Tag Archives: art

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

Art I made in 2016

It’s been a productive year for my art.
Important things I’ve learned:

  • Use more paint, especially with watercolors
  • Figure out what to do with the background
  • Working with transparent oil paint colors

For next year I am going to be ambitious. I’ve already purchased some canvases and they just not to be painted. Hopefully I will also be able to showcase them in public, which means learning how to do things like varnish, mat, and frame my work.  I have so many ideas, I just need time!

Some highlights from 2016:

betsyness.com
work by Betsy Chang, betsyness.com
floral still life by Betsy Chang
floral still life by Betsy Chang
betsyness.com
betsyness.com

Footprint still life oil painting on linen 16x20

Bronze quince still life oil painting on linen 16x20

Ninebark still life

 

 

Now Offering Fine Art Prints

My print shop is now live via Instaproofs! I’ve uploaded photography from my recent travels.

Long Beach, WA

Eventually I hope to add prints of my paintings. I’m using a professional, high-end film print shop based in Los Angeles, Richard Photo Lab. These guys are wizards at color and are experts in their craft.

You will receive archival quality images on Fuji Crystal Archive Paper or  Kodak Professional Endure Premier Paper. I will be donating a portion of my proceeds to the Nature Conservancy. Thank you in advance for supporting my work.

Deschutes Forest

Exploring Color with botanical watercolors

I have mentioned before on this blog how I am always looking for great shades of grey. I have found one from a mix of transparent maroon and an emerald green.

AdobePhotoshopExpress_2016_10_03_13:44:49

In this painting of silhouetted quince leaves I played around mixing the grey on the palette and allowing the colors to mix directly on the paper. What do you think would be a good background color to complement them? The green turns this crazy bright teal color. It’s a little too psychedelic for me, but I really enjoy the shades of grays that are produced when blended with the maroon.

AdobePhotoshopExpress_2016_10_03_13:42:59

I tried this same color scheme in my painting of an ornamental plum tree branch, using a background of coral colored paint because coral and grey go well together. Again this is also feeling a little too garish. I think if I can get just the right amount of understated greys , it will look really nicely against a coral colored background.

What was interesting while I was painting this were the muted shades of maroon and green on top of the more tangerine colored background…together they started to make this brown color…too much of it and the painting would look muddy but just enough of it helps offset some of the bright saturated colors used elsewhere. It’s kind of like cooking (not that I can cook) where you seek to have just the right balance of acid…too much and the dish is bitter/sour…too little and the dish is too salty/sweet…with the right amount you achieve a superb balance of flavors. That’s what I’m going for this balance…I haven’t hit it yet but hopefully with the same colors I can get it in my next painting!

 

 

Wednesday night oil sketches

AdobePhotoshopExpress_2016_09_28_18:10:35

Here is a oil painting sketch of Moolack beach where I’m trying to capture the wind blowing across the sands while reflecting the sky during low tide. I’m using Arches oil paper which in theory should be awesome. As someone with a full time job outside of art, time for art is always limited. I have been looking and trying  various  supports that will simplify the task of art production (prepping canvases or boards until I win the lottery and can pay for my own studio assistant) and give me more time to paint. Unfortunately the Arches oil paper is as unappealing to me as their watercolor paper. It has the texture of a bounty paper towel and it is WAY too absorbent—it somehow doesn’t let me to remove any paint off the paper which for me is one of the defining characteristics of the oil paint medium—it’s malleability and wiping-off ease. So anyways for this study, I’m not even trying to do much glazing or thin layers. I’m aiming for bold, thick layers which I would never do on a canvas or linen but I almost have to do on this oil paper. I also did an under layer of acrylic. Actually I think this paper should be marketed as acrylic paper because it is thick and it is pretty decent for acrylics. But the paper is way too expensive to use for just that purpose.

So far this painting is too aggressive and chaotic to me. On this paper it’s hard to make the subtle blends that the location really calls for.  This painting just goes to show you how hard it is to paint simply. I’ve been admiring Katherine Bradford‘s oil painting work for a long time. Her work uses the icons and imagery of children’s art….superheroes, boats, and simplified human forms..but the work is decidedly not childish…it’s beautiful and masterfully done. All the haters that look at this type of work and say I could do that…trust me it’s not as easy as it looks.

Katherine Bradford found on hyperallergic.com
Katherine Bradford found on hyperallergic.com
Katherine Bradford found on painters-table.com

I also did another oil painting study of Bandon beach. We went down to the southern Oregon coast earlier this month. I haven’t posted about that trip but stay tuned. It was AWESOME!!!

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It’s at a stage where I like the looseness and softness (and the maroon color glazes) and I debate if I should continue and risk losing what I’ve already done by potentially overworking it. I’ll probably just keep going.

Emily Henderson, writer of the  design blog I read everyday, says that in the early stage of a creative career, it’s quantity over quality that matters. So in that spirit no point in being a perfectionist and being scared to ruin this painting….right now it’s about learning and exploring.

 

 

Lake oil painting study

I’m working on an oil painting landscape of Lake George at sunset. My goal was to use more vivid colors instead of the classic burnt umber understudy as the first layer in the hopes of capturing more glow and reflection. I also wanted to use darker transparent colors that I have not yet used before to ‘bridge’ the midtone, similar to the sweet pea study that I did a couple weeks ago.

There I painted the flower petals a bright lavender first. Then I glazed with a darker transparent color over it to build the mid tone bridge. This process is different than the slow build of dark to light. We’ll see how it turns out for this landscape.

In the first layer I used montserrat orange by Williamsburg mixed with naples yellow.  Even though the trees are going to be this fabulous green orange dusky color, I used this amazing purple called dioxazine purple as the base color, it’s dark, transparent, and fairly balanced between red and blue. It’s like the sap green of purples.

In my second layer I brought out the sap green and a darker green mix made of sap green, burnt umber,  and ultramarine blue.

At this point I was really hesitant to go over with paint for the fear of overworking what I already liked going on. But as I ‘ve been listening to inspirational words over the past year, you can’t be afraid to ruin it and I just need to treat this as a study, not as a masterpiece. If it’s ruined oh well I’ll just paint over it.

Being bold with the darks really helped ground the painting and I’m glad I did that. I also was lent this amazing maroon dark purple shade- not really sure what color it is but I’ll have to find a way to mix that. I love using dark maroons and purples in watercolors too.

For the orangey glow of dusk kissing the leaves I started mixing the transparent red oxide and the brown madder in with my sap green.

 

 

Acrylics and Grounds

An acrylic painting

I’m sitting in this mess of a room, looking at piles of artwork from the past year and half or so… and I’m thinking what was I thinking. So much of it is cringe worthy and I want to throw  them in the trash/recycling right now. In the spirit of Big Magic, I have to remind myself not to be too hard on myself, that all of that time and effort was part of the process of learning watercolor…which is seductively expressive and hard to control.

Meanwhile, as I have just started to get a grasp on watercolors, of course I’m back to trying to figure out acrylics. I have a huge tub of heavy body (Golden made up that term, not me, at least they didn’t call it hard body) acrylics in all sorts of fun colors. How much money I surely have wasted on different brands and types of paints… it never ends. Now though, I want to know more about the fluid types of acrylics that Golden produces, as well as all of the fun mediums that you can add to acrylic. They also produce a new line of “modern” watercolors, called Qor watercolors that of course I need to try. Sigh. As a side note, I have to give a kudos to all of the paint companies, their product specialists surprisingly will respond to emails pretty much the same day with informative advice. Comcast and Frontier, this is customer service!

But, after all of that, I came to this conclusion.  The softer, more absorbent ground is better for acrylic, it kind of counteracts the plasticy shininess that acrylic has when it is dried. So something like printmaking paper, like  Rives BFK, is terrible for watercolors. In fact I even think most of the Arches is too absorbent for watercolors, it feels like painting on a paper towel. But they seem to do well with acrylic.  Scott from Golden recommended I try their specially formulated Absorbent Ground.

The less absorbent the ground, like adding matte medium to your gesso or using papers that I like, are better for watercolors.

I’m still undecided as to how this works when you have a super slick ground like vellum or yupo…and you have acrylic, watercolor, and gouache.  Also not sure what how rice papers rate on this “scale” of absorbent grounds.  And oils man. OK my head hurts.

Some of the products that I want to try:
Fluid Matte Medium 
Absorbent Ground
Matte Fluid Acrylic (can I get my matte greys!)
GAC 100 (Scott recommended that I use a  medium like this to turn my paint tube paints into the fluid types)

Have any of you had any success with these art supplies? And despite it appearing like it, no, unfortunately I am not sponsored by Golden but would love it if they sent me free samples 🙂

I have to remember, that I have this stack of rejects that I should use when testing new types of paints and techniques!

Acrylic test
acrylic test on paper

 

Acrylic test on canvas
Acrylic test on canvas

Inspiration from Old Snapshots

Back when I had a flip phone, I used a fuji finepix digital point and shoot to capture snapshots. It was definitely a much clunkier process than the brilliant iphone. Buried on my desktop were pictures from maybe eight years ago. It’s interesting to see what random things I took pictures of, and what I found inspiring and still do: flowers, textures, patterns, shadows.

A pigeon in Italy. One of my few travels abroad. I dearly wish I could do more traveling.

Picture 190

The patina on this diner/storefront somewhere in DC. I don’t even remember where this is or if I have even been inside.

DSCF5437

Brick pattern in Italy:

Picture 189

Wall texture and water stains in Italy:

Picture 188

Martin Puryear’s spackle? and nail holes texture on plywood:

Picture 331

from one of the best arts exhibits I’ve ever seen. His sculptures at the National Gallery of Art. I wish Portland had a museum of the same caliber.

Picture 253

I’m sure I thought I was being so surreptitious in taking this picture from some exhibit, possibly the National Gallery of Art. Does anyone know who did this watercolor?

Picture 265

Ink stains. Maybe a Rauschenberg? I really have no idea.

Picture 301

Bright colors in what to me looks like part of Matisse?

Picture 313

I used to use my point and shoot to take visual notes even from books and magazines. This was before Pinterest. Look at this divine Giacometti drawing.

DSCF5869

Pavement crack patterns near Van Ness in DC:
Picture 367

 

The most bizarre marbled pattern on this fabric chair. And what is that plant in the sea of green it’s sitting in?

DSCF5949

I love watercolor washes. Probably since I used to make my ballpoint pen ink bleed.

answersheet