Category Archives: Europe 2018

Yellow Porto House

Yellow Porto House was done from one of my trips to lovely Porto.  It’s a rustic, gritty and hilly (but never silly) old city that has a lot of charm and history.  One of my favorite things to do in Porto is just walking around and taking every sight, smell and hint of Portuguese food in through my senses.  There’s always something new to discover every time I visit.  Last time I visited Porto, I went to the Gaiya section, which really is the tourist part of town along the river.  And it’s quite nice as you might expect.  Lots of new and old shops, filled with antiques and local crafts.  Personally, I can’t get enough of the Ginja (cherry liquor) in a small chocolate edible cup that’s so divine, it yells out, “here I am, now we can celebrate!”.

So after my short affair in that part of town, I walked in the quiet parts of the neighborhood nearby.  I love the old homes and the way the tiles and rooftops just have its own character.  The old homes are the true personalities of Porto.  When I came across a yellow house on a short and narrow path, I was in awe.  I had to stop and marvel the beauty surrounding it.  The house in-between two other buildings.  But even more, the view ahead of the house.  The Porto Eifel bridge, built by the same guy who built the Eifel tower in France in the distance.  The natural blue skies with the fluffy clouds from an old Portuguese storybook, it all made for the perfect setting of my next painting.

I used my limited palette of colors on an orange background along with a sketch of the scenes.  I knew ahead that the yellow house was the main focal point and the lightest object, and the path in front would be the darkest.  Painting the river and its bridges in the background, I had to lighten up so they would recede in the distance.  I used limited brushstrokes for the yellow house and that turned out great.  I got expressive with the rooftop and added the stones for the walls in the foreground.  There was a lot going on, but also a lot of variety.  And the angles of perspective helped.  So glad I did this one, it was fun and can’t wait to do the next one!

 

Yellow Porto House
11×14 inches
oil on canvas board

Innocent Jim Morrison

Being Jim Morrison couldn’t have been easy.  Was he really an innocent bystander of the chaos around him?  You have all these adoring fans who love you for the wrong reasons perhaps?  At least that’s what Jim must have thought while his tenure was in The Doors.  Outside of his bubble, people assumed he was a spastic, wild man at a rock-n-roll circus.

 

Painting an innocent, poetic legend…

Inspired by the lizard king himself,  I wanted to see what my rendition would look like from a tv photo I saw from a soundstage performance.  I wasn’t trying to get the likeness as much as the essence.  And I used a limited palette of colors and brushstrokes.  With unapologetic, decisive calligraphy-like brushstrokes, It resulted in a clean, unfiltered version which surprised me when I saw the result.  I’m a huge Robert Henri fan and his influence was clear from this oil study.  Not really a finished painting, but just a quick drawing of possibilities.  I was trying to break through my own personal boundaries as well.

 

Back to the Lizard

The Doors were often mentioned like a “mirror”, to reflect what was happening in the 60’s.  Jim expressed himself in a highly intelligent form of music that was truly poetic, because that’s what his mystical lyrics were.  Mystical and beautiful.  Pure Poetry.  Purer Magic.  Bob Dylan was similar in that he express his poetic views of the times as well, but Jim took that to another cosmic dimension where abstract thinking and the sublime subconscious brought us to different worlds to help see our own from a different perspective.  Maybe not so innocent?

 

Rebelling against himself?

Yes, the Doors and especially Jim Morrison helped break boundaries of what reality was and could possibly be.   He lived, breathed and believed his own art and wanted people to believe it with him.  Unsurprisingly, Jim became antagonistic towards most of his fans because he thought all they wanted to witness was the spectacle of a wild child rock god.  “Hear my words if you want to understand me”.  How displeasing Jim must have felt knowing most people didn’t quite understand his words at that time.

Years after Jim broke through to the other side, his music and words endure today.  Time has revealed the endurance of the artist’s poetry and persona.  In fact, the lizard was deemed a mythical figure and somehow gave the audience exactly what they wanted.  A legend or jester?  A musical shaman or superficial showman?  Additionally, Jim was never perceived as an innocent artist in the circus of life.  As a result, he became an unapologetic outlaw wearing his snakeskin soul on his sleeve.

 

This is the end…

To conclude, Jim Morrison tested the boundaries of music and life.  Most of all, he gave us a new meaning of what possibilities are within us if we just recognize the beauty in our light and darkness.  Expressing your own art isn’t always rainbows or roses.  Especially if you’re an artist and sometimes you have to let the darkness in to make it free again.  Painting Jim was great for me and personally I felt like I broke through something special.  Jim broke through the darkness to help us see our own insecurities and accept them, so that we may bravely experience some personal revelation within ourselves.  And through his art, we sure did.

Jammin’ in Picasso’s Cafe

My recent trip to Barcelona was a visual feast of Gaudi buildings, art, food and music.  I mean when you visit a place, you can tell that the arts has a large and profound influence on the city.  You can immediately sense that in Barcelona.

I have been soaking up everything weird and colorful here.  From all kinds of unique shops dealing with eclectic art and raunchy chocolate snacks, there is literally something for everyone here.  It is nice when you can jump out of your own comfort zone and into a place like Barcelona.  People are very enthusiastic about their city.  Independence is important to them, to have their own Catalyn identity and history is what sets this region apart from the rest of Spain.  One of my own personal highlights came when I found a cafe that Picasso was associated with.

I found out that this cafe called 4 Gats was an important historic landmark because it was where Picasso had his first art show at 19. Which is ironic, because that’s how old I was when I began my art journey despite all the negative resistance from family.

 

Not many people know this about me, but I took piano lessons as a kid and have a greater appreciation now than before. I wanted to know what it was like to play at Picasso’s old hangout spot and once I saw that piano, I had to go for it. The moment lasted just a minute but I knew it would be special for me.

There are moments in life you just jump before your mind gets to stay stop, and you know that’s when it’s right for you. Luckily, I recorded this moment and had no idea what to play, so I improvised. And here is a taste of it…