Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Bounty of my Kitchen

Three Essentials, 2005, oil on canvas, 12 x 15 inches
Onions, potatoes and tomatoes are the main ingredients I keep at hand at all times. I'm able to cook different dishes with these as a base and without them I think I'd be lost. I have been painting onions and tomatoes for a while but the funny thing is that I've never painted a potato. I love potato to death, fried, in a soup or stew, boiled you name it I love it. So it was time to include this little delight in a painting.
This is one of my favorite paintings because not only I hold the subject matter very close to my heart but because it was a new direction in painting for me. This is the painting where I used Unbleached Titanium Pale in the background and ever since then I haven't stopped. I thought it was an amazing neutral and neutrals fascinate me. I have been trying to duplicate this background in other paintings but it's not working out the same. This is the mother of all my white ground paintings.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I have always been scared of painting portraits or the figure. Doing this kind of work requires so much understanding of the human anatomy and also a connection to the sitter. Good portraiture happens when the artist not only captures the likeness of the person being painted but they also capture their character. My first attempt at portrait painting was last year, and I was pleased with the outcome. I guess it was a case of beginners luck. Since then, I decided to start a bigger portrait, which at one point I thought it was finished but decided to re-work it since there was something unconvincing about it. Steve in Yellow is a project that is taking some time to complete, I'm close to being finished with it but I'm not rushing it. I want it to come out just right!

Steve, 2005, oil on canvas, 19 x 16 inches

Steve in Yellow (in progress), 2005-2006, oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

An Afternoon in Central Park

View of Central Park East from the Belvedere Castle

I kept my promise of visiting Central Park this summer. Yesterday I had planned to visit the Metropolitan Museum and sketch in the galleries. When I walked up the steps and to the main door a guard was telling people that the museum was closed for the day. I was very disappointed since I was ready to draw, and on top of that it was an uncomfortable walk there since the day was very humid. I didn't feel like going back home since I was uptown. I decided to take a stroll through central park instead. I'm very happy I did. It was the most relaxing day I've had since moving into the city. The vast amounts of grass and trees and birds was too much to handle. Central Park is very big, with little winding roads and paths that lead to different little areas, and at times one may feel lost it doesn't matter since it's such a great park.

The Belvedere Castle, a 19th century structure serves as the Henry Luce Nature Observatory.

A group of artists from one of the many art schools in the city paint in a little spot facing "The Lake"

One of the many horse carriages that run up and down through central park. Although very romantic I think I'll pass on this ride. It costs $40 for only twenty minutes!

Bethesda Fountain and Terrace.

Bethesda Fountain

I sat at the ledge of this fountain and drew for about an hour. I completed two little sketches of two of the little cherubs located at the center of the fountain. It was a great time drawing in the open air with the sound of the water running in the background. It was an ideal New York moment.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

At the Farmers Market

When I moved to New York about two years ago I was told by two of my patrons that I should go visit the Farmers Market in Union Square. They thought it would be a great idea since at that time I had just switched from abstraction to still lives. They told me about the amazing fruits and veggies I would find there, and to top it off they were fresh and cheap. I'm some what of a late bloomer, always doing things slow and keeping to myself. Sot it was not until about two weeks ago that I finally decided to go and see for myself what the whole deal was about.
An apple stand fulll in every inch of the tent!

The mushroom guy

I picked a perfect day for this adventure. During the week the temperature was very hot and humid, but on this Saturday the sun was out and a cool breeze swept throghout Union Square. The breeze kept me fresh as I walked around trying to capture the event with my camera. The Farmers Market is a long tradition in NYC. I'm not sure when, how or why it got started but every one knows about it. Farmers from the outskirts of the city come in three times a week to sell the fruit of their land. It was a very refreshing thing to see nature in the middle of the city. This market reminded me of the markets you dind in Peru. Unfortunately I was not prepared that day for purchasing, but I will be back very soon with money in hand to take some of this stuff home!

Greens and more greens!

I love scallions

What do we see? More greens!

Onions for days in this stand. I went nuts!

As always, tomatoes radiating.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Preview Party at the National Academy

On Thursday night I had the chance to attend a Preview Party at the National Academy School of Art in 5th Ave. & 89th St. Carol said that I should go, that it would be good for me to see what others are doing. Not knowing what to expect I attended hesitantly. What I found was a beautiful building from the golden age of old New York City. Inside, rooms were hung wall to wall with paintings and drawings. It was a hot crowded night, but every one was pleased to be there.
Sculpture by Eun Nye Yang

Pamela Fenwick, Carin, 2006, watercolor on paper

I walked through the first room, full of people trying to get a close look at the work on the walls. I passed through and saw a beautiful watercolor by Pamela Fenwick. I thought it was a great composition and the green she used made my jaw drop. This was a piece with simple strokes of color making up a complex image. Walking to the next room I was overtaken by a group of sculptures by Eun Nye Yang. This artist knew what she was doing. The pieces were all about the motion of the human figure. All of them were full of life and intensity. Even at standing poses the sculptures looked heroic. The sample above was the best of them all. This figure is dynamic.

Benat Iglesias Lopez, Self Portrait, 2006, oil on canvas

Finally I walked to the last room, the biggest one in the show. Paintings all over the place and although they were good nothing stuck out. Most of the work hanging looked like what I had seen at my school and in other art schools' catalogs. Looking at painting after painting I started to get impatient because nothing hit me over the head and made me say wow! That is until I was ready to leave and as I got close to the door I saw this large portrait by Benat Iglesias Lopez. At that point I wanted to drop on my knees and say "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!" The guy knows how to paint. This canvas was full of painterly awesomeness. Strokes going in every direction with interruptions of texture left by the brush. There were thick applications of paint in some areas, scratches, and in some others pure softness. I was amazed at this painting and at the talent of this artist. It turns out that I had seen two other pieces by him in the room and had loved them as well without knowing they were by the same hand. But it was his Self Portrait that took the prize that night!

Skyline of the West Side from Central Park Reservoir

It was time to go home shortly after, but not until I got a look at the reservoir in Central Park. I love this park, even though I don't spend much time in it. I have made a promise to myself that this summer I will try to get there as much as I can. It was not a bad start. The sun was coming down and the light reflecting on the water was out of a romantic movie. It was a great view. After walking some more I came across the Met. This is my favorite place in the whole world. At least for now since I haven't had the chance to visit the Louvre. I have been to the Met. so many times I'm quite familiar with which paintings hang in which room. What can I say, it's one amazing place full of the most breath taking art in the world. It was a hot humid night, but I didn't mind my little stroll on 5th Ave that night. I got to see the Met. in its evening glory!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art at 82nd St. and 5th Ave.

Site seeing wasn't over yet. Right before getting into the 6 subway station this gorgeous church greeted me and bid me good night!

Church at Lexington Ave. and 76 St.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Painting Process 7

Up until this point work on this painting was going on the right direction. I started to loosen up and try to be more painterly, something that at times is hard for me but at the same time very exiting. I added two garlic cloves to the composition because the bottom left area was empty. Too much dead space there. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep the garlic as it is or change it some more, maybe play around with different positions.
This is the last image I took of the painting before it got to it's scary point. I decided to listen to a friend. She said that I should put some bright color in the background and make it more contemporary. I decided to do a greenish color but it ended up being a loud, supper scary turquoise. I tried toning it down but it still looks horrible. Thanks Carol! One of the many learning experiences of painting. I'm hopping to finish this soon because it is driving me nut not being able to just get it right. We'll see what happens next!

Monday, June 19, 2006

My Life In Red

Tomato, 2006, oil on canvas mounted on panel, 10 x 8 inches
The color red became my favorite years ago when I was a teenager. In 1998 The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut put up one of the best shows in that museum's history. Caravaggio and His Italian Followers was a hit, and I was there to see the wonders of his canvases. I fell in love with the way he used bright reds and deep darks, colors I adopted in my early stages of painting. Throughout the years red has played an important part in my work, especially in my abstract work. It was no wonder that when I saw this tomato in my refrigerator I had to just paint it and to try to bring to the painting the brightness and richness of the tomato's color. It has been a struggle trying to get it right, used two kinds of Cadmium Red, Indian Red, and Genuine Vermilion, among other colors. I think I'm done now, I'm happy with it...I don't think I can make it any brighter!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Latest Addition to the "Onion" Series

Onion III, 2006, oil on canvas, 7 x 6 inches
I decided to take a break from the Red Cabbage painting in the painting Process postings. What can I say, I fell in love with this little onion and I had to paint it as soon as possible. I came across this yellow onion in my kitchen one night when I was getting ready to cook. I picked it up and immediately saved it from getting sliced and cooked by rushing it to my painting area. I left it there for a couple of days and then work began. I'm very happy with this piece because the process was effortless. I sat down to paint it and after three sittings I was done. This is also the first time I've used a black ground in years. The ground looks black but it's not. It's a mixture of Raw Umber and Courbet Green, an awesome dark green by Williamsburg Oils.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Painting Process 6

Have been working on the Cabbage painting for the past week and some small changes are happening. The ground color changed from light green to off white. I have been using unbleached Titanium Pale by Williamsburg Oil Paint a lot since last year in many of my paintings. I used it once and fell in love with it. It gives me that contemporary look I'm looking to bring into traditional still life painting. The use of this color happened coincidentally as I started to discover Vermeer. I saw Girl with a Pearl Earring and it was the begging of my admiration of his work. What I love about Vermeer is that he included the white walls of his studio in most of his work. A great choice for depicting glowing light. I'm trying to bring this glow into my work. So far it hasn't worked as I want because I'm not glazing with an important color I should be. Indian Yellow is the transparent color Vermeer would use on his paintings, and this color did the trick of glowing light. For some reason I don't like to glaze. It makes me feel uncomfortable, that's why Indian Yellow hasn't appeared much in my work. I think I'm going to try it on this painting and see how it goes.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Painting Process 5

First layer of paint

Second layer of paint

Painting has begun and from here on the whole process becomes some what scary for me. So far I've manage to do about two layers of paint and I know there's about ten more to come. For some reason I tend to do layer upon layer upon layer on the background until I get what I want. Some times I'm not sure what I want reason why I go through so many different background colors. What I've learned is that the background is what makes or breaks the painting. Too many people leave this until the end and apply some random color not realizing the importance of what they're doing. My teacher, Stephen Brown didn't even like the term "background" because it sounded like a minor part of a painting. He liked to refer to it as the ground color.
At this point of the painting everything becomes messy and uncertain. But clarity will come sooner or later. I'll post more if the mood of the painting changes. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Painting Process 4

Here's when the fun begins. Once I've decided what image I will be painting I start to get ready for it by covering the surface of the canvas with a light coat of Burnt Sienna. The canvas above has a coat of Red Ochre, a new color I bought not so long ago. This is to warm me up before painting and to get the canvas dirty right away. I hate painting on a pristine canvas because it makes me become tight and precious about what I'm painting. I also use this coat of color as part of the under painting. It was common practice for artists to paint on colored primed canvas during the 16th and 17th centuries. Peter Paul Rubes and Anthony Van Dyck used to prime their canvas with an earth tone and then with a grey mixture. The Spanish painters, like Diego Velazquez and Goya used to use Red Ochre. Many times the ground color, as it is called, was left alone in areas of the painting to form part of the color scheme of the work.
An under painting is usually a rough to well finished sketch of what the final product might be. Some painters work with glazing and an under painting is a good structure to glaze over. Glazing is the application of transparent layers of color which will build up the painting and make it more luminous. The reason why paintings done in glazes are more luminous is because light travels through all the layers of paint and bounces back out illuminating each layer.
I don't glaze. My method of painting is more direct at times. The reason why I use the under painting is to get me familiar with what I'm painting, it lets me know if the composition will work in the space I've chosen.