Tag Archives: painting

Lost Lake weekend

#lostlake #oregon

A post shared by Betsyness (@betsyness) on

I just came back from a relaxing weekend at Lost Lake, in the Mount Hood National Forest. It is aptly named because you will lose all cell phone and GPS reception to get there (on Lolo Pass from 26 or coming south from Hood River).  We didn’t plan on being disconnected from the internet but it was definitely nice to have a break from it all.

Lost Lake

This is the majestic view from the north day use area. Lost Lake is actually a privately run campground and you can rent boats. I was able to easily kayak from the boat launch/ general store area to the lakefront by the day use area. The lake is deceptively big, I tried to kayak from the northern part to the other side, close to Mount Hood. I would say Sparks Lake, Trillium Lake, and Waldo Lake are still my favorites but Lost Lake is definitely near the top of the list.

Lost Lake Oregon

There’s also a 3 mile roundtrip trail around the lake and a steep hike up to the butte where you can see 3 mountains.

Without having the internet to distract me, I had to amuse myself by other means. I did a set of plein air lake studies on watercolor paper:

Lost Lake plein air study 6 x 9" on watercolor paper

 

Lost Lake plein air study 6 x 9" on watercolor paper

Lost Lake plein air study 6 x 9" on watercolor paper

 

I normally don’t paint outside, you can’t really in Oregon except in the summer (at least I don’t know how other painters paint in the rain). I had to be much more economical and less fussy- using lake water in a plastic cup, not having a proper palette setup, painting much more directly on the paper. All while having bugs constantly try to distract me from painting.

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

 

 

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

 

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.

 

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!

 

Textile & ceramics in paintings at the Met

Remember the cool green jug I got from OKO Portland and then painted in this still life study?  Cezanne had a green one too and I got to see his paintings up close at the Met in NYC.

While I left mine pretty transparent, Cezanne painted his with glorious thick paint. I also love the patterned wallpaper. It’s a dirty yellow ochre, but somehow still glowing.

Here’s another still life with the green jug:

Here’s an amazing turquoise and deep blue pitcher in a Van Gogh still life. Isn’t that lime green background so yummy! His work is full of textural painterly brushstrokes but the paintings don’t feel unsettled I think because there is the balance of the thin, delicate dark paint strokes.

Look at these luscious textiles in these paintings by Vermeer.

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.