Monday, August 27, 2007

What a Mess!

It used to be a tidy, clean watercolor box, but not after my lesson on how to work with puddles. Apparently my watercolor box is too new, therefore mixing colors was a pain, water would bead up not allowing me to see the actual colors I was mixing.
"You have to season the box" miss Carol said. Lesson number two was how to make an enamel surface workable with water. By applying thick layers of watercolor and letting them dry slowly the glossy surface of the white enamel wears out to the point were pools of water don't separate. Of course nothing is as easy as 1 2 3.

I'm going to have to keep applying more layers of color, let them dry, wash them off, and repeat the process until water no longer beads up. I don't know how many more times I will be doing this, if at all, but at least the first layer is done and over with.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Watercolor 101

Behold the Kremer Pigments watercolor box set! With these fourteen colors I have been trying to get a better handle of the medium. Heavily pigmented pans of color make it easy for an oil painter like me to work with them due to their opaque thick quality. But watercolor is not meant to be opaque. It's beauty is in its transparency and ability to run all over the paper.

As a beginner in the medium I needed all the help I could get. After showing my first paintings to Carol (Paris Breakfasts) she agreed to teach me a few tricks on the trade. Watercolor 101 began on Friday afternoon.

The whole idea about this lesson was on how to lay down color on pools of water. Dropping the brush loaded with some color and allowing it to do its own thing. For a person like me who likes control this was a bit difficult, but I think I got the handle of it. I think I did. I guess she would have to be the judge of that.
The main thing I learned is that paper does make a big difference. I was working with the Moleskine watercolor book, which is nice but for some reason it did not allow the water and colors to run. Instead the colors just sat there and I would have to push them around. This I noticed after I worked with some of Carol's watercolor paper she buys from New York Central.
I was left on my own for a little while to practice. The end results are these puddles of color. Wonder what she'll try to teach me next.

Keep Those Lemons Coming!

Lemon on the Left, 2007, watercolor on paper, 5 x 8 inches
While staying at my friend's Manhattan apartment this week I developed an obsession with lemons. Well to be honest, just his three lemons I found in his refrigerator. They are the most beautiful trio of lemons I've see. Let me tell you it's no joke that Manhattan markets get some of the most beautiful produce, try finding this stuff in Queens!
Lonely Lemon, 2007, watercolor on paper, 5 x 8 inches
It has been a fun few nights painting lemons. It's also a learning experience working with mostly yellow. How can you make tonal variations with yellow? To top that, how can you make tonal variations with yellow watercolor? It's been a challenge but an enjoyable one none the less.
Two Lemons, 2007, watercolor on paper, 5 x 8 inches
At this point of the night I was feeling a little more confident about laying down pools of color and creating different temperatures of yellow. Now that I have a better handle of the medium I think I will keep working with it from time to time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Night of Watercolor

Three Lemons, 2007, watercolor on paper, 7 x 9 inches
What to do when you're away from your studio and your paint box is somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Queens and you're in Manhattan for a week? You have to make the best of it with what you got. And what I got is a watercolor box that I haven't used in a while. Seems like it's been almost a year since I've done anything with it. But the change is refreshing. Trying to control color and small puddles of loose water was a scary thing but in the end all I wanted was to have fun.
Yellow Onion, 2007, watercolor on paper, 8 x 7 inches
After the fun was over, I had to up my game and try a more serious approach. Watercolor is a completely different ball game for an oil painter like myself. I was not feeling too optimistic when I started the second piece. I knew for sure that my desire to make a good painting would mess things up for me. But I don't give up once I start working. I have to make it go my way and after layering so many puddles of color I got to where I wanted. This was a fun experience, one that I will try to keep doing more often, but I will never give up my oil paints!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Three Peaches

Three Peaches, 2007, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Halved Tomato III

Halved Tomato III, 2007, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sliced Lemon

Sliced Lemon, 2007, oil on canvas panel, 6 x 8 inches

Monday, August 13, 2007

Elizabeth Murray

I was just informed that abstract painter Elizabeth Murray passed away. I have never met her or, to be honest, been a follower of her work, but it does sadden me to find out about her death. These kinds of news always make you think about your own mortality. As a young artist in New York it is quite normal to sometimes run into big name artists who, at very young ages, made it to the pages of many art history books. While working at the pigment store I have come to meet Brice Marden, Kiki Smith, Ross Bleckner, and Joel Shapiro, all contemporaries of Elizabeth Murray. When you meet these people, no matter how bratty or crazy they might be, you never think about them passing anytime soon. It makes you realize that you never know when your time might be up. So with this in mind, I think I have to make the most of my life and continue painting.
Here's the link to the New York Times story.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Roasted Peppers

Roasted Peppers, 2007, oil on canvas panel, 8 x 6 inches
Part of the reason why I paint onions is because of the way they take in and bounce light. Due to their many transparent layers light is able to go through and make it glow. But you can only paint them so much before you start to ask yourself what else is there that will display light at its best? The answer was in Mikey's fridge as I looked for subject matter. I picked up this jar of roasted peppers and saw the beautiful orange inside, and the way light made some areas bright and some grey. I had to paint it. Perhaps one of the most challenging things to paint is anything that is see through. Colors need to be crisp for the illusion of glass with reflected light to work. Glass is one of the areas I haven't dealt with much, making this study important to my observation abilities.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Mika "Love Today"

I'm not much of a music critic, but I do know what I like and don't. Just like art, I tend to look for substance in music. Pussy Cat Dolls, Britney Spears and any other fabricated impersonal music awakes a fit of rage in me. I'm always looking for good music, the kind that will not sound dated in a few years. Something that my grandkids will hear and say damn that's good music, just like the sounds of Motown, Beach Boys, Cat Stevens and other great acts.
In this search for good music I came across Mika, a young Lebanese London based singer with a cool upbeat sound. I saw one of his music videos on TV a few months ago and thought "that's really good," and moved on. But last week as I was listening to french radio "Love Me" came on and I fell in love. I bought the album and it did not disappoint. His sound is a mix of Silvester meets Prince meets Queen meets The Darkness. Whatever his sound maybe be, it's good none the less. Hope you enjoy this guy as much as I do.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Abstract Studies

Abstract Study No.1, 2007, pen, pencil, and watercolor on paper, 7 1/4 x 9 inches
For some time I have been thinking allot about abstract compositions. It seems like I miss a whole lot being able to spread paint across a large canvas, and search for forms and colors that await their release. But painting large abstractions at this moment doesn't seem like it might work, since I'm not ready for that yet. There's something holding me back, but that's alright, since on the day that I do decide to start again, all ideas and feelings will flow out of me and make the process more enjoyable.
Abstract Study No.2, 2007, pen and watercolor on paper, 7 1/4 x 9 inches
Last night, a very hot heavy humid summer night, I did not have the energy to paint. The heat made me think that I would feel even more hot and uncomfortable if I started working with oils. My skin felt oily enough! I needed something refreshing for such a night. In the quite confines of my bedroom, sitting on my desk, I brought out pieces of heavy paper I cut and saved four years ago and started working on them.
Abstract Study No.3, 2007, pen and watercolor on paper, 7 1/4 x 9 inches
These studies are a sort of warm ups before starting to do anything serious. I'm trying to get comfortable again with compositional divisions and the use of color. These studies are also a way of practicing loose paint applications, since painting still lifes have caused my hand to tighten up. Not sure what I'm looking for as of yet, but as I keep working with these studies things may become more clear.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sliced Onion No.2

Sliced Onion No.2, 2007, oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches