Friday, 30 October 2015

Spring in the Yard, a Tribute to Van Gogh in Watercolour

I kept this post in a draft form because it is special to me.   But after reading a post on LI that it is 125 years since the death of Van Gogh.  I decided to post mine to share.
It was a rare opportunity to visit a home garden in spring. For a composition, I looked down from a deck into a garden corner and decided that she's mine. It looks ambitious. It looks overloaded. I knew with the sweeping wash and mute colour movement at the moment in watercolour art scene, I think this is the one that would be avoided by many watercolour painters at all cost. "What are you going to do?" asked one of my friends. "Paint it, I am going to paint it" I replied.  I know people might think I was out of my mind.  At the same time I was not so sure.  Facing the challenge of  nature with its intensity and complexity is not easy.  I might fail but that was the point.  If I did not seize the opportunity to stretch my boundary now, I would never do it.  Looking at all dazzling colours in front of me, I thought about one of my heroes, Vincent Van Gogh.
I thought about Van Gogh because he came from the land of flowers. He was fearless in his approach to painting direct and was brilliant in portraying the essence of nature with its complexity. With that thought, I did not have much to lose but a lot to gain. I jumped straight in capturing the flowering honey suckle wall, the garden furniture set, the pots full of bulb flowers, a small blossom tree and finally few black birds! I though about the tulip fields of Netherlands as I added the red tulips to the pot on the table.  I thought about the blue iris field he painted as I added blues irises to the pots around the table. I tried to keep to colours pure, intense and raw with descriptive strokes capturing features of elements (the technique I saw in his paintings) in the same time I tries to retain the glittering effect of sun light.
This is, if I may, a tribute to Van Gogh, a master who showed me the joy and excitement in nature with his brilliant and "could not be more direct" technique! It took courage to capture the "Wow" factor in nature the way he did.  "That courage and soul have become Van Gogh legacy! " was my thought.
When I look at my " Spring in the Yard", I feel dazzled and happy.  I think I have captured the effect of spring in this garden corner. I realised the biggest benefit of living with art is an opportunity to live with a soul! I feel humble.
It was a rare opportunity to visit a home garden in spring.  For a composition, I looked down from a deck into a garden corner and decided that she's mine.  It looks ambitious.  It looks overloaded.  I knew with the sweeping wash and mute colour movement at the moment in watercolour art scene, I think this is the one that would be avoided by many watercolour painters at all cost.  "What are you going to do?" asked one of my friends.  "Paint it, I am going to paint it" I replied.  At the same time I was not so sure.  This was my first time.  I might fail but that was the point to seize the opportunity to stretch my boundary.  Looking at all dazzling colours in front of me, I thought about one of my heroes, Vincent Van Gogh.   I thought about Van Gogh because he came from the land of flowers.  He was fearless in his approach to painting direct and was brilliant in portraying the essence of nature with its complexity. With that thought, I did not have much to lose but a lot to gain.  I jumped straight in capturing the flowering honey suckle wall, the garden furniture set, the pots full of bulb flowers, a small blossom tree and finally few black birds!  I though about the tulip fields of Netherland as I added the red tulips to the pot on the table.  I thought about the blue iris field he painted as I added blues irises to the pots around the table.  I tried to keep to colours pure, intense and raw with descriptive strokes capturing features of elements (the technique I saw in his paintings) in the same time I tries to retain the glittering effect of sun light.  This is, if I may say, a tribute to Van Gogh, a master who showed me the joy and excitement in nature with his brilliant and "could not be more direct" technique!  It took courage to capture the "Wow" factor in nature the way he did.  That courage and soul have become Van Gogh legacy!  When I look at my " Spring in the Yard", I feel dazzled and happy.  I think I have captured the effect of spring in this garden corner.  I realised the biggest benefit of living with art is an opportunity to live with a soul!  I feel humble.
Wonderful Exciting Spring Garden

A Summer with You, Watercolour Thumbnail Sketch Seascape

One useful and wonderful exercise in watercolour art is doing five minute thumbnail sketch with one brush and maybe three colours and a small piece of paper .  In this exercise, I think I might have been cheating a bit.  I did not count the colours but picking them straight from my palette at the time.  I think it took a minute to think, a minute to draw ( I skipped this) and three minutes to paint.

The scale of this thumbnail sketch is 16cm x 11.5cm ( or roughly 6" x 4").  In this quick sketch I managed to capture atmospheric of a sunny day, glittering light on water, wet sand, wonderful sky with wind and clouds, Rangitoto islands, its reflection and a happy couple!  I think it does not matter how many paintings I have done.  An experience like this always brings a smile to my face.  A fleeting moment, moving sky, dashing light and the joy of wet feet... is captured effortless.  I can't explain.  I can't analyse.  It just happened. It is really a five minutes of magic! 

One useful and wonderful exercise in watercolour art is doing five minute thumbnail sketch with one brush and maybe three colours and a small piece of paper .  In this exercise, I think I might have been cheating a bit.  I did not count the colours but picking them straight from my palette at the time.  I think it took a minute to think, a minute to draw ( I skipped this) and three minutes to paint. The scale of this thumbnail sketch is 16cm x 11.5cm ( or roughly 6" x 4").  In this quick sketch I managed to capture atmospheric of a sunny day, glittering light on water, wet sand, wonderful sky with wind and clouds, Rangitoto islands, its reflection and a happy couple!  I think it does not matter how many paintings I have done.  An experience like this always brings a smile to my face.  A fleeting moment, moving sky, dashing light and the joy of wet feet... is captured effortless.  I can't explain.  I can't analyse.  It just happened. It is really a five minutes of magic!
Wonderful Summer Day, Mission Bay, Auckland, NZ

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Late Winter by the Moor, Watercolour Painting Landscape

I had an idea to explore this scene for a long time.  The day came and we set out to paint it.  I like the tranquility and quietness of the moment in between winter and spring.  It is natural and peaceful.  I used strong colours to capture the contrast and stark feeling of seasons reflecting in foliage of the place and the clear fresh air and sky above with its reflection in water... best still there was still time for a warm cup of tea! :-)  I came home with a painting and its fresh air in my lungs.  I was more than happy! :-)
I had an idea to explore this scene for a long time.  The day came and we set out to paint it.  I like the tranquility and quietness of the moment in between winter and spring.  It is natural and peaceful.  I used strong colours to capture the contrast and stark feeling of seasons reflecting in foliage of the place and the clear fresh air and sky above with its reflection in water... best still there was still time for a warm cup of tea! :-)  I came home with a painting and its fresh air in my lungs.  I was more than happy! :-)
Quiet and peaceful day in the moor

Door to the Sea, Watercolour Painting Seascape


An outdoor painting at Okahu bay, Auckland.  Along NZ shore are those magnificent local trees.  They have the ability to flourish in incredible tough condition near the shore with strong wind and poor soil.  Because of their strength, they are planted to protect the shore from corrosion.  I use strong greens and dark colours umber, sepia, blues (pthalo and ultramarine) for the tree trunks to note the features of these special trees.  Coming in with  is lapping water to wet my feet and the breeze to play with my hair.  I work hard with the brush to capture movement and vibration of the scene in the same time I would love just to be there all day.. dreaming! :-)
Together these elements gave me a strong vibrant refreshing blue green theme which I am going to include it into my favourite colour palettes.  It was beautiful day with wonderful result!
An outdoor painting at Okahu bay, Auckland.  Along NZ shore are those magnificent local trees.  They have the ability to flourish in incredible tough condition near the shore with strong wind and poor soil.  Because of their strength, they are planted to protect the shore from corrosion.  I use strong greens and dark colours umber, sepia, blues (pthalo and ultramarine) for the tree trunks to note the features of these special trees.  Coming in with  is lapping water to wet my feet and the breeze to play with my hair.  I work hard with the brush to capture movement and vibration of the scene in the same time I would love just to be there all day.. dreaming! :-) Together these elements gave me a strong vibrant refreshing blue green theme which I am going to include it into my favourite colour palettes.  It was beautiful day with wonderful result!
Beautiful, stunning day at the bay




Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Nouvelle Cal├ędonie, Gouache Painting

Thinking of holidays by the sea is my kind of off-beat relaxation.  With a piece of paper and a box of gouache colours, I decided to have fun.  Nouvelle Caledonie is a French colony in the Pacific.  I get used to watercolour with its relax and free flow ability and did not realise extra work is required with gouache.  If you like to try, use the brushes that are not intended for watercolours.  Else you might ruin the delicate quality of watercolour brushes especially those that you can not have replacement! I have collected many watercolour brushes during many years and have noticed they have disappeared because people do not make them anymore.

Thinking of holidays by the sea is my kind of off-beat relaxation.  With a piece of paper and a box of gouache colours, I decided to have fun.  Nouvelle Caledonie is a French colony in the Pacific.  I get used to watercolour with its relax and free flow ability and did not realise extra work is required with gouache.  If you like to try, use the brushes that are not intended for watercolours.  Else you might ruin the delicate quality of watercolour brushes especially those that you can not have replacement! I have collected many watercolour brushes during many years and have noticed they have disappeared because people do not make them anymore.
Nouvelle Caledonie, Gouache Painting on paper