Seeing Joy by the Fountains

Joy by the Fountains 11×14″ oil on canvas


What I brought on a bike

This painting was completed last week during a paint-out I had in Ft. Collins.  There was an art show usually put on by local artists in the town.  What I didn’t know was that there were two locations the show was in.  I was at the old town square, the heartbeat of Ft. Collins.  I soon found out that one other artist showed up.  But today wasn’t meant to be for sales or exposure. It was the coming out of my easel display.  I just got a new Jullian french half-size easel and wanted to break it in and show it off.  And why not?  I’m very proud of it, one of the best easels ever.  So I packed my easel, umbrella, table and another paint box with small works all with me on my bicycle.  Yes, Vietnamese style.  I managed to lug everything from my house to the Square.  It took around 20 minutes and thankfully my bungee cord held everything together.  Can you imagine how horrific it would be if my easel jumped off and tried to escape in the road?  Well that was on my back, so no chance of that happening.

My new easel display


My Easel Display needs a painting

So now that I had my easel display up, it was showtime and while I had my small paintings out for sale, I was starting a brand new painting.  I had no idea what to paint when I got there, just whatever seemed right for this moment.  And seeing kids playing in the fountains was something I never tried to paint before.  In fact, painting figures in my paintings is a new thing for me, so I wanted to see how it went.  I knew I had to work fast, get some images in my memory and paint what I think would look good.  Good paintings require what to put in, what to leave out.  I just wanted two or three figures in the fountain, and chose a little girl, a baby and her mother.  I didn’t want faces, I just wanted the gestures captured in a good way that expressed what the painting was about.  So that’s what happened and the whole thing was done in a few hours.  I enjoyed doing this, it was challenging and I was pushing my personal comfort zone, which was good.  That’s how you grow as an artist.  Till next time, happy painting!

This painting is now available in my gallery.

Roman Red Bicycle

‘Roman Red Bicycle’ 8×10″ oil on aluminum

The second painting of my Italian series just got completed.  I have also painted my first real bicycle painting.  I have led a bicycle-oriented lifestyle since arriving in Colorado a few months ago.  So I look at this as a universal subject.  What strikes me about the subject matter is not just the beauty of the bikes, but the backdrop it offers.  It is undoubtedly Italian to the core.  With its multicolored walls and cobblestone streets, the bike is not just an object, but part of a lifestyle.  And everything is a work of art in Italy.  It’s like you stepped into a real painting because there is so much natural beauty all around.  I feel there’s a certain focus on appreciation of art and beauty in Europe compared to America.  It’s such a part of life, one cannot imagine a bicycle not being part of Italy and its culture.

There’s also a new easel in my life.  I got a Jullian half-box french easel and it’s awesome.  Really, I’m very proud of it.  I made sure it was made of beechwood, because that material lasts the longest.  Forget using stuff made from plywood, it will fall apart easily.

This painting was done on aluminum as well.  It’s a smooth, metallic surface I wanted to try out.  It felt like painting on glass.  I liked it, but I also missed the canvas advantage as well.  But as an artist, it’s great to experiment with other supports and materials, and who knows if I’ll paint on aluminum again, but as of now, it’s good.  I’m continuing the Italian series from my trip to Italy from last year.  Stay tuned!

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I rode my red bicycle back to Italy

‘Florence Doorway’ 14×11″ oil on panel

I took a much needed hiatus to work on my life and art. Last time I posted, I was living in Vietnam as an art teacher. The job didn’t pan out like I hoped. I had such high hopes building a quality art program at a local, private school. I did all kinds of cool projects with my students. However, the school and myself didn’t quite see on the same level about the art program. So we parted ways and I stayed in Vietnam until February. I took short trips to Hong Kong and Cambodia before deciding to go back to the USA. What really drove me back to my own country? Well, besides wanting to see my family again in person, I got an art studio in Ft. Collins, Colorado. It was full of possibilities. To be in a great working environment with other artists was truly intriguing to me. I did have a small studio, about an 8×10 space. I was painting there nearly every day. Life was good.

But things quickly went south because I didn’t account for the high cost of living.  I’m still adjusting to American life and was in sticker shock about the food and rent here.  I couldn’t afford an apartment and an art studio.  And though I tried to live in my art studio to help save up, it wasn’t going to be a long-term solution.  So I had to give up the art studio and paint in my bedroom or outdoors.  So the past few months was quite an adjustment period and I’m happily back on course again.

So I decided to revisit my Italian trip from last summer and start a series of paintings that’s long overdue.  So I proudly present the first painting of my Italian series.  I actually did rent a red bicycle and rode around Rome.  Even though this shot was from Florence.  I do love doors and there happened to be a blue bicycle parked in front.  I thought red would be a much better color and ended up working well.  Sometimes a color tweak can really improve the scene.  And most important, I didn’t just work from a photo, but the feeling of being there again.   I wanted this old world feel to it, yet have some different styles I enjoy playing with.  And I love the bricks going around the old door, yet it’s still a simple scene.   When you have a mixture of styles, I believe it makes things more dynamic and interesting.  So there you have it.  Stay tuned for the process of my next painting.  And feel free to sign up for my newsletter