Odd Man Out, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 20.5″ x 40″, 52 cm x 101.5 cm
I have finished this new large painting, 20.5” x 40”, I have been working on inspired by the lanterns outside a funerary shop on Peel Street in Hong Kong. I posted a few months ago the sketch that I did, plein air, sitting in the alley across from the shop. I have always wanted to do the lanterns in a large painting. I really enjoyed working on this. It brought back so many memories of the day I sat in the alley doing the sketch listening to the Chinese opera music coming from the shop I was in front of, and smelling all the exotic smells from the food being prepared in the neighboring dai pai dongs and the incense from the shops.
I wanted to convey in the larger painting the delicate, colorful, light struck lanterns floating in the gentle breeze juxtaposed against the cool, textural concrete building, they were hanging in front of. I used some textural techniques in watercolor to imply the rough, dingy facade of the Hong Kong architecture. The bright yellow sign is typical for many shops in Hong Kong and I love how the shape and value of it, being washed out by the bright sunlight, adds another level of interest to the painting. Do you like how the Odd Man Out, has eyes on the Chinese goddess on the lantern below him? 🙂
Waiting in the Wings, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 17″ x 13″ , 43 cm x 33 cm
This painting Waiting in the Wings was inspired by my jaunts to Cat Street Market off of Hollywood Road, near Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong. A few of the vendors there sell Chinese Opera marionette puppets. Like the embroidered slippers, I was immediately attracted to them for the variety of color, pattern and personality!
I was happy with this painting when I did it. After recently getting it out and living with it a while again. I decided to do some tweaking. I felt the background was too much the same value as the rest of the painting and wanted to make the puppets stand out more. I also played around with more value changes on the puppets themselves as well as some lost and found edges. With a stencil I created a slight vertical striation very subtly in the background to represent the puppet strings without being to literal.
Waiting in the Wings before tweaking
I’m happy with the tweaks. A painting I thought was finished has a new lease on life! The title has become even more appropriate. 🙂
Watercolor Sketch, in sketch book on hand made paper, Yonghe Gong Lama Temple, Beijing, China
I dabbled with watercolor sketching, but really fell in love with it when I lived in Hong Kong. I had so much wonderful subject matter around me and I wanted to try plein air painting, so I started going out on location and painting in my watercolor sketch book. The major thing I learned after I started doing it was, it took away the intimidation of doing a painting in watercolor. Sometimes I would sit in the studio and look at a big piece of white paper and wonder if I was going to pull off something I was going to be happy with. Even though artists shouldn’t get caught up in that way of thinking, that everything we do has to be a winner because it always isn’t! After all it’s just paper and paint, but I think deep down we always want to be happy with what we create at the end of the day.
Watercolor sketching is a wonderful thing to do for so many reasons:
Sketching forces you to be quick and not over think things.
It forces you to simplify what you are seeing in the environment and not get caught up in the details.
It gave me a chance to feel more comfortable with the medium and took away the intimidation when I did do larger works in the studio.
If you do it plein air, it’s great to be out in nature or really soak in the sights and sounds of a place, much better than a quick photo.
Gives you a lasting memory of a moment in time when you were enjoying the act of painting.
Sketches can be used to develop bigger paintings.
Great way to meet people or connect with other artists if you go out together.
My watercolor sketch books go with me when ever I travel. Your sketch books becomes a treasure of meaningful memories.
In future posts I will talk about my materials and share some of my sketches. I hope it inspires you to try it!
This sketch was done at the Lama Temple in Beijing. I had a nice older chinese gentlemen sit down next to me on the bench while I worked on this sketch. We talked about a variety of things. I will never forget it!