists crowding quaint villages and steeper real estate prices.  Some were even mad that Mayle had ruined their Provence.

Was it really so?  Mayle's response was: "Without tourism, I think you'd see a lot less care in the maintenance of buildings, churches and chateaux.  And most important, I don't think you'd see people bothering to open businesses down here.  The good that tourists do and bring far outweighs the bad."

Well, outsiders like me are not in the position to agree or disagree with his opinion.  Has the change after the hype been welcomed by locals?  Whatever the answer, I think that's what matters.


Cortona, Italy IV

Click here for a larger image of Cortona, Italy IV.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Cortona, Italy III, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Cortona, Italy III

 

 

Cortona -- to some of us, Frances Mayes' book "Under the Tuscan Sun" (1996) may be the first thing that comes to mind.

She was a professor from San Francisco who fell in love with an old house in Cortona and bought and renovated it.  She then published a book about her new life in Italy.  It became a New York Times Bestseller and was for a long time.

Then the Hollywood movie (starring Diane Lane) under the same title followed (2003).  So many people were introduced, for the first time, to beautiful Tuscan landscapes and la dolce vita in Italy.

All of this and more helped Cortona become a very popular tourist destination.  Even today there are people who decide to visit there because of the book/movie.  It is true that small towns need tourism, but is the media hype really a good thing?  I guess that would be another topic...


Cortona, Italy III

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (9 x 12 in. paper)

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Cortona, Italy II, Italian Landscape Painting


Cortona, Italy II

 

Cortona is another charming hilltop town in eastern Tuscany.

The road from a larger town of Arezzo took us through dozens of olive groves, vineyards and several small towns before we caught sight of Cortona.  It was quite a climb up the hill to get to the town square, Piazza Garibaldi (elevation appr. 1,600 ft).

Views from the town square were, just as we had expected, breathtaking.  Seen in the upper right corner is Lake Trasimeno, the largest lake in this part of Italy.  About 20km from Cortona, the lake actually situated in the Umbria region, not far from Perugia.


Cortona, Italy II

Click here for a larger image of "Cortona, Italy II" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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View from Piazzale Michelangelo (Florence, Italy) II

 

View from Piazza Michelangelo (Florence, Italy) II

 

 

For trees in the typical Tuscan landscape, we can easily think of cypress, olive and grape vines.  They are indispensable elements to paint in a believable painting of Tuscany.

While marveling at a majestic view of rooftops of city of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo, I spotted a few prominent-looking palm trees on a hillside.  Palm trees?  At first, they looked out of place because, in my mind, they were the image of tropics.

But soon I was reminded that most of Italy belonged to a Mediterranean climate zone and there should be no surprise palms growing in Florence, too.  I should have known better as someone who lives in a similar climate (San Diego, California) and see lots of palm trees every day.


View from Piazzale Michelangelo (Florence, Italy) 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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Firenze, Italy IV, Italian Landscape Painting


Firenze, Italy IV

 

I love walking around Florence.  Many streets in the city center are narrow and sidewalks are even narrower or almost nonexistent.  Traffic may be constant with cars, buses and vespas.  Bicycles could appear out of nowhere and give me a heart attack if I am not careful (I am often busy trying to find perfect spots for my photos).

But there's something uniquely attractive about streets of Florence and I love it.  Feeling its rich history, culture and art gives me goose bumps.  When I miss walking in Florence, I turn to hundreds of photos I took there and paint from them so I can feel as if I'm there.

Not too long ago, I discovered Florence street view was available on Google Maps.  A virtual tour lets you walk with locals and tourists as you pass by Ponte Vecchio, a tobacco shop, restaurants, etc., etc.  Although I don't use these images for my paintings, it is fun and does bring back memories.


Firenze, Italy IV

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 16 x 12 in.
Mat Size: 22 x 18 in. (color: off-white)
Purchase:
Sold

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Sorrento, Italy I, Italian Landscape Painting


Sorrento, Italy I

 

With Memorial Day (U.S.) considered to be the unofficial start of summer, we are feeling excited about all the things we can enjoy in this season.

Limoncello is one of my summertime favorites.  The dazzling color of yellow of this famous Italian lemon liqueur, reminds me of the bright sun in southern Italy.  Since lemons used to make limoncello are traditionally from the region near Sorrento, it was a perfect place for me to paint yesterday... to celebrate the beginning of summer and all the fun it will bring.

If you'd like a recipe for authentic limoncello, here's one to try (Courtesy: Slow Travel Italy).


Sorrento, Italy I

Media: original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size 14 x 18 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Perugia, Italy IV, Italian Landscape Painting


Perugia, Italy IV

 

Umbria is an inland region in central Italy and is hilly and rugged in most parts.

While traveling through the region, it is fun to look for old towns and villages perched on top of hills.  These hilltop villages are quite picturesque among lush green mountains and fields below.  If you get to the top of these communities, the views from there are even more stunning.

However, I heard some of them have long become ruins and some others are having a hard time surviving as many residents have moved out.  Fortunately, Perugia, being the capital of Umbria, is one of those that are thriving.


Perugia, Italy IV

Click here for a larger image of "Perugia, Italy IV" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Venezia II, Venice Italy Painting


Venezia, Italy II

 

Venice cannot be Venice without its canals and lagoons.  Venice depends on the water that surrounds and cuts through it.

The huge Venetian lagoon is especially important not just for transportation but also as a unique ecosystem.  When fresh water from rivers and salt water from the Adriatic Sea meet here, interesting things happen.  One example is an abundance of fish that makes Venice one of the best places for fresh seafood.

Underneath these gondolas and far out near the horizon, there could be sea bass, mullet, eel, cod, squid, octopus, clams, crabs, just to name a few.  Mullet cooked in red wine is one of the regional dishes, but why do they use red wine?  Isn't it normally white for fish?  It's the lagoon.  It gives the fish a distinct (heavier and stronger) flavor that goes better with red.  Here are recipes of some of the popular Venetian dishes.


Venezia, Italy II

Click here for a larger image of "Venezia II" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 9.5 x 7.5 in.
Mat Size 14 x 11 in. (color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

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Gondolier VI, Venice Italy Painting


Gondolier VI

 

Gondoliers - masterful navigators on the waters of Venice.  If canals of Venice are a concert hall, gondoliers are like a frontman or a lead singer who sings the heart and soul of its water music. 

Many of us have the image of gondoliers being good singers.  Some gondoliers do sing well although there are those who don't.  So, if they don't, what do they do?  I don't know how true this is but when a woman asked a gondolier if he sings, he replied, "Madame, there are the lovers and there are the singers.  I do not sing (from Rick Steves website)."


Gondolier, Venice, Italy VI

Click here for a larger image of "Gondolier VI" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 18.25 x 6.5  in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 24 x 11.5 in. (color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

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Siena, Italy II (Il Palio), Italian Landscape Painting


Siena, Italy II

 

It was the day of Il Palio, Siena's famed horse racing festival.

Il Palio is held twice a year: July 2 and August 16.  They are possibly the most important dates of the year for many people living in this medieval hilltop town in Tuscany.  On these days, horses representing the town's various neighborhoods run on the huge town square called Piazza del Campo.  A winning horse brings the impeccable glory and the bragging rights to the neighborhood that hosted it.  So it is a serious game and so much time and energy is invested all year in each neighborhood, I heard.

The morning sunlight was already intense.  The streets were filled with people getting ready for the biggest event of the year.  Colorful banners were hung from virtually every window of the buildings.  Excitement was building up.  The race would be on shortly...


Siena, Italy II (Il Palio)

Click here for a larger image of "Siena, Italy II" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 16.5 x 14  in.
Mat: Available
Mat Size: 24 x 20 in. (color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

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Perugia, Italy V, Italian Landscape Painting


Perugia, Italy V

 

Years ago I first heard of Perugia when a Japanese friend of mine went there to study Italian at the University for Foreigners.  She would send me a picture postcard from time to time, telling me about her new friends, neighbors and life in Italy.  I had a chance to visit this charming Umbrian town long after she had lived there, but it didn't quite feel like the first time because of all I had heard.

By the way, I have been a fan of Baci just as long as I have known Perugia.  Baci (meaning kisses in Italian) is a name of popular chocolate with hazelnut filling made by Perugina.  Those delicious morsels in signature silver and blue wrapping are irresistible.  A birthplace of Baci, Perugia is no doubt a chocolate capital of Europe.


Perugia, Italy V


Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25  in. (on 12 x 9 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Trattoria IV, Venice Italy Painting


Trattoria, Venice IV

 

This trattoria is a couple of doors down the alley from another one I painted (See another painting of Trattoria I posted a few days ago).

There is something about al fresco (outdoor) dining that makes it a different experience from indoor dining.  And people seem to love it.  It is true that eating outdoors is not always perfect (For example, I had to put up with at least one annoying mosquito at an outdoor pizzeria in Venice and I hate mosquitoes!) but whatever that makes it a little unpleasant is usually a small price to pay.

Al fresco dining means the smell of air, the sound (or noise), the weather, the temperature, and everything that can be seen directly affect our senses while eating.  They all come in a package.

Sitting at an outdoor table of a trattoria, I enjoyed the cooling air after a sweltering day; I watched families enjoying an evening stroll; I heard neighbors talking; I saw a man from a grocery store pass by with a cartload of stuff... and the sound and smell of somebody making dinner inside one of nearby houses... All this made my dinner that night unforgettable.


Trattoria, Venice, Italy IV

Click here for a larger image of "Trattoria, Venice, Italy IV" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25  in. (on 12 x 9 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Tuscan Vineyard III, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Tuscan Vineyard III

 

 

Yesterday I received an email that said, "We are in a position to offer oil painting to you with excellent quality and competitive price.  Image of works will be sent for your reference if you need.  Thank you."  A little background check revealed that the sender was from China.  I suspect it came from one of those factories where factory workers/artists copy illegally original works of other artists.  I am not interested in having copies of my works made (and in oils!).

Reproducing or re-painting one's own work is a different issue, however.  Once in a while I get asked if I have reproductions of my paintings.  Out of thousands of originals, I have made giclee prints of five of them so far at the request of my customers.  Sometimes I get asked to paint the same or similar subject by my customers.  Sometimes I paint the old subject when I get the urge to do it again although this rarely happens.

This painting of a panoramic view from the edge of town of Arezzo, Italy, is a "repeat" of a much larger work I did a few years ago (Tuscan Morning, Vist; 18 x 28.75 in.).  Last week I was looking at my digital images of my trip to Tuscany and the mood of this place hit me, again.  Not quite remembering how I approached my previous painting of this scene, I felt fresh in doing this version.

Words of wisdom from Canadian artist Robert Genn on resurrection: "You have to look at the project with new eyes.  When you take this approach, you'll find the resurrected one may have a fresher spin than in its previous life.  Always ask 'What could be?'  An artist's personal evolution is a playground of unending curiosity and abiding strength... Resurrection is part of our game, but it can be a tricky wicket."


Tuscan Vineyard III

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in paper)
Mat Size: 14 x 18 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Trattoria III, Venice Italy Painting

 

Trattoria, Venice, Italy III

 

 

To the east of the crowded San Marco square, we wandered into narrow streets that looked ordinary.  There were visibly fewer tourists and more locals; there was no souvenir shop but hanging laundry above our heads.

We found a small family-run trattoria on a quiet alley.  With simple white tablecloths and plastic patio chairs, this was a no-frills eating place.  Menu was hung on the outside wall and written - you guessed it - only in Italian on a paper that had buckled and yellowed.  A husband and wife who seemed to be running this place sat at a table to chat with neighbors when not busy.

We wanted to eat light so looked at pasta and pizza choices: Margherita, carciofi, prosciutto, alle cozze, alle vongole, 4 stagioni... and del Nonno (Grandpa's).  We tried a Margherita pizza and spaghetti with clams and it was remarkably satisfying.  Yes, the food was good but the coziness of the trattoria really made us feel like eating at home.

I heard many times that, when Italians want Mamma's pasta so badly, they are feeling homesick.  On an upcoming Mother's Day, many people will think of their mother... and all the fond memories with her that would most likely include their own version of "Mamma's pasta."  Happy Mother's Day to you all!


Trattoria, Venice, Italy III

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 10 x 6.25  in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 15 x 10 in. (color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

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Market Day, Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy, Italian Landscape Painting

Market Day, Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy

 

 

It happened to be a market day when we were in Santa Margherita Ligure, a charming seaside town on the Italian Riviera near Portofino.  There were modest-looking tents on the town square and vendors were displaying fruits and vegetables in all colors.

From alleys leading to the square, ladies started arriving with a shopping bag in hand.  Some looked dressed very nicely, in cardigan and skirt, with their hair perfectly coiffed.

Buildings in this town are strikingly colorful.  Facades in warm colors (pink, orange, yellow, burgundy, peachy...) with green or blue shutters are simply a visual delight.

To paint this alley with a lady shopper, I simplified everything I saw in order to get the essence of the atmosphere of a backstreet of Santa Margherita Ligure on a sunny morning.


Market Day, Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 9.5 x 7.5  in.
Mat/Frame: Yes
Frame Size: 14 x 11 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Firenze, Italy VI, Italian Landscape Painting


Firenze, Italy VI

 

Most visitors to Florence go up to Piazza Michelangelo to enjoy this panoramic view of Italy's Renaissance city.  Almost everyone takes pictures there.  The sight is just incredible.  It's a natural response to something as beautiful as this view that we want to capture the experience of seeing it and being there.

What about us painters?  When moved by what we see, our first thought is usually, "Oh, I want to paint it," isn't it?  It didn't matter that hundreds, or possibly thousands, of paintings have been made of this view of Florence.  I had to paint it, too, simply because I was moved.  So I thought.

As I was painting this, I began to ponder the age-old question of "Why we paint."  So why am I painting this?  Is it because I have been inspired by the atmosphere?  Is it because I want to record the beauty of something transient?

Artist Jerry Fresia said something of note on this question - "The painting is not the most important thing.  Even more important than the painting we make is what happens to us when we make it.  So this is the important truth: to make a mark on a canvas is to open the door of possibility of being moved profoundly and to move others.  That is what painting is all about.  That is the heart and soul of painting."


Firenze, Italy VI

Click here for a larger image of "Firenze, Italy VI" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 14 x 18 in. (color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

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Procida, Italy I, Italian Landscape Painting


Procida, Italy I

 

When the famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was in exile in the 1950s, he spent some time on the island of Capri in southern Italy.  His life there was depicted in my favorite Italian movie Il Postino.  Part of the movie was filmed on a nearby island Procida.

This movie has a sad ending, but there are many funny scenes that are so unforgettable that I can see them in my head.  One is that when Mario, a shy postman who delivers mail for Neruda, fell madly in love with Beatrice, a beautiful barmaid, he couldn't say anything to her.  So he asked 'Don Pablo' to write him a poem for Beatrice.

Neruda got furious, saying, "I don't even know her!  A poet needs to know the object of his inspiration.  I can't invent something out of nothing!"  Mario couldn't understand.  He reacted, frustrated, "If you make all this fuss over one poem, you're never going to win that Nobel Prize!"  Neruda, then, wanted Mario to pinch him and wake him from 'this nightmare.'

Poetry was Neruda's art and those words prove that he was a true artist.  Neruda later won the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Procida, Italy I

Click here for a larger image of "Procida, Italy I" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 9.5 x 7.5 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes
Frame Size: 14 x 11 in..
Purchase: Sold

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Procida, Italy II, Italian Landscape Painting


Procida, Italy II

 

When I want to watch the movie with a very touching story and breath-taking sceneries, "Il Postino" is always one of my top choices.

This Italian film is about Mario, a naive mail carrier and how his meeting with Pablo Neruda, a famous Chilean poet, changed his life.  It blew my mind in many ways when I first saw it, and I watched it many times thereafter (Click here to read a related post on Neruda's Poetry).

One of the things that captivated me so strongly was a setting of this film: A poor Italian fishing village on a tiny island in the 1950's.  Maybe a place like this doesn't exist in today's Italy any more, but when I finally visited Procida last year, I felt like I came back to an island I had known for a long time.


Procida, Italy II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 7.5 x 9.5 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes
Purchase: Private Collection

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Venice Canal IV, Venice Italy Painting


Venice Canal IV

 

Just how many different kinds of artist's palettes are being sold is anybody's guess.  Speaking for watercolor artists, at an art store or art supply online site, there is a wide variety of palettes available.  One with lots of wells, one with open wells, plastic, porcelain, butcher tray, round, rectangular, large and small... Choices are so many it's overwhelming.  It must be especially so for beginners (I've been there!).

Being able to make a choice is nice, but the problem is, you never know which type works best for you until you actually use it.  After trying several kinds, I decided an open-well type should be ideal for my painting style because it is so easy to pick up paints from wells onto a large mixing area as I paint quite fast.

This is a picture of my palette as I was painting "Venice Canal IV."





Venice Canal IV


Click here for a larger image of "Venice Canal IV" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x11.5 in.
Mat/Frame: Available/No
Mat Size: 14 x 18 in. (color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

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Venezia VII, Venice Italy Painting


Venezia VII

 

In painting this canal scene in Venice, I used one of my old paintings from 3 years ago as a reference source (shown below).  I painted "Venetian Holiday II-4" right after my visit to Venice in 2006.  While my memory was still fresh, I used a couple of photos and a sketch to make the painting.

Three years later, traveling down memory lane, I find myself still remembering some but not all the things that my senses had captured during the trip.  The older our memory gets, the fuzzier and simpler (or forgotten!) it becomes.  Good memories may come back as glorified images and bad memories as nightmares.

I thought, for today's painting, it would be interesting to revive my 3-year-old travel memory and see what I'll come up with.  So, I spent a few minutes gazing at "Venetian Holiday II-4" painting and try to remember the feel of the place...

    "Venetian Holiday II-4" (2006) as reference


And, this is how I made a new painting:

 Compositionally, I didn't make a big change but decided to take a more close-up look.

  I painted all the buildings in one go.

 Then I brought the colors of buildings down to the water, and then added finishing touches.

  I ended up with a more abstract painting with a different mood in it.  It's more romantic, if I may say so.


Venezia VII

Click here for a larger image of "Venezia VII" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in. (on 9 x 12 in. paper)
Purchase: Sold

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Helping Italian Earthquake Victims


Assisi, Italy I

 

I was sad to hear the news of a deadly earthquake in central Italy last week.

I love Italy, have friends there, and have countless good memories from travels in the country.  So I've felt I had to do something to help.  I also grew up in Japan where earthquakes are so common that I understand what it means to be living in an earthquake-prone region.

Since the 6.3-magnitude tremor on April 6 in the town of L'Aquila, several aftershocks have hit the area.  Hundreds were killed, thousands were injured, tens of thousands were left homeless.

I was immediately reminded of the 1997 quake that severely damaged the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, which is not so far from L'Aquila.  After a long restoration effort, the church is open again.

In the hope of helping the people affected by the last week's disaster, I'd like to donate all proceeds from the sale of this painting of Assisi.  If you're interested, please email me the amount you'd like to pay for this painting (starting price $100).  Bidding ends midnight Monday, April 13.  I will send this painting (retail value over $300) to the highest bidder and donate all proceeds to American Red Cross International Response Fund to help with the L'Aquila Earthquake recovery process.


Assisi, Italy I

Click here for a larger image of "Assisi, Italy I" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 12 x 16 in. 
Mat/Frame: No
Purchase: Sold (all proceeds were donated to American Red Cross)

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Four Gondoliers, Venice Italy Painting


Four Gondoliers, Venice

 

Venice -- the only place where you can get seasick by crossing the street.  (Anonymous)

Water buses, barges, fast-speed boats and of course, gondolas... Canal Grande looked so busy sometimes every boat seemed to be going in a different direction.  Then, I was amused when I saw this: I caught a moment when four gondoliers made this formation as if they were rowing side by side.

Volume of traffic on major waterways in Venice can be pretty high during rush hours.  It always amazes me how well they maneuver their vessel to avoid accidents.  But as on any street, there are people who tend to speed to the point of breaking traffic rules.  To make the situation better, they now have an innovative system (called ARGOS) installed to monitor traffic on Canal Grande.  It is quite fun to see real-time traffic on the ARGOS website.


Four Gondoliers, Venice, Italy

Click here for a larger image of "Four Gondoliers, Venice, Italy" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8 x 6 in.
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 12 x 10  in. (color: off-white)
Purchase: Sold

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Venezia VI, Venice Italy Painting

 

Wearing a starkly white mariner's jacket, black trousers and a straw hat, they proudly do their job of rowing a sleek gondola along the canals of Venice, Italy.  There are reasons why they look so proud, one of which may be because becoming a gondolier is not an easy thing to do (read related post).

Here's how I painted the 6th of my Venezia series.  Sometimes people ask me if I use masking fluid.  My answer is no; I don't even have any.  I try to leave the white of the paper for highlights, but if I lose it, that's fine.  I gently scrub the paint off or use white paint later!


   First, I work the part above the horizon line, and then on the foreground.

  Colors look a lot lighter when the first wash is dry. 


  Paint in all the gondolas by trying not to look at them individually.

 

 

  Finished.

Venezia VI

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

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Venezia III, Venice Italy Painting

 

Venezia III

 

 

As the night falls, the air is rapidly cooling off and the calmness returns to the lagoon.  Gondoliers cover up their boats to hurry home for dinner.

A gondolier near the bottom-left corner is the only person in this scene.  In fact, there was nobody when I was drawing to make this painting.  I accidentally left a tiny spot of the white of the paper when I was laying down the first wash.  My mind's eyes immediately saw a gondolier in his traditional uniform right there.  Using thick pigment of blue, I painted in stripes, and voila, there he is.


    (detail of gondolier)

It is often said that watercolor is a very unforgiving medium; therefore, it is important to plan ahead.  It is also important, however, not to be too preoccupied with the "plan" so we can allow improvisation like this.

In the background is the majestic Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.  The contrast between soft background and sharp vertical lines of wooden posts adds depth into this scene.


Venezia III


A large image of this painting is available on request.

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 5.25 x 11.25 in.
Mat Size: 11 x 17 in.
Purchase: Please send me an email for availability.

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Venezia I, Venice Italy Painting


Venezia I

 

As I was sitting on the pier, another gondola came back to be moored.  All the other boats already parked for the night, this must be the last one.  A gondolier maneuvered his shiny, slender black boat, using only a long oar through tall posts and other boats.  Seeing up close, I never realized a silver ornament called ferro on the bow was so huge.  It must be heavy, too, as it works as a counterbalance to a gondolier's weight.  After he left, the clucking sound of the boats hitting choppy water echoed this side of the Venetian lagoon.

Everything in this painting was designed around the gondolier.  With him in the middle (a little to the upper left), I placed the boats, posts and the bell tower and the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, ripples of the water, all around him.


Venezia I

Click here for a larger image.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 9.5 x 7.5 in. (24x 19 cm)
Mat Size: 14 x 11 in
Purchase: Sold

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Roma, Italia II (Spanish Steps), Italian Landscape Painting


Roma, Italia II

 

I hope you can feel the intense heat of a Roman summer in the dry brushstrokes on the buildings and in the lost edges of the trees.  I hope you can hear the people laughing and talking and that you'll join them for the fun of being here.

The area around here is always full of people, especially in the summer.  I know it's a touristy thing to do but who could leave Rome without visiting the Spanish Steps?  And if you're lucky enough to be there, who wouldn't think about the romantic movie Roman Holiday?  Although there may be only a slim chance of meeting a royal princess here, you can pretend to be Gregory Peck or Audrey Hepburn while soaking up the Italian sun.

 


Roma, Italia II (Spanish Steps)

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 14 x 14 in. (36 x 36 cm) (Mat Size: 20 x 20 in)
Purchase: Sold

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Albergo Abruzzi, Rome, Italy III, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Albergo Abruzzi, Rome, Italy III

 

 

The summer sun is intense in Rome.  I took it rather lightly on my first visit there 15 years ago.  I walked non-stop and almost had heat stroke.  I think I was a little too enthusiastic wanting to see as much as possible during a brief stay.  So I was better prepared on my recent trip last year.

It was the intense summer sun that made me want to paint Albergo Abruzzi, a hotel at Piazza della Rotonda right next to the Pantheon.

A lot of buildings in Rome, including this one, sport amazingly warm colors in their often-weathered look.  Orange, red, pink, gold, sienna... They glow in the sun.  Even shadows look as if we could feel the radiant heat of the sun.


Albergo Abruzzi, Rome, Italy III

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 availability.

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Lago Maggiore I, Italian Landscape Painting


Lago Maggiore, Italy I

 

"If by chance you have a heart and a shirt, sell the shirt to see the surroundings of Lake Maggiore"
       - Stendhal

 

 

Lake Maggiore charmed me just like it did many people including the famous 19th century French author.  In 1817, Stendhal wrote, "Nothing in the world can compare to the fascination of these ardent days of summer spent on the lakes ... in the chestnut woods, so green they seem to have immersed their boughs in the water."

This view is one of the towns we passed by to the south of Stresa.  The blue water looked so quiet while the arrangement of town houses looked a little chaotic.  I was so amused by the contrast when I painted this piece.  This is one of the reasons why I never get tired of painting Italy.


Lago Maggiore, Italy I

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 9.5 x 7 in
Mat Size: 14 x 11 in. (Mat color: off-white)
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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Cavalletto II, Venice Italy Painting


Cavalletto, Venice II

 

The carnival in Venice that started on February 14 is about to end.  Party-goers will leave town soon and Venice will be just for its residents for a short while before travelers flock again to this famed canal city in spring.  But no matter when you visit, you almost always find a moment like the one in this painting and understand Venice does live up to its name - La Serenissima (the most serene).

One of the traditional sweets for the carnival in Venice is Frittelle and Galani.  Click here for recipes.




Cavalletto, Venice, Italy II

Click here for a larger image of "Caballetto, Venice II" painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in (on 12 x 9 in. paper)
Mat Size: 18 x 14 in.
Purchase: Sold

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Market Day II, Venice, Italy Painting


Market Day, Venice II

 

Talk about culture shock...

Long ago on my first visit to Venice, I was a student backpacking in Europe on a tight budget.  I couldn't afford a meal in a restaurant, so I headed to an outdoor produce market.  It was crowded with locals and tourists.  I thought I was doing a busy vendor a favor when I started helping myself like I would back home, but was I wrong!

As soon as I picked up my first piece of fruit to inspect it, my hand was slapped (well, gently) by a lady who seemed like a vendor's wife.  Here in Italy, you don't touch the produce; that's rude.  I should have waited for my turn to tell them what I wanted.

 

 


Market Day, Venice, Italy II


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

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Gondolier III, Venice Italy Painting


Gondolier, Venice, Italy III

 

I heard becoming a gondolier in Venice is a serious business.  According to eHow careers, first you have to (1) find a mentor willing to tutor you, then (2) attend a school to learn how to maneuver the gondola, and (3) practice, practice, practice!  When you think you're ready, (4) you take the exam offered by the Gondolier Association.  If you pass this very difficult exam, (5) you finally get your license to be an official gondolier.  The competition is fierce and there are only 400 licensed gondoliers in Venice. Wow, it sounds very serious.  But one thing maybe I'd like to see change in exam rules is the "singing is not required" part.  Wouldn't it be nice if we know our gondolier can serenade for us?

 

 


Gondolier, Venice, Italy III

Click here for a large view of this painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 6 x 8 in (15.2 x 20.3 cm)
Mat Size: 11 x 14 in
Mat Color: White
Purchase: Sold

Click to see more Venice Italy paintings on Keiko Tanabe website.

 

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Roma, Italia XIV, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Roma, Italia XIV

 

 

This is a busy scene with lots of things going on.  Can you hear... a cameriere busily serving coffee inside the bar, neighbors catching up on what's happened in each other's life, a man trying to join in the conversation from a balcony upstairs, and another opening a huge door to his apartment, and probably one or two vespas zipping by in the background (or foreground) every few seconds?  I don't even remember the name of this street in Rome, but I am glad that I captured this slice of daily life.  Another of my fond memories of the Eternal City.


Roma, Italia XIV

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in (21 x 29.2 cm)
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

Click to see more Italian Landscape paintings on Keiko Tanabe website.

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Roma, Italia X, Italian Landscape Painting

 

Roma, Italia X

 

 

Some streets in the world are so well-known that the name itself has become an icon of something many people can associate with: Wall Street, Abbey Road, La Rambla, Champs-Elysées, Appian Way... just to name a few.

This alley in Rome is definitely not one of those streets, as far as I know.  In fact, I could have easily walked past without looking if a glaring reflection on the car hadn't blinded me.  I turned to my right, and there I saw this view.  The whole atmosphere was so arresting I knew I had to paint it.

 


Roma, Italia X

A larger image of this painting is available on request.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in. (29.2 x 21 cm)
Purchase: Please send me an email for more information.

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A Boy in Vatican City, Italian Landscape Painting

A Boy in Vatican City

 

 

I spotted this Italian boy in Vatican City.  He was sitting on the steps that define the massive St. Peter's Square.  He was so absorbed feeding pigeons I doubt he ever noticed I was sketching the scene.

When I think of all the things I saw in and around Rome, I always remember the pure joy of watching him just being a kid.


A Boy in Vatican City

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 7.5 x 9.5 in (19.1 x 24.1 cm)
Mat Size: 11 x 14 in
Purchase: Sold

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Venezia II, Venice Italy Painting


Venezia, Italy II

 

At day's end, a gondolier brought back his gondola to be moored.  He said buona sera and disappeared into the crowd.

Looking out to the Venetian lagoon with the San Giorgio Maggiore church in the far distance.

 

 

Venezia, Italy II

Click here for a large view of this painting.

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 9.5 x 7.5 in (24.1 x 19.1 cm)
Mat Size: 14 x 11 in
Purchase: Sold

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Firenze, Italy VII, Italian Landscape Painting

Firenze, Italy VII

 

 

This is a street not far from the Ponte Vecchio in the city of Florence.

I see a painting virtually everywhere when I walk in Florence or elsewhere in Italy.  In fact, it is hard to keep walking as I have to stop and savor the atmosphere every few seconds.

Mark Twain said, "The Creator made Italy from designs of Michelangelo."  It must be true.


Firenze, Italy VII

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 11.5 x 8.25 in (29.2 cm X 21 cm)
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 18 x 14 in. (Mat color: white)
Purchase: Sold

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Firenze, Italy VI, Italian Landscape Painting


Firenze, Italy VI

 

This is a view of Florence, Italy from Piazzale Michelangelo on the other side of the Arno River.  A walk from the Ponte Vecchio to get here is long but definitely worth it for this lovely, panoramic view of the city.

 

 


Firenze, Italy VI

Click here for a large view of this painting.

Media: original watercolor
Image Size: 8.25 x 11.5 in (21 cm X 29.2 cm)
Mat/Frame: Yes/No
Mat Size: 14 x 18 in. (color: white)
Purchase: Sold

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Procida, Italy II, Italian Landscape Painting


Procida, Italy II

 

Sunset, a fishing village, a small island in Southern Italy ... Who can ask for more as a perfect setting? (read more about Procida).


Procida, Italy II

Media: Original watercolor on paper
Image Size: 7.5 x 9.5 in (19.1 x 24.1 cm)
Mat/Frame: Yes/Yes
Mat Size: 11 x 14 in. (mat color : white)
Purchase: Private Collection

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Giclee Prints Available at absolutearts.com

 

  Gondolier, VeniceV (original sold)

 

I'm pleased to announce that five images of my popular paintings are now available in prints from absolutearts.com.

These (except one) are limited-edition giclee professionally printed on high-quality watercolor paper and customers who bought them are really happy.  They are all signed and limited-editions are numbered.  A certificate of authenticity is included.

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Daily Painting - Cavalletto, Venice II



Cavalletto, Venice II

Original watercolor on paper

Image size: 11 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches (29 x 21 cm)

Visit my website to see more 
Venice Italy paintings.

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Daily Painting - Canal Grande, Venice II



Canal Grande, Venice II

Original watercolor on paper

Image size: 8 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Visit my website to see
more Venice Italy paintings.

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Daily Painting - Canal Grande, Venice I



Canal Grande, Venice I

Original watercolor on paper

Image size: 8 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Visit my website to see
more Venice Italy paintings.

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Holiday Stress?

 

Rise and Shine (Italian Alps)

 

 

In the outside world around this time of the year, stores are crowded; lines are horrendously long (especially at my post office); there seem to be more drivers on freeways screaming “get out of my way!”  You come home and find you still have cards to write, gifts to wrap, meals to plan for family gatherings, etc…  Feeling holiday stress?  Here’s my idea to feel a little calmer.

How long have you had those paintings in the same spots in your house and felt you’re kind of getting tired of looking at them?  You acquired a new piece recently but haven’t had time yet to give it a proper place on your walls?  Whether it’s your new work or somebody else’s you admire, hanging a new piece of art is just like a breath of fresh air.  Your holiday guests may appreciate it, too.

Speaking of hanging new art, that’s something U.S. President-elect Barack Obama may be doing, too.

While he has been busy selecting people for government positions in his new administration, he has to make decisions on art for the White House before he takes office next month.  Which paintings or sculptures will he choose to decorate the walls and halls?  I’ve found a video from Forbes.com  I’d like to share if you’re interested in previewing a few pieces including a $250,000 Abraham Lincoln drawing.  Will this be added to the White House Art Collection?  Enjoy your holiday season!

- Visit my website to see more Italian landscape paintings.

 

 

Rise and Shine (Italian Alps)

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 14 x 21 inches

Mat/Frame: No

Purchase: Sold

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It's Happening Again - Acqua Alta in Venice

 

Venice Canal II

 

 

Since December 1, Venice has been hit with acqua alta, high tide that is the worst in last twenty years.  News report said that "the tide peaked at 61 inches (156 centimeters), well past the 40-inch (110-centimeter) flood mark, as strong winds pushed the sea into the city."  YouTube has some videos that show how bad it has been (key words: high tide or acqua alta in venice).

Given the preparedness of the city’s residents, I cannot help feeling sorry for them for businesses lost, things damaged and daily lives ruined.  Thinking how Venice is built, I don’t really agree this is entirely a natural disaster and I certainly hope I can walk (and paint!) on dry streets the next time I visit.  As I talked previously in my blog (Venice and Mickey Mouse and Venice Magic), I believe Venice is one of the most beautiful and inspiring places in the world for artists.  May its magic live long!

Click here to see more Venice Italy paintings.

 

 

Venice Canal II

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 14 x 21 inches

Purchase: Sold

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Daily Painting - Market Day, Venice II



Market Day, Venice, Italy II

Original watercolor on paper

Size: 8 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Visit my website to see more 
Venice Italy paintings.

Read
related posts on my blog.

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Thinking of Madame Butterfly in Tuscany

 

Village Fountain, Lucca, Italy

 

 

You see it in Van Gogh’s work.  Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet and Whistler, among others, they incorporated it in their works, too.  In the mid-19th century, Japanese art was introduced to the Western Europe.  Many European artists then used Japanese design elements in their art.  Japonism helped them create works that were truly unconventional and exotic.

The Japanese influence was not just seen in paintings but it also spread to other forms of art.  Giacomo Puccini wrote "Madame Butterfly," one of the most popular operas today, inspired by a story about an American naval officer and a Japanese geisha girl who lived in Nagasaki, Japan in the 19th century.

Puccini was born in Lucca, Italy in 1858.  It is a lovely medieval town in Northern Tuscany.  His house is still there.  For 200 years until just before his birth, Japan was virtually isolated from the rest of the world because of its closed-door foreign policy.  When it ended, many things, including arts, were traded and exchanged across borders.  I can’t imagine the excitement people felt on both sides of the door!  The timing was just right for Puccini to create a masterpiece that reflected this historically dramatic event.

Lucca, by the way, is a great place to visit.  Walking is fun and easy as the streets are neatly laid out.  In one of the town’s many piazzas, I found a fountain that looked like a bath tub.  Soon, I also found it functioned like a watercooler for townspeople.  They came to collect water from there and chat.  Their centuries-old social networking system was alive and well -- although they love talking on the cell phone, too, nowadays.  If I could chat with Puccini by this fountain, I would most definitely ask what motivated him to write an opera based in a mysterious tiny island country in the Far East.

Click here to view more Italian landscape paintings.

 

 

Village Fountain, Lucca, Italy

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image: 9.5 x 7.5 inches

Purchase: Sold

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Daily Painting - Ponte di Rialto I



Ponte di Rialto, Venice, Italy I

Original watercolor on paper

Image size: 11 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches (29 x 21 cm)

Visit my website to see more Venice Italy paintings.

Read related posts on my blog.

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San Diego Watercolor Society Juried Exhibition Opening Reception


Roma, Italia XI (in display)

 

Please join us to celebrate the opening of San Diego Watercolor Society's (SDWS) Novevmber Juried Member Exhibition tomorrow, November 7, 5-8pm at the SDWS Gallery.  Free admission.  Free parking.

All the pieces chosen by juror Rich Hawk are original watercolor/watermedia paintings, and will be for sale and in display until November 29.  I have "Roma, Italia XI" (award) and "Julian Christmas I" in this show.

 

 

Roma, Italia XI

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 21.5 x 14.25 inches

Mat/Frame: No

Purchase: Please contact me for more details.

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Daily Painting - San Marco, Venice



Piazza San Marco, Venice

Original watercolor on paper

Image size: 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches (24 x 19 cm)

Visit my wesbite to see more Venice Italy paintings.

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Daily Painting - Roma, Italia XV



Roma, Italia XV

Original watercolor on paper

Image size: 8 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Visit my website to see more Italian landscape paintings.

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Daily Painting - Napoli, Italy IV



Napoli, Italy IV

Original watercolor on paper

Image size: 18 1/2 x 7 inches (47 x 18 cm)

Visit my website to view more Italian landscape paintings.

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Venice and Mickey Mouse

 

Venice Canal III-5 (12"x16", 2006)

 

 

For an artist, a visit to Venice can be visually overwhelming because everywhere you look you see a painting.  Its geography, landscapes, architectue, streets, and of course, canals and gondolas, are so uniquely Venetian and so unbelievably romantic.   No wonder many artists came here and fell in love with it as their painting subject.  I am one of them who have been mesmerized by its magic.

However, it is true some travelers compare it to a crowded, expensive theme park.  Some argue Venice should be turned into Disneyland.  That includes John Kay, a British economist, who also says the management by Walt Disney Co. would be the only solution to save this city from sinking, literally and economically.

I don’t want to see Venice disappear into the ocean so future artists will continue to be fascinated and inspired by its beauty.  But to compare it to a theme park with Mickey Mouse?  I feel it should be a mission for all Venice-loving artists to prove them wrong.

- Visit my website to see more Venice Italy paintings.

 

 

Venice Canal III-5

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 12 x 16 inches

Purchase: Sold

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Daily Painting - Roma, Italia XIV



Roma, Italia XIV

Original watercolor on paper

Image size:  8 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Visit my website to see more paintings in
my Italian Landscapes Collection.

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Daily Painting - Albergo Abruzzi III



Albergo Abruzzi, Roma, Italy III

Original watercolor on paper

Image size:  8 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches (21 x 29 cm)

Visit my website to see more paintings in
my Italian Landscapes Collection.

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Pittsburgh Watercolor Society Aqueous Open 2008 Exhibition


Bergamo VIII

 

The Pittsburgh Watercolor Society opened Aqueous Open, their annual international exhibition on September 26.  Selected paintings in this juried exhibition are currently being shown at the Third Street Gallery, in Carnegie, Pennsylvania.  The show runs through October 24.  I am happy to announce my watercolor painting Bergamo VIII in the show was given North Light Books Award by the juror, Linda Doll, AWS, NWS.

I am particularly delighted with the news because I painted Bergamo to celebrate a 20-plus-year-old friendship I have been enjoying with my Italian friend who lives in the city.  My recommendation for a place to stay in Bergamo: try this cozy, family-run bed and breakfast.

 

 

Bergamo, Italy VIII

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 21.5 x 14.25 inches

Mat/Frame: No

Purchase: Sold

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How I Paint (2) - Procida IV

 

My previous post on 9/17/08 "How I Paint (1) - Las Hermanas" was received well and some of you asked me to post more.  Here’s my second on-line demo of sorts.

   

For this one, I use several photographs such as the ones above I took on Procida, a small island in Southern Italy.  The photos show characteristics of the harbor pretty well, but from a design point of view, not everything is in the right place, so I know I will need to move things around a bit.  How to bring out my emotions about this island and the movie filmed here will be a challenge (Read my 9/29/2008 post on Pablo Neruda for more on this).  I think working from a limited palette of dominantly cool colors might be one solution.  Words like "quiet," "secluded," "timeless" and even "melancholic" swirl in my head as I think about the atmosphere I want to project in this piece.



First I do a quick drawing, adding no tiny details but I make sure I mark clearly all the important shapes. Then I proceed to paint, mostly wet-in-wet, to cover the whole surface of the paper, establishing different scales of values.


Moving from back to the front, I define the shapes of the buildings and fishing boats.  I don't like this painting to look too tight, so I try to have a good balance of hard and soft edges.


I want to warm up a little where the late afternoon sun hits, so I lay second and third washes on the buildings, boats and piers, using a brown/orange mixture while strengthening the tonal values especially in the foreground.  As finishing touches, I put in little details such as masts, ropes and seagulls.

 

I am happy that my initial vision is in this final painting.  I’d love to hear your critique!


Click here to see other paintings in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

 

 

Procida, Italy IV

 

Media: Original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 14.25 x 21.5 inches

Mat/Frame: No

Purchase: Sold

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My Favorite Subjects (3) - Venice Magic

"Market Day, Venice, Italy III" (2008)

 

Beyond the movie-like setting, you will find the ordinary Venetians living an ordinary life if you allow yourself to get lost in tiny alleys.  Kids there love playing soccer; Women are serious shoppers at a morning outdoor market; Businessmen patronize their favorite neighborhood cafe/bar that is the size of a living room.  In the backstreets, there's the smell of Mamma's pasta, hanging laundry, lonely fountains...  A gondolier singing 'O Sole Mio is out of earshot.  It's hard to describe the feeling when you get close and personal with a place like this.  It must be Venice magic.


Market Day, Venice, Italy III

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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It was a Great Show in Del Mar

 

  Gondolier, Venice VII

 

 

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came to visit my booth today at the Taste and Art Stroll in Del Mar.  Hope you all had a good time.  Much to our relief, the weather cooperated with the rain starting right after the event.  It was actually quite nice with the hazy sun and ocean breeze all day.  Like in any show, it is my greatest pleasure to meet people who share the same feelings toward art, and in my case, watercolor in particular.

A big thank-you to those of you who purchased my art today.  It meant a lot to me that you saw something special in the piece you chose.  To everyone I had a chance to chat with, thank you for stopping by.  I look forward to seeing you again when/if I return to Del Mar next year.  "Gondolier VII" in my Venice Collection was one of the paintings that found a new home today.

 

 

Gondolier, Venice VII

 

Media: original watercolor on paper

Image Size:

Purchase: Sold

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Poetry by Pablo Neruda


Procida I

 

Mario, a mail delivery man on a remote island in Italy meets a world-famous Chilean poet/politician in exile.  The poet introduces Mario to the world of poetry and teaches him what a metaphor is.  It changes the way Mario sees the world and his life, too.  I love the story in this Italian film "Il Postino"… and the scenery!  Some parts of the movie were filmed on the small island called Procida off the coast of Naples.  There you will find a much simpler life unlike the ultra-touristy, nearby Capri.  The poet was none other than Pablo Neruda whose powerful words have moved so many people in the world.  He showed me, too, what a pen can do when it’s connected to the writer’s soul, in his poems, like this one, "Poetry."  Thank you, Mr. Neruda, for your inspiration.

And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived / in search of me.  I don't know, I don't know where / it came from, from winter or a river. / I don't know how or when, / no they were not voices, they were not / words, nor silence, / but from a street I was summoned, / from the branches of night, / abruptly from the others, / among violent fires / or returning alone, / there I was without a face / and it touched me. / ... and I wrote the first faint line, / faint, without substance, pure / nonsense, / pure wisdom / of someone who knows nothing, / and suddenly I saw / the heavens / unfastened / and open, / ... I wheeled with the stars, / my heart broke loose on the wind.
(Pablo Neruda)

Visit my website to view other paintings in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

 

 

Procida, Italy I

 

Media: original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 9.5 x 7.5 inches

Purchase: Sold

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Amore


Amore

 

The setting of this painting is Alessandria in Northern Italy.  The perimeter of the huge town square is lined with magnificent buildings built in a style typical of the Piedmont region.

When I was there on one rainy afternoon, going-home traffic was coming in and out this square from all directions, and soon I found myself surrounded by cars.  Then I spotted a couple, sharing an umbrella, dodging cars with ease.  The rain was letting up and the sky glowed as the sun set.

This is one of those moments when you want to say, "That's amore."

Amore is in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

 

 

Amore

 

Media: original watercolor

Image Size: 14.25 x 21.5 inches

Purchase: Sold

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When in Rome

 

Roma, Italia I

 

 

When in Rome, I walk everywhere to soak up the Old World ambiance.  I marvel at colors and architectural designs of the buildings and have fun thinking how I can paint them.  I eat a sweet peach at the Campo dei Fiori outdoor market.  I let my imagination go back in time to live in the glorious ancient times.  I don’t mind getting up early to avoid a horrendously long line to enter the Vatican.  I climb to the top of the Spanish steps to see the sunset.  I don’t forget to stop for a gelato.  At the end of my stay, I have second thoughts about going to the horrendously crowded Trevi fountain but end up going there anyway to throw a coin because I want to return to the Eternal City.

Visit Roma, Napoli, Milano and many towns in between in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

 

 

Roma, Italia I

 

Media: original watercolor on paper

Image Size: 21.5 x 14.25 inches

Purchase: Sold

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My Favorite Subjects (2) - Cars & Scooters

 

Amalfi, Italy II

 

 

I just love painting cars and scooters.  To me, they are beautiful supporting actors in many of my street scene paintings such as this one, Amore.  When I walk or drive, I cannot help noticing a shiny roof of a car or a perfect streamlined body of a motorcycle.  Show me a silhouette of a car at sunset or a Vespa zipping by, and I almost immediately get the urge to paint the street where I see them.  I have never been a car aficionado or anything remotely close.  Growing up in Japan where you can go almost anywhere by public transportation, I didn’t even like cars and bikes.  The idea of painting or drawing them with passion never occurred to me.  Life is full of surprises.

Visit my website to see more paintings in my Italian Landscapes Collection.

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