Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Not the most elaborate costume out there, but she does feel pretty cute and that's all that matters, wouldn't you agree? Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Grizzly Peak Sessions

The Early Bird crew spent a morning this week up on Grizzly Peak, a ridge line above Berkeley that overlooks the San Francisco Bay, and a good chunk of the East Bay area. I wasn't able to join them that morning, though I was up there briefly to scout the area for another time. It was a shame though, because there were some really heavy hitters up there that morning, like Bill Cone, Ernesto Nemesio, Paul Kratter, and a few others, and it would've been great to watch them in action. I managed to paint the following day instead... not quite able to capture any sweeping bay views thanks to the rolling fog, but still enjoying the scenery.

"Two Trees and Path" 5x7 inches, Gouache and Watercolor on Clayboard

Jimmy G., a good friend of mine from the climbing gym, has been diligently painting bay area locations over the years, and Grizzly Peak is kind of like his backyard painting spot. He joined the gang the morning I wasn't able to make it, and was inspired to get an early start this weekend. So we were there today by 7 am, hiked to the top and got started.

We were both amazed by the sunrise and how the dark blue-gray clouds hanging over Mt. Diablo were suddenly smeared with bright lavenders and oranges. It was actually incredibly frustrating despite its beauty, because the entire color scheme and mood would change in the seconds you were looking at your palette to mix a color that was no longer there. I definitely need to work on better memorization.

I had every intention of saving my disastrous results, but we moved downhill a bit to start a second painting, and I needed a board to paint on, so I wiped out my sunrise and painted this one over it.

"Trail Through Cypresses" 10x8 inches, Gouache and Watercolor on Clayboard

I need to go in and tweak a few things, though I already made a few adjustments back in the studio. It's only an 8 x 10, but after painting 5 x 7's for a while, it was a challenge to cover something that felt a lot larger. I'm thinking I'll stick to the smaller sizes for a while, or try 6 x 8's. I'll also be sure to carry more boards from now on...

Still, I have no complaints. You can't beat painting outside! Even when you're sitting on a pile of chipped eucalyptus that's beginning to ferment, attracting hordes of gnats and mosquitoes toward you and your painting, when you could be painting in the breezier, bug-free spot on solid ground like the smarter guy over there is.... well even then, you just can't beat painting outside!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

West Berkeley - Sand Tower

I met up with the Early Bird crew this morning for a quick painting session. Though the meeting spot wasn't exactly pinpointed, it wasn't hard to find the others, as this particular block in West Berkeley's industrial district seemed to demand that it be painted!

"Sand Tower" 5"x7" Gouache/Watercolor on Clayboard

I didn't quite get the angular structure of the wooden slide coming out of the building (among other issues), but it was still an enjoyable subject to paint overall.

As a technical aside, I've been having a great time with these new clayboards. Gouache is tricky on gessoed surfaces, but these boards are formulated to accept watercolor so I'm able to build up multiple layers as well as lift off paint wherever I need to. They're not to be confused with watercolor canvas (stretched or paneled), which I've tried in the past and did not care for. I'd love to see other people give the clayboard a shot and tell me how they like'm.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Castro Ranch Rd.

Grazing Fields off Castro Ranch Rd. - 5"x7" Gouache/Watercolor on Clayboard

I used to live in El Sobrante, very close to this view that I must have driven past hundreds of times. I've always wanted to paint this location, but have never had my paints or even a camera with me anytime I was passing through. I was in the area yesterday to meet with my dad before cutting through the backroads where this view is to meet with Alex for lunch. I found myself with an hour to kill and my paintbox in the passenger seat, so I pulled over to paint. I was unprepared as usual, having very little water in the bottle. So I had to make do with dirty brushes and selective washes. The irony of it all is that it started raining as soon as I was done.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pt. Molate Ghost Town

I've been striking out on a huge percentage of my outdoor sessions. One day I'll gather the courage to show them publicly.... of course, even some of the work I'm pleased enough to show are strikeouts in their own right!

Well, I had a particularly hard time yesterday at the Emeryville marina, so I decided to go out again this morning. This time, I went on a recon mission of sorts when I accidently missed the freeway exit to Pt. Richmond and ended up in Pt. Molate, just shy of crossing a toll bridge. After a few minutes of winding roads, I found a shut down naval station, complete with old barracks, even a fort where cannons must've once lined up in ranks. I focused on the government housing.

"Naval Ghost Town" 5" x 7" Watercolor and Gouache on Clayboard

Where curtains once hung in ruffles, there was now corrugated metal and plywood panels. It was strange because I grew up as a military brat on various army bases. So although these buildings looked very institutional, it still felt a bit like home.

Early Bird Painters

Speaking of outdoor sessions, remember me mentioning the possibility of a collaborative blog? Well, it's up, and there's already some great artwork on it. It's definitely worth visiting and visiting often:

EarlyBirdPainters - Blog

Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Laundry Daze

Here's my latest illustration. I'm trying to round out my children's book portfolio, and have had this image floating around in my head for roughly eight months. The idea here is to have a double page spread, with would-be text fitting in the sky. The trip to Europe earlier this spring provided some excellent cityscape reference to make the image possible. Namely, Rome for its textures, and Barcelona for the rooftops. Hanging laundry, however, seemed to follow us all over the continent.

"Laundry Daze" 10" x 20" Gouache on Watercolor Paper

The shutters I shot in Rome were falling apart, lending itself nicely to the mood of the girl. At the same time, I don't quite know what kind of statement I'm making with the plant next to her.

A close up on the drybrush buildup when using gouache opaquely.

Some scraping with a woodblock cutting tool on the building wall. Light wash on the fabrics, with a little colored pencil to soften the shadows.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Early Bird Session

It's nothing really to write home about, but here's a quick negative space study from this morning. I've been going out once or twice a week during the weekdays to sketch with a few Pixar folks. Some of them are there at about 6:45 in the morning to get in a painting before starting their work day. Now that's dedication! I showed up today, greeted by a bitingly cold and windy Emeryville pier.... and promptly decided to paint from the comfort of the passenger seat of my car. And as much as I love boats, I've really been into trees lately. So this cypress isn't exactly a pier scene, though it sits right along the water, with the entire San Francisco skyline behind it.

Dice mentioned a great idea of possibly starting a collaborative blog based on what everyone feels like showing from our sessions, in which case you'll definitely be seeing some very enjoyable work by some insanely talented artists.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mini Gallery Crawl and Cinema Paradiso

As I mentioned in a previous update, I was part of a group show at the Studio Gallery which had its reception on Saturday. Well, I got a call from the gallery owner the day before the reception to let me know the painting was already the first one to sell! I've managed to sell a few prints in the past, but this was my first major sale of a painting in a gallery.... so what better way to celebrate than by buying more artwork? After hanging out for the reception a while, Alex and I were off to another show at this address:

If you're in "the know", you call it 17-cubed.

My friend Dice mentioned a benefit auction put on by Maverix Studios to help Alzheimer's research. I was a little late finding out about it to contribute any work (but I'll be sure to next time). Still, the show definitely had no shortage of great artwork for us to bid on.

Contemplating a bid on Jennifer Chang's Degas-esque sketch of a dancing woman.... I placed a bid and was promptly beaten into submission.

Dice and I had a very brief bidding war on this lovely woodblock print called "Lady Wonton" by Stef Choi. In the end, I wished him luck so that I might be able to see it again, if not in my own home.... but I think someone else won it altogether.

Ultimately, this is the one that came home with us... the first piece I bid on (and fended off several bids to the bitter end... or bidder end as it were). My first purchased painting, and for a good cause too! It's by Noah Klocek, a sketch artist at Pixar, who went outside to paint this in pastels during one of his lunch breaks.

Speaking of going outside and painting, I went to work with Alex this past Friday morning to paint a defunct old theater that I've passed by on previous visits to Alex's workplace.

"Cinema Paradiso" - Lafayette, CA - 9"x12" Gouache and Watercolor on Paper

It drizzled on me a couple times and I think this session is partially to blame for my current case of the sniffles, but after last Sunday's painting cancellation, I was motivated to rise above something as minor as inclement weather.

Hopefully, I'll be going outside a lot more to paint now that my favorite time of year is here: Autumn. I've got a bad case of the travel bug, and am hoping to treat it with many small weekend trips along the coast to paint.