Sunday, September 23, 2007

Wouldn't it be Loverly?

Alex and I watched My Fair Lady the other day. I've had a few lines and tunes - like the one above and this blog update's title - stuck in my head ever since.

I've been trying to stick to a regiment of getting outside at least once a week to paint. Yesterday's session with a friend was cancelled due to rain.... though I know for a fact that he's hardcore enough to have gone out and paint anyway. This morning seemed to threaten the same weather conditions, so I stuck to pen and sketchbook to avoid any mishaps.... I need to invest in a painting umbrella set-up. Luckily, overcast was as bad as it ever got, and Alex and I enjoyed a fine day in the City. She had brunch with a couple teacher friends, and I wandered Hayes Valley with a cup of my favorite coffee for breakfast.... which I followed up with another cup at Momi Toby's, and have been suffering a headache caused by caffeine dehydration ever since.

Octavia and Page St.

Rose St. off of Octavia.


The marshlands landscape from the Dillon Beach update will be hanging up at the Studio Gallery in SF for a few weeks. There's a reception for their People, Places, and Things show this coming Saturday. As usual, I'll be there around 5:30 and stick around for a couple hours.

I've yet to be in a show with a whole lot of my work hanging up, but for those interested in critical mass, I'm about to begin a production line of 6" x 6" canvases for the annual Tiny show at the Studio. I'm hoping to have about ten pieces available. Now wouldn't it be loverly?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Toshio's Two-Step

My brother-in-law introduced Alex and me to one of San Francisco's best kept secrets a couple months ago: Toshio Hirano. Last night was the second time I got to see Toshio perform at the Amnesia Lounge in the Mission District.

I want to describe him as a small Japanese man that tells great stories with a heavy accent as he introduces each song, which happens to mostly be covers of bluegrass and honky tonk tunes by old greats such as Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. But I think a better way to describe Toshio would be to say he's a well of happiness. Looking around the lounge when he plays, all you see are smiling faces, city hipsters two-steppin', dreadlocked dregs locked arm in arm going round in circles. You feel your own self returning to innocence, even if many of the tunes are based on classic country themes - heartache, lonesome prairies, your first drink after a hard day, and one horse towns. It'd sound like I was plugging the guy to sell more CD's for him, that is, if he had a CD for sale. He says if he manages to get one more person to go out and buy Jimmie Rodgers record, then he's happy.

Click here for Toshio's site. There's also a link on his front page to a great write-up by SF Gate from last year. And of course, you should really listen to his rendition of Peach Picking Time in Georgia, linked underneath his picture.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dillon Beach

I was complaining about the heat in the last update, and how it's made getting outside to paint landscapes a little bit unbearable. My lucked changed when Alex and I were treated to a weekend getaway at a beach house up the coast in one of my favorite painting locations, Dillon Beach. The area in general usually promises overcast skies and fog - just the kind of moodiness I enjoy painting! Early morning Saturday did not disappoint, and after about half an hour of scouting, I found my spot.

Shoreline Marshlands 11" x 14" Oil on Canvas.

The rest of the weekend was spent, for the most part, in complete relaxation - something else Alex and I both really needed. My brother David and his girlfriend drove up and joined us later on, where we all enjoyed good food, lazying around, conversation, and soaking in the scenery.

Here are some photos from the weekend. More to follow if I can get a copy of Dave's.
Dillon Beach

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ceramic Owl Family

I've had a pretty bad itch to go outside and paint some landscapes lately, but the weather has been way too hot. Still, I wanted a break from illustration work and to do something in oils. I then realized that I've been neglecting one aspect of art nearly my entire artistic lifespan: Still lifes. Problem for me is that while there are many benefits in studying from them, they can be very boring to look at. I wasn't interested in a standard composition either, so I went with an arrangement that resembled a family of owls.

Now I know the basic premise of a still life is to study it from, well, life, but in this case the arrangement was photographed in Peratellada, Spain. They were sitting in a shop window display. I could have bought them to bring home and paint, but it was the siesta hour so the shop was closed.

I found a canvas I primed a while back with gesso and sand for texture. Here, I've initially laid down a flat wash of transparent oxide red mixed with flake white. In the past, I let the tone dry, but here I've gone straight into the composition, blocking in loose shapes using transparent oxide red mixed with ultramarine.

I'm always hesitant to start in with color, especially if the tone drawing underneath is pretty well rendered. So I try to avoid getting precious or committing to any hard edges in the beginning. I also try to limit my palette so that things don't become a mess. Here, I'm just introducing some warm grays on the crests of the birds, and some local color for each piece.

By now, I've established most of the loose forms, plane changes, and edges. I can't ignore color much longer. So first, in order to better interpret any reflected lighting on the ceramic owls, as well as to establish temperature relationships (cool versus warm colors), I quickly lay down the color of the base they're resting on with a palette knife. This is sometimes the funnest part, where I get to loosen up a bit... so I'm glad that in this case that there's a large open area for me to go nuts.

I've rendered most of the colors, brought out some highlights, and refined hard and soft edges. This is the last stage before having to call it a night. It's close to finished after three or four hours, but I need to pick Alex up from an evening class, treat myself to a cheeseburger (it's been a week for comfort food), and go to bed so I can return to the painting with a fresh pair of eyes in the morning.

Ceramic Owl Family, oil on canvas 16" x 20".
All that was really left was some tightening up on details such as the beaks, eyes, and highlights, some color corrections especially in one of the cast shadows, and the background. Oh, I'm sure there's plenty of other things to work on, but I feel at this point, I've succeeded in creating the mood and image I wanted, while managing to avoid overworking the painting (a rare victory). Here are some detail shots:

Unfortunately, none of these photos do the colors any justice. That's the sad thing with oils; they're extremely difficult to reproduce. Once the painting is dry, I'll scan it in and see if it's any better.

I'm off to wash brushes and heat up some ramen (definitely not a comfort food item).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Comfort Food

Nothing too special today. Just a quick sketch before and after a late brunch at the Homemade Cafe a few blocks from home.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Alex and I celebrated our "Paper Anniversary" over the holiday weekend. We were somehow able to squeeze a little of everything we enjoy doing together in three days: sleeping in, watching a comedy (Superbad), 'rocking' a couple sessions of climbing at the gym, and 'kicking off' Saturday evening from our traditional cheap seats on the Hill where we lost our voices to the Cal Bears beating Tennessee 45-31 (we were even on national TV but I can't find a clip!).

We trekked into the City on Sunday to play tourist, enjoying [what was supposed to be] a light lunch in the Haight, napping in Golden Gate Park, tossing the frisbee everywhere but to the other person, and generally behaving like childen.

By no fault of my own, Alex was marooned for hours but managed to hitch a ride to terra firma on this sea turtle. Thanks for saving our anniversary Mr. Turtle.

Hanging ten on a monster wave.

After a small break at Cafe Soleil near where Alex used to live, we hiked up Van Ness to the House of Prime Rib for a hearty dinner of chef's salad.... yeah right, of course we had prime rib!

It's strange to think that a whole year has gone by already, but thinking back on all the things we've been able to do in just that time, it's amazing to realize it's only been that long. So here's to many more years of adventuring together, and all the while remaining young at heart.