Sunday, October 4, 2015

Old Horse Trailer

I was back at the old horse ranch in Altadena recently.  I posted Altadena Ranch about my watercolor on my first visit there.  The location is up against the hills with lots of old trees so it seems the sun is late getting to that area.  It was about 12:30 in the afternoon when the sun peeked through.  The huge cacti were blooming this time which I loved to see.  This was my first painting after the Chien Chung Wei workshop.  I've found that after workshops it's a little hard to paint while all those new techniques are in my head.  I really liked the old horse trailer last time so I gave it a try.  It's such a relaxing and secluded spot, and we had a very friendly horse wondering what we were doing.   

8" x 10" Watercolor


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Virtual Paintout - Utah!

I was surprised to see that Bill Guffey had chosen another US location for the September 2015 Virtual Paintout...Utah!  I've only seen a bit of the bottom part of Utah in person and I remember loving the scenery.  Wonderful landscapes, rock formations and colors.  As always I wish I had time to look around more.  Looking around using Google Street View isn't the easiest thing to do but I always find amazing views.  Of course I narrow good views down to something I'd like to paint and try to be representative of the area.  These two views are from around Park City and I wanted to find some snow.  This month I wanted to try to incorporate some of the things I learned in the Chien Chung Wei workshop.  Those lessons will take time to soak in I'm sure.  I'm wondering if the October location will be in the US as well!

5" x 7" Watercolor

5" x 7" Watercolor

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chien Chung Wei Workshop!

In August I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take a workshop given by Chien Chung Wei, the amazing watercolor artist from Taiwan.  Chien came to the United States after giving a workshop in Italy, then Canada.  Next he was in Portland, Oregon, working his way down to Pasadena.  From following Chien on Facebook I was getting a hint of what an exciting workshop it would be. 

Chien has a school for watercolor study in Taiwan so he wanted to condense the three year course into three days for us!  It's all about the "DNA of Beauty".  He has ten foundation points of his DNA that we should learn and they should become a habit while we paint.  Six points were "Yes" things to keep in mind (like "more detail in the focal point") and four were "No"s (like "no sameness or overdoing").  Chien's emphasis is on good composition, having the elements of size, shape, value, color, detail, balance, all working together.  He also showed us how to fix bad brushstrokes.  He would rewet part of a stroke and put lines through it using the ferrule of a small inexpensive brush.  Chien also used the edges of a palette knife to add texture and abstract interest.  I hadn't seen that kind of work done before on a watercolor piece.  Opaque watercolors are also something Chien uses often.     

After watching Chien paint a snow scene we all tried the same scene.  This was the only piece I painted in the workshop.  At the end of the first day he handed out a postcard of one of his paintings to each of us and we were to paint it as an abstract as homework.  My postcard was an older piece of his, a floral still life.  I tried the abstract but didn't take it far enough since it still looks like a vase of flowers.  I should try it again.  Chien emphasized the abstract quite often.  He likes detail in a painting to be "loose detail", abstract.  Also what isn't important in the piece should be abstract.    

Originally the workshop was to have some plein air painting outside but the weather was too hot.  A very hot weekend.  Chien asked us if we would like to see him paint more demos or if we would like to paint more.  It was unanimous to watch Chien!  He is a very animated, while thoughtful, person.  What a treat, and I'm looking forward to taking another workshop from him sometime. 

8" x 10" My watercolor after the demo 

Chien first day

Completed Venice night scene, second day

Third day demo started

5" x 7" Watercolor - my not-abstract-enough piece

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Our Library

I've painted at our local library in South Pasadena several times now.  Time flies since it doesn't seem like a year ago I painted and posted South Pasadena Library.  At a Saturday paint-out in August, I tried a gouache piece mostly because of the lovely pink crepe myrtle tree.  (I see it can be "crape myrtle" too!)  The cool pink of the flowers contrasted with the warm terra cotta roof tiles.  I recently took another watercolor workshop that I'll post about next I think.  It seems we've been having very hot weather on paint-out days! 

5" x 7" Gouache

Monday, September 21, 2015

Overcast Hillside

Last month we had a few overcast days which is unusual for August in Southern California.  On the Friday paint-out schedule was Art Center College of Design.  The art school is located on a hill in Pasadena and we hoped for some views of the mountains and the city below.  It was registration time so classes weren't in session and we met at the end of the parking lot.  Since it was a dreary day we didn't have much of a view and the hillside was very overgrown which also blocked the view.  I tried a watercolor of the curving road down the back hillside with lots of trees and foliage.  No structures this time so it was fun to try to make this view interesting.  

10" x 8" Watercolor

I usually see deer on the drive up to the campus.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Dome

I was happy to see Caltech (The California Institute of Technology since 1920) on the paint-out schedule.  At our Saturday morning paint-out two years ago I painted a watercolor and a gouache piece, and posted them in Caltech!  It was ambitious to paint the two pieces in a few hours, which I used to try regularly.  I haven't done that recently.  We were back at Caltech not too long ago but my attempt at a watercolor was not so good.  I think maybe cropping it down to 5x7" will improve it!

The architecture at Caltech is stunning.  Very picturesque for plein air painters and we don't seem to have a problem being there on Saturday.  One of my painting friends mentioned a building east of where we parked that had a blue-tiled dome.  I knew about the two striking blue-tiled domes at the west entrance but not this one.  I had to go check it out.  While walking there I passed an old deco building with a lovely courtyard and tiled fountains.  Such a nice place to paint.  I had to try painting the dome building.  It was surrounded by tall pines while across the street where I sat to paint, there was a beautiful "water-wise" patio area with Palo Verde trees, tables and chairs.  It was fun to find out about a new-to-me area.  And the art deco domed building at the edge of the campus is now the Electric Charging Station.     

10" x 8" Watercolor

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Rose Home

It was back in July that we painted at the San Gabriel home of the Rose family.  Originally from Bavaria, Leonard Rose came to California in 1860 and established his family in the San Gabriel Valley.  He had many acres of orchards, a vineyard, he bred horses on his ranch named "Rosemead" (a city now), and he even became a state senator.  His son Guy Rose became a top early California Impressionist painter.   

The original 1861 Rose home is still there, the oldest wood structure in the area.  It was a very sunny morning when we met to paint the house but the bright sun and deep shadows were beautiful.  There was one tree across the street that provided some shade for most of us and I tried a quick gouache piece before it got too hot.  I kept imagining the suburban neighborhood and businesses with none of it there except for the red house.  While we painted, several neighbors walked by and bicycled past mentioning the history of the landmark structure.  Nice to hear how much it's appreciated!

5" x 7" Gouache