Category Archives: Flowers

Crazy weather

It’s been ‘snowing’ ashes and the wildfires in Oregon have jumped the gorge. meanwhile there is a category 5 hurricane hurling towards the east coast. Don’t get me started about politics.

I’ve been experimenting with some watercolors, trying to do a more muted and effervescent feel.This one was a based on some dahlias I grew in my garden but I added some petunias and bougainvillea. This one I purposely tried to make the background flowers fade into the white of the paper. What do you think?

Dahlia, Petunia, Bougainvillea, 2017, 18x24, mixed media on paper

 

Here is the most recent watercolor of some chocolate cosmos that may have died because it ‘s been so hot here in Portland. I’ve been trying to get the right shade of pink and I think I nailed it. And I really like the way the blue interacts with the flower on the left. I should’ve held my ground and not gone darker with the red on the right. But there’s always next time!

Cosmos cloud, 2017, 12x16, watercolor on paper

I’m off to Pennsylvania and Colorado to visit some friends and family. Hopefully I’ll get some good shots!

 

Summer’s End

Beach 4, kalaloch

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of summer! That flew by so quickly. In art news, I am going to try to show some of my photographs from my trip to Mexico as well as some paintings at the art walk in Forest Grove next week. I’ll be at the Hidden Closet. I’ve never done something like this before so we’ll see!

The owners at Art on Broadway in Beaverton Oregon were nice enough to interview me for consideration for their guest art walls later in the fall. Not sure if I’ll make it but it was the a good opportunity and the first time I have ever talked to a gallery.

Here is Matisse the kitty “helping” me frame my work. I sure could use a studio helper!

I've been framed kitty

And on the day my little ginger kitty woke me up at 4:30 am, I somehow created this painting. I wish they all came out so effortlessly!

Pink Peony, 2017, Acrylic on Paper, 18x24

Cosmos, Gladiolus, and Amaranth Bouquet Paintings

I grew cosmos flowers and amaranth (for filler, although it is also technically an ancient grain that you can eat) from seed. It was pretty easy,  I literally through the seeds on the ground earlier in the year. The gladiolus was also cut from my garden grown from a bulb from a lady in Bethany.

Here’s a painting I did. Still trying as always to balance finished vs overworked:

Cosmos and Amaranth Still Life, 2017, Watermedia on Paper, 12 x 16

This second painting was a bit of a bear. I wanted to explore mixing the pink and green which looked cool in the vase part but the rest of the painting felt like a mess. But I kept going and eventually had fun painting the dots of the amaranth grain seeds. Might be fun to go over with oil pastels.

Cosmos and Amaranth Bouquet, 2017, Acrylic on Paper, 12 x 16

Kitty is ‘advising’ me on my drawing.

I love ikebana. There’s randomly an ikebana shop in Wheeler, Oregon in one of the vintage stores.

Here’s an amaranth and scabiosa flowers ikebana:

Plein air and Happy Eclipse Day

I finally met up with my artist friend, Randall Tipton. I haven’t seen him since 2016- so much has changed since. He and a group of his friends paint plein air style every week.

Plein air painting

He drove me to this spot on the Lake Oswego – Tualatin border on the Tualatin River. I struggled a bit because I didn’t really feel like there was anything compositionally for me to grab onto.

I did like the undulating colors in the water:

Tualatin River

So I just decided to let go and have fun. I was mainly trying to capture the cool rippling effect in the water and then I decided to make the mud of the painting a dark red! I don’ t think it was my best effort but it was fun!

Randall’s painting came out much better:

http://randalldavidtipton.blogspot.com/2017/08/total-totality.html

Here is a recent painting I did of a peony in an apothecary jar. I cut this peony from my garden back in May or June? I love the lilac color, especially against the naples yellow.

I’m always trying to strike the right balance of finished vs overworked.

Lilac Peony Still Life, 2017, 12x16, mixed media painting on paper

 

Kitty in da house

I have a new orange kitty named Matisse. As a result I’m extremely sleep deprived. He loves to attack my feet at night and go bonkers right when I’m trying to sleep. He also wakes me up at 5:30 AM sharp, meowing, “it’s time to feed me!” Any advice for the weary?

I haven’t made any new paintings this week because this cat is driving me nuts. I did get some extremely adorable pictures of him, photobombing my floral still lives.

Kitty flower

Kitty flower

Here’s the last painting I did, a mixed media study of bougainvillea that I saw back when I was visiting the Bay Area. I wish I could grow bougainvillea in Portland.

Bougainvillea

 

Art I Like: Word Art and some more of my watercolors

It’s flower season here in Portland. I have been doing a lot of fun watercolors.

Here’s one of some geraniums:
Geranium, watercolor on paper, 12x16

Geranium, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

Foxgloves are biennials, which apparently means they bloom every two years. I thought this was a yet another weed in my front yard and recently I got surprised by these lovely blossoms.
Foxgloves, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12x16

Foxgloves, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

I also grew a bunch of wonderful tulips this year. Here’s a view of the tulips when they get all floppy and flattened right before the petals are going to drop.

Spent tulips, 2017x watercolor on paper, 12x16

Spent tulips, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

And I could take pictures of peonies  forever. I have peonies in my garden! Hot pink ones and these pink frilly ones (I think they’re Sarah Bernhardts?) I want to grow tree peonies but they’re like $80 a pot.

Peony bouquet, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12x16

Peony bouquet, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12×16

Last time I mentioned I painted a canvas with a lavender background. I wrote out that dream quote in yellow paint and then smeared it out. Not sure where this is going. I could see this one being used for a landscape eventually or maybe I’ll make it an abstract. This canvas is larger than the ones I’ve been working on.
Work in progress
The canvas is sitting on an unstretched piece of canvas that I found rolled up (my mother had dutifully saved everything of mine). I’m going to paint over it as well with oil. We’ll see how the shapes in the background play out.

I was reminded of an artist  that I like on Pinterest …Jenny Holzer. She writes memorable quotes and they are embedded in all sorts of places: billboards, movie theater signs, etched in marble, projected on a building, etc etc. I love this quote:

This piece is so fitting for today’s politics:

Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise from the series Truisms T-shirts (1980-)

Untitled Bench, Jenny Holzer, Missing Peace Exhibit

I had a drawing teacher tell me a long time ago, in a place far far away that my charcoal drawings reminded him of Cy Twombly. I was fortunate to see Cy Twombly at a retrospective I think at the Whitney Museum several years ago. He’s amazing. He embeds words in scribbles and gestural marks in a very beautiful and effortless way

Apollo by Cy Twombly

Here’s a recent watercolor of a peony with the word daydream scribbled on top. Nowhere near  as masterful as  Twombly but we’ll see where adding words in my art leads me. Don’t quit your daydream!

Daydream pink peony

Daydream pink peony

Spring Flowers- some oil paintings

I’ve been awful about updating my blog this year. In fact I hadn’t thought about it at all when Portland artist Randall David Tipton emailed me to tell me he had read my blog post about his artwork that I wrote over a year ago. He returned the favor and highlighted a watercolor on his blog. Thank you Randall!

After a very long, wet winter (one of the wettest winters on record in Oregon), it is flower season here in Portland. This is the time of year when it is really hard for me to concentrate on doing any paintings because I just want to be out in the sun and take lots and lots of pictures.

Anyway, I wanted to update my blog to show some spring flower oil paintings I have completed recently. I wanted these to be light, bright, and colorful.  In the first painting of a quince bouquet, I wanted it to feel like a watercolor- painting with thin, transparent layers. This was successful for the most part but not sure if there’s too much ‘white’ left? What do you think? I’m going to do another one with the same technique, but start with a solid color background first to avoid that problem. I’ve prepped a canvas with a very light bright lavender. We’ll see how that goes.

Glowing quince, 2017, oil on linen, 16x20

Glowing quince, 2017, oil on linen, 16×20

This next one is also a painting done from the same quince bouquet in a teal vase but from a different perspective. I also used  a slightly different technique, painting much thicker. I think my obsession with Matisse shows a bit more here. Which one do you like more this one or the first one?

Quince bouquet, 2017, oil on canvas, 16×20

Here’s another closeup of a spring bouquet, I think composed of all the early spring blossoms:   quince, forsythia, and cherry blossom leaves. I had a lot of fun playing with color- glazing the background in teal and emerald green, creating the dark purple leaves.

Spring bouquet, teal. 2017. Oil on canvas, 16x20

Spring bouquet, teal. 2017. Oil on canvas, 16×20

Ninebark and other fall foliage- mixed media

I love the dark foliage on the copper beech tree but I don’t have a source nearby. I planted the bronze colored ninebark because it was drought tolerant and had the dark foliage that I desired.

Here is a mixed media (watercolor, gouache, ink) painting I did of  a still life I created using the ninebark leaves.

Ninebark still life

Here’s another painting inspired by the trees at the Sunnyside Medical Campus. The leaves are much more brilliantly vivid in real life, I guess I still got the greys of winter on my mind.

Foliage

I’m still obsessed with creating greys and muted maroons and I like how the complimentary colors meet to create these interesting, iridescent stains.

 

Oil painting floral still life is done!

After being on the verge of done for what seemed like months (mainly because I would go weeks without touching it) I think I am finally done with this floral still life!

floral still life by Betsy Chang
floral still life by Betsy Chang

Well, I think I am ready to call it quits. There’s a lot I learned from this process and of course I have more questions.

My major learnings from this painting:

  1. Which colors are transparent
  2. Making things lighter by making the darks darker first

which gets me to my current conundrum.

This oil painting is darker than most of my watercolors. That’s not just because oils are more opaque than watercolors. It has to do with the fact that I chose a subject that had a dark background (which I normally wouldn’t try in watercolors because it’s hard to find good greys in watercolor) and my oil painting technique relied on a  mid tone foundation with layered glazes ….without really ever using the color white. Whereas in watercolor, the white of the paper shines through and keeps things bright.

So this oil painting is not only extremely hard to photograph- hello glare- compared to my watercolors. It also feels dull and heavy in normal inside light, while under a nice bright lightbulb or in the sun you can see this amazing luminosity and the feeling of glowing from within that drew me to using oils in the first place.

closeup of painting in sunlight
closeup of painting in sunlight

So I don’t have any Rembrandts in person to compare, but is this just how it is for oils? Do you need like museum quality lighting to fully view them and normally they are just meh? I don’t know if i I buy that…

If so that’s another debate. Watercolors feel flimsy (on paper) and they need matting and glass to protect them which gets expensive and cumbersome. Whereas oils don’t really need to even be framed, but are they just ghosts without strong light?

Which do you prefer? Oils or watercolor?

An oil painting still life’s (slow) progress

I was told that my painting looked finished even in its previous stage, but I wanted to further develop the peach colored poppy and the pink ranunculus in the foreground. I really liked what was going on with the background area near the camellia stem and blossoms.

I love watercolors and thinking about how that translates to the transparency in oil paints.  Oil paints excel at providing really great dark tones for luminous, transparent shadows. Certain colors are particularly transparent: alizarin crimson, ultramarine, and sap green. Sap green is the best green ever, it’s so balanced it’s like a neutral color that you could add anywhere. Some greens are too blue or saturated that they look fake when you use too much of them, but sap green is just so agreeable and you can use it even straight out of the tube. I’ve learned one way to make a great grey: mix sap green + alizarin crimson + naples yellow.

At this point in the painting, I’m feel really impatient to be DONE ALREADY.  I keep needing to be reminded not to rush ahead, and to keep knocking back the the shadows, using the darks and midtones. With the peach poppy, I ended up mixing more murky greys and browns and then blending them, than using this awesome salmon color I mixed from yellow ochre + montserrat orange + cadmium red.

To create the yellow stamen and pistil center of the poppy, I used cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, and naples yellow.  (Side note, mixing yellow ochre is good way to add the yellow hue without going too light in value.) 4 tones are needed to create 3 dimensional form, so I attempted to mix 4 ish yellowish tones. Again, I was feeling frustrated because I see this part being so clear and bright, but the first layer  feels very vague and fuzzy.

For the ranunculus, I’m using magentas for the first time in the painting.