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One week of strange visions

I’m over 1/6th through my 60 day challenge. How has it been? Oh it has been a rocky road. I always knew that x day challenges are a back breaker for me. Posts won’t come in the same time everyday, some days I won’t get to draw anything and there will be too many merges for the days lost. But, I didn’t give up on it altogether. I’ve found a perfect hour to paint or draw. Right after lunch.

But this challenge has been so weird I’m surprised at my daily visions.

I did these digitalized black pencil drawings of mountains for days 5 & 6.

Digital art of white and black streaks on a white background.

And this strange field for day 7. Again, a digital artwork. I liked the negatives I created without assigning any meaning to it. Just a few possible visions. At this point I think I was refreshing my mind for new images I could create. And next? A canoe.

Soft pastel drawing of a canoe stuck in snow.

I was truly starving for inspiration at this point. And I turned to pastels, which is quite a change for me! I drew this piece inspired by John Harney’s beautiful photograph.

And for days 9, 10 & 11, I tried painting the same image in my head with different color palettes.

So far, I’ve found this challenge very rewarding. I think I’m learning more because of how much I want to create in a specific time frame. My favorite work so far is the watercolor painting from day 9. I just love the subtle pink and varied brushstrokes. But I’m also daydreaming of that canoe.

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daily

Flower bouquet

I think it’s good to take a step back every once in a while. Like when you’re a child and you’re window shopping with your grown ups, you stop at the toy store because they have something you didn’t see last week.

What about the grown ups? Where do we stop? Flower shops, cafes, designer stores, art studios, jewelry stores…the list goes on forever. I know I’d stop at them all, but a florist could take my entire day telling me about which flower I should keep in my vase. This is that stroke of color after three days of sketching.

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Blog daily

Passing time

Over the years I’ve been quite reluctant about X-Day Challenges. Not for what they did, but for the commitment it required. It seemed like too much sometimes. I’d ask myself, ‘what if I don’t feel like painting one day’ or ‘how will I squeeze in a painting during my finals.’ Always an excuse like that, nothing substantial that made sense to me. Which is why I had this unknown icky feeling about challenges.

I have two goals that align with a 60-day challenge: First, I’m hoping to juggle a few art styles at the same time. Second, I’d like something to occupy my mind as 60 days are going by. I have a move coming up (very excited!), but moving can be quite stressful especially during these unprecedented times. So I’m taking the time that I will be patiently waiting to create something meaningful and impactful for my future. I’m looking forward to take a glance at the challenge and reflect on it when I’m on to something new.

To shorten this post, I’m thinking of a broad collection I will create in these 60 days. And I will post the theme of the artwork a day ahead. For today, I have painted an inaugural piece in honor of me finally committing to a challenge, which is the artwork below.

Watercolor painting of the river merging into the trees with fish and bushes surrounding them.
Intermission, Watercolor on paper, 3.5×5.5, 2021

If you’ve been sticking around for a while, you’re bound to know my obsession with Fauvism. It started with small and round brushstrokes of vibrant colors and now it’s becoming more linear and structured. I’m not defining my work, but I’m reflecting on what’s changing. This is exactly my goal for the challenge. In this painting, I added two colors to my primary palette; ochre and green. But the arrangement is similar to the other Fauvist-inspired paintings I’ve done. I’m trying to give my paintings more objects.

For the first official day of the challenge which is tomorrow, I will be going back to black pencils. I’m still not sure what’s gonna appear on the paper, but it’ll be similar to my fauvist paintings. Black pencils and fauvism; crazy!

I hope you’ll stay around for the challenge and perhaps you could send me your work if you’d like to be part of the challenge!

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daily

The basics of an art block

Every effort to keep art alive in our lives is worth mentioning. I see keeping a micro art journal as the equivalent of writing a poem in the notes app. I think those poems aren’t appreciated enough. But neither are the pages of an art journal meant for subway rides and laundromats. Personally, mine comes out of the closet whenever larger paintings just don’t work.

So what do I think of these pages and how do they help me?

I’ve been guilty of not revisiting these tiny paintings after I’m over my art block. It may be because I have various ways of getting over an art block; sketching with pencils and charcoals, doing digital illustrations, attending virtual art galleries, watching documentaries of well-known artist, just to name a few. Yet that doesn’t leave out the instances I need to express some color in a jiffy. And that color needs to be laid out in a small piece of paper.

It doesn’t restrict me from pouring my ideas onto the paper; it gives me a window to look through. That window shows me all the things I needed to see during my art block. It’s like following rain drops and then falling into a river, but then realizing that the river is actually an ocean. And when you get out of the ocean, you see that you are in space. Because not every blue space is water.

Ocean and Fish, Watercolor on paper, 3.5×5.5, 2021

But this one is! And I just went with the feeling I had at the moment. Now if you’ve been with me on my “bubble journey” you know I’ve been exploring Fauvism, heavily influenced by Henri Matisse. Here is a recent post where I went full on Fauvist style. I used primary colors because I wanted to express myself clearly without the interruption of colors and the thought of mixing them. I went a step further in this second painting below.

The Park, Watercolor on paper, 3.5×5.5, 2021

Here’s a broader color palette, and more to look at. Brushstrokes of different kinds, various hues of limited colors; all things done in accordance to my mood. I say, just go with it. Even if you want nothing under your brush but a napkin, go with it. You can frame anything that means something to you. As long as it pushes you forward and brings art with you in every step of you way.

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Revivals

Reviving the blank distance between things: the appreciation of a canvas

I’ve embarked on my bubble journey toward Fauvism. It’s easy to get lost in the still life you can create within an art form. I’ve been very appreciative of keeping the white paper untouched with watercolors throughout the years. However, Fauvism has made it even more interesting.

As I’m heavily influenced by Henri Matisse, I’ve spent some time studying his work and the distances between things. The white canvas peaks through the colors stunningly. This reminds me of Paul  Cézanne’s art; the importance of what is left out. But that’s a different story. Henri Matisse doesn’t leave much out, he accentuates it with the white spaces around objects (in addition to the deep blue outlines). For now, I like focusing on the distance between what is portrayed and what is the significance of it.

I’ve been so used to merging objects and landscapes together that sometimes I’ve had to let go of the white spaces I could keep in watercolor paintings. But my experience of painting in Fauvist style has changed that. Everything is in its own place, not touching what’s next to it.

A watercolor painting of a stream in a field of trees.
The Stream, Watercolor on paper, 5 x7, 2021

I did this painting inspired by John Harney’s photograph. He is a wonderful photographer based in Connecticut. I’ve been leaning toward larger areas of colors and less brushstrokes with less water and more color. The presence of white paper makes me appreciate the vibrant colors even more.

This makes me think of the next chapter I will be going toward with Fauvism. Do colors get bolder within this art style?

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daily

Breaking the rules

One of the most amazing artists I know taught me an incredible but essential element of composition. I’m not going to mention it because it doesn’t apply to this painting, but his teaching made me think about my bubble journey in Fauvism.

He told me “now it’s okay if you’re going to break the rules, but that shouldn’t be the case always.” Then a thought popped in my head. I have to know the rules first in order to break them. That’s why so many pioneers went from a strict art form and then gradually stepped toward another. They broke the rules of the art form they were committed to because they knew how it should have been done.

I’m on another ride. I’m only learning and exploring at the same time as I try to commit to an art style, or an artistic bubble that won’t pop anytime soon. Oh well, I have a long time to discover that.

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daily

Some very crowded Tiffany lamps

I’m embarking on my “bubble” journey toward Fauvism. Yet, the honeymoon phase is over. My brushes are begging me to wash them since they’re suffocating with color. And here are four, extremely crowded, colorful Tiffany lamps which I cannot afford. If you’re around Main St. in Lake Placid, I like the orange one. It’s Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

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Revivals

Waterlilies: Impressionism or Fauvism?

I’m finding my exploration of Fauvism very rewarding. When I began studying the works of Henri Matisse and Andre Derain, I imagined the steps they took and what they were thinking when they were painting. I’m sure they weren’t thinking of opposing to Impressionism every second of their career, but it’s sometimes difficult to conclude whether your actions are motivated by decisions or oppositions.

I tapped into one of my favorite collections, by one of my favorite artists in my first revival. I spoke about attainting the right vision you’ll need for your artistic journey (or career) and now I feel that confident with the lens I’m looking through. Waterlilies is a collection that can astound anyone when they take experience Monet’s fluency in French Impressionism.

To avoid exhausting the subject, I will dive into my main source of inspiration. I was fortunate to come across John Harney, a wonderful photographer based in Connecticut. His new photo of waterlilies urged me to paint, but he continuously inspires me with every shot. Here it is.

The colors and saturations of this photo are unmatched. It would actually make for an incredible impressionist painting. But this (I) wild beast ins’t going down that path. The whole purpose of this revival is to oppose impressionism, just like the Fauves did long ago. However, I had my own oppositions with Fauvism too. For example, I’m continuing to paint with watercolors. It is weird and untraditional, but it is liberating.

I’m quite happy with the way my painting turned out.

Watercolor painting of waterlilies in a colorful pond.
Waterlilies in Litchfield County, Watercolor on paper, 5×7, 2020

I think the most valuable prize that comes with painting (and Fauvism) is learning about your own art style within the form you’re exploring. I can see my brushstrokes being rounder rather than linear, just like my handwriting. My colors are often more pigmented than watery. I’m also more keen on small brushstrokes, just like my preference for smaller paintings.

I will also be selling all paintings due to me moving in a couple months. I can’t wait to see my paintings hung in their new homes! Contact me via the commissions form if you’re interested in purchasing any of my work.

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daily

Diving into color

I was planning on a simple and emptier canvas for today, but I ended up painting a landscape. I mentioned that I will be exploring Fauvism in my own work in my last post, but I wasn’t sure which element of it I’d focus on first.

I’m leaning toward the liveliness of the colors in Fauvism. Not blending has been difficult, especially with the non-traditional watercolor approach to this art style. It’s a challenge especially when an art form is new to you, but there are things to appreciate as well. I’m really liking the sudden appearance of the white paper in the midst of bold colors. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.

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Revivals

Holding Henri Matisse’s brush

It took me about a year to really understand Fauvism. I don’t mean the basics and the history of it, no. I’m writing about the fine details in every painting. Since the pandemic began, I haven’t been able to go to any museum to see the paintings. So I had to be really careful with what I thought I was learning from each artist. The brushstrokes, the vibrancy of the colors, and the deep blue outlines. It’s easy to retrace a technique in your head. But it’s a different story creating a picture and coordinating the movements in your head with your hands.

I was always so astounded by Henri Matisse’s Landscape at Collioure collection. I can stare at it for hours, days even, and there will be a section of the canvas that feels new every time.

Henri Matisse's Landscape at Collioure.
Henri Matisse, Landscape at Collioure, Oil on canvas, 1905

So I decided to begin holding Henri Matisse’s brush for a while. It’s quite a liberating thing to do. I have never felt both control and freedom with the strokes and shapes. I’ve also been more honest about what I want my painting to mean, what sense it needs to make. I’m slowly in the process of making art more meaningful, rather than it being beautiful.

Watercolor painting of two trees on sparse grass with yellow flowers, surrounded by orange leaves and blue, angular raindrops falling from two clouds.
I used watercolors. Quite a different approach.

When I started painting this piece, I automatically changed my plans of making the grass uniformly green. I also let my leaves look more like waterlilies in their shape. And for me, the blue needed to look different than raindrops. It needed angle, more movement with my fingers holding the brush and less curve in my wrist. The most natural part of this process was using colors directly from the pan. It would have been more common for me to use oil or gouache paints, but I wanted it to be something I never experienced before.