Tag Archives: floral

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:

Two still life and two landscape oil paintings

I completed another blue painting of quince flowers inspired by the tonalist works of Whistler and Inness. I used thick cobalt blue to mark the petals. Cobalt blue is really pretty and I will have to use it again soon as a standalone color. This was painted on oil primed linen that I got on clearance from Blick. It’s a pricey, but wonderful support to paint on.

Cobalt blue still life

Previously I posted that I loved the look of raw linen and the universe heard me… Nancy Cuevas shared with me this product that Jerry’s Artarama sells of clear primed linen.

Footprint still life

The weave isn’t quite as nice as the first one but it’s an interesting challenge to preserve the beauty of the raw linen as a ground. Here’s one that I’m going to call “Footprint Still Life”. It’s a much quicker study and I accidentally stepped on it. I think I like it as is but stay tuned I may play with it some more.

I finally completed the small oil painting of my trip to Bandon Beach this past summer. These last two paintings are on canvas board, probably the least fun support to paint on but it’s nice to having something that is ready to go to prevent procrastination.

Bandon Beach

This last painting is a gift and inspired by my trip to Lake George in upstate New York. Lake George was immortalized by the great Georgia O’Keeffe. This painting comes nowhere near her genius but I was able to  explore colors that I had not used before and glazing pastels on top of other bright colors without any underpaintings.

Lake George painting

 

My glowing blue oil painting experiment

 

In my mood/concept mapping, I wrote down the words:

mystical
radiant
patina
residue
subtle, profound
fragile, ephemeral

not really sure where this is going but that’s the experience/aesthetic I’m working towards.

It is partially inspired by James McNeill Whistler’s tonalism paintings (there’s a great book by the Clark Art Museum) and I also saw his work in the National Gallery of Art in DC years ago.

I’m playing with all sorts of oil painting goop- gamsol, stand oil, cold wax, linseed oil. I am eyeing this strangely named medium, Neo-Megilp, although I am really trying to resist buying it to satisfy  my curiousity.  Artists of Portland…let’s meet up and try each other’s art supplies for the sake of our wallets!

I started with a dark transparent color, ultramarine. And wow is it glowing In fact, the painting actually really reminds me of a lot of the digital painting work that is coming out of ipads. Not sure if that’s a good thing, but I do like the texture, layering, and softness that is happening. I think I just need to ground the next one in a less artificial feeling color than ultramarine.

Also, this painting looks awesome in direct sunlight, but not as good in inferior lighting. I’m a little worried that all of my oil paintings are going in that direction…

Oh and I painted this on a prestretched oil primed linen panel that was on a major clearance at Blick. Boy could I get spoiled with this material!

 

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?

One Flower, 4 Ways: A Learning Process

Watercolor can be a battle, and I can end up with unpredictable results. I think that is why I am always drawn towards it. It’s so much fun. But it can get frustrating when the results are as they were today – inconsistent and illogical? I’m trying to find the lessons in today’s studies, because I think they all ended up pretty bad:

  1. This one is the most direct painting. I like the ‘drawing’ and the brushstrokes. But, the colors are too garish. The foreground and background don’t work together. It’s meh. 
  2. This one is working into a wet background, trying to pull the form like I do in oils. It became a muddy mess, yet I love the texture on this one the most and the weird blob cloud that comes out of the blossoms on the lower right is very satisfying to me and feel the most convincing of all the flowers I painted in this session.  But the rest looks like dodoo.
  3. I try to mix between 1 and 2. Here you an see that painting a lighter color over a darker color in watermedia looks really funky -not as much fun as in oils. 
  4. Choosing a focal point and painting in a direct way like in 1 with the most paint. Then in other areas picking a midtone and laying a background wash. Then apply slightly darker layers on top. This one was my favorite of the four studies and I think most successful until it started to get away from me.   I think if I had picked the right mid tones and then waited a little bit until that layer got drier and then went over with slightly darker shadesthat were still close too  that layer and then letting the dilution that comes naturally from adding water to the brush create a gradation. Not only waiting a little longer for the background layer to get dry but also premixing my colors in my palette more to get more accurate mid tones.  Wow I am overthinking it today. What’s next? I think if I was giving advice to someone else I would say simplify and try to keep everything the same and change one thing. I’m going to pull back on the color and try more monochromatic in the next session while focusing on things I learned in 4. Stay posted.

Library of Flowers

I have thought about coming up with a less lame name for this blog, but I haven’t thought of anything good. Which is why I am so jealous of this brand with the best name ever, Library of Flowers. It combines my love of flowers and books and art. So easy. Would have been a great name for this blog, too bad it’s taken.

Anyways here are some of their delightfully vibrant packaging- pretty floral watercolors: WANT!

Library of Flowers
Library of Flowers

They’re selling a bunch of items on One Kings Lane. It’s not cheap but candles and perfume are pretty pricey even at Target.

Watercolors

I had some lovely Pinot Gris and Pinot noir at a local vineyard near Portland with an unreal view of Mount Hood today.

   
That should give me enough liquid courage to post some of my recent watercolors. Normally I hate everything I do until I hide it away and look at it a few years later. A friend has encouraged me to blog more and show more works in progress.

Some watercolors of the dark foliage I have been obsessed with lately.

    I like the colors on this one but feels a little too flat.

 Lilacs. I like the green in the leaves.