Friday, February 17, 2017

Self-portrait

 
Self-portrait, 9 x 12

Painting a self-portrait is always an anxiety-laden process for me. I don't know whether to make myself prettier or uglier, since capturing an exact likeness is elusive. Out of the desire to paint from life, this is the model who's always available. I worked on keeping the edges soft.

It's hard to photograph this painting because of the glare. I feel the colors are cooler and richer in the actual painting. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Fishing boats

 
Fishing boats, 16 x 20. 

Done from a photo I took on my recent trip to China. My sister took us to a small fishing village called Nan'ao in southern Guangdong province, and we had the best seafood there, as fresh as you can get. Hope I can go back there. 

Sometimes a painting just paints itself, and this one did. I was done in less than two hours. I think I'm getting more confident about leaving things out and not getting too hung up on details--spelling everything out for the audience. Case in point: those boats in the distance. I don't need to paint everything to death so people know those are boats. I only need to suggest there are boats and other things in the distance. It's actually more fun to paint this way and the painting comes out looking fresher and better.

Another thing is this painting is actually painted over a not-so-successful portrait sketch. I start to like painting over old pictures. I just turn the old painting upside down and start painting over it. The chaotic background provides a nice counterpoint and creates some excitement for the new painting. My paintings are done faster and almost come out better because of the layer of paint that's already on the canvas. And I like to paint landscape over portrait and vice versa because the warm tones of a portrait make a nice background for a landscape, and the cool tones of a landscape (blues and greens) work very well as an undertone for a portrait. So maybe it is like this--that no effort is ever wasted. But I do have plenty of old paintings that cannot be salvaged. They need to go in the trash.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Portrait sketch

 
Jen, 12 x 16. Just a quick portrait sketch, painted from life.