94109 Nightscapes

PolkStCleaners

“Polk St Cleaner’s”, 12″ x 16″ acrylic on canvas

"Late Night Leopold's", 12" x 16" acrylic on canvas

“Late Night Leopold’s”, 12″ x 16″ acrylic on canvas

I recently completed these 2 paintings for the 94109 show at Studio Gallery. This paint-out showcases scenes and subjects local to the 94109 zip code and includes a great selection of cityscapes. These pieces are just up for a few more days, until this Sunday, June 9th. I’ll also be at the Marin Art Festival June 15-16. More to come on that soon…

I enjoyed these romantic palettes with creams and pinks. Both are scenes from Polk Street; the top, “Polk St. Cleaner’s” is a street scene with trusty neighborhood shop signs and cars tucked away for the evening. “Late Night Leopold’s” is the corner of Union and Polk, where a lone figure peers into restaurant windows.

Wait for it

 

Tonic

“Tonic”, a just-completed commission piece for the wonderful Utsumis of SF. 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas.

Sometimes you think you’re being leisurely and cool when you post new artwork for the first time in 6 weeks through your cell in bed, and then the ether holds your photos hostage in that space the chick from poltergeist was lost in. Take 2! Let the art-ogling commence…

As-yet-untitled 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas painting of dawn in the city

As-yet-untitled 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas painting of dawn in the city

This piece isn’t named yet. I have some good options floating around (again, that darn ether…), but no decisions. What sounds like a good title to you?

 

Also untitled currently, this is the final version of a previously posted 24 x 30 oil on canvas painting featuring a diner in Redwood City

Also untitled currently, this is the final version of a previously posted 24 x 30 oil on canvas painting featuring a diner in Redwood City

So this one isn’t new, but like the title of this post, I had to wait for it to be right. I stared at it on the wall of my studio for months and eventually I figured out what it needed. NOW I like it, and now I can seriously consider a title for it. Suggestions?

Thanks for your patience with my rusty blogging ineptitude. 😀

Studio stirrings

New acrylic painting on 16" x 20" canvas

New acrylic painting on 16″ x 20″ canvas

Hello art lovers! My involuntary painting sabbatical (aka the “busy season” of my day job) is over….kind of. The studio has been cleaned, which is a glorious thing if you’ve never tried it. You know what I mean. You’re eyeing your nightmare of a craft room as you read this. This piece, which I’ve yet to settle on a title for, marks the beginning of a new painting era for me. Some of my older work from 2008 was created in a looser style like this, with drawing elements like charcoal, watercolor pencil (above, seen in the tree and power lines) and conte crayon. Who knows why I fell down the photorealist-rabbit-hole, but after a few maddening years obsessing over details, I was ready to return to a more evocative, expressive approach. Like an adult getting on a bicycle after decades of absence, I doubted that I would be able to do it, but was pleased to see how easily the movements returned to me with my trusty angle shader (my favorite brush).

This piece was completed just hours before I learned that my father-in-law Bob passed away unexpectedly. In times like these, it’s as if the entire world simply stops. Or rather, the world keeps going as you remain transfixed. It is hard to think of doing anything, and yet, doing something somehow helps, hence this post. Bob was a vibrant person who loved his sons and friends dearly. I have painted several scenes from images collected on a trip we took with him to San Francisco. There are no words to express how deeply this loss has impacted Rob & I. We miss you, Bob.

I have a new painting sketched in, and anticipate rediscovery of art as therapy in this difficult time. As I complete new paintings over the coming months, I look forward to sharing them with you. Thanks for being here.

Under Water

"Under Water", acrylic on 16" x 20" canvas

I had the good fortune of spending a rain-speckled evening in Redwood City with my mom a couple of months ago. We had a delightful dinner and walk, in which I snapped some color-saturated images I’ll be using for my next slew of nightscapes. I sneak-previewed this piece to you guys a little while ago, and just finished it- there are dabs of at least 5 different colors on my fingertips as I type.

Detail shot

I love the rainbow colors reflecting on the dark asphalt, of course, but since this shot was taken from inside of a car, you can see the dots of diffused light in the upper part of the windshield. I could have edited them out for the painting, of course, but I decided to keep them in. I wear glasses and I suppose I have always felt like I’m viewing the world from behind multiple layers; in this case, behind glasses, a camera lens and a windshield.

Hint of a windshield

The subtitle on this sign says “climate best by government test” which I find hilarious for some reason. I chose the title “Under Water” as a twofold reference to the literal translation of a rainy evening and the figurative use of this term for the real estate crisis, as nearly 30% of homeowners in the bay area are currently underwater. But who wants to think about that on a lovely rainbow-colored night?

Another (kinda blurry) detail shot

If you get my newsletter, you know I just changed policies on my original artwork- all cityscapes for sale at less than $500 will no longer have prints offered and will be sold as one-of-a-kind original paintings only, like Under Water! Available for $400 now on Etsy.

Embassy of Cake

Embassy of Cake

"Embassy of Cake", 24" x 30" oil painting on canvas

Behold! The greatest painting ever made… by me… this month. It’s also the only painting I’ve completed this month. Which made me feel like I was working insanely slow, ala Vermeer- except, you know, without an actual sponsor or client waiting to purchase it. And I know it’s been a dreadfully long two weeks or so since my last post, for which I apologize heartily. I had planned to work on some mixed media bits in between, but then I stepped through the portal of painting torment and couldn’t get out until I finished this thing. It has been the all-consuming monster of my life for the month of March. I should be happy it’s done, but I don’t even want to look at it for a long while. Which is too bad, since it’s oil and it takes a bazillion years to dry, which it has to do in sunlight to avoid clouding. My studio is ridiculously crowded with curing pieces at the moment.

“Embassy of Cake” features a corner somewhere in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Despite the fact that the lower shop is charmingly titled “Uncle Restaurant”, I don’t know what the other buildings are. The left side appears to be topped with several flags, and the building itself makes me think of some kind of awesome ice cream cake, so I finally settled on the title “Embassy of Cake”. I’m not sure what kind of desserty business would go on in such a place- perhaps petitions to outlaw fondant in certain districts, or allowing German Chocolate to seek asylum or something. But I’m pretty sure cake tasting would at least be involved, which is enough for me.

I DID manage to cobble together a time-lapse slideshow of images illustrating the progression of this work, AND I kept track of the number of hours it took me to create it. Check out the video here. I’m trying to kick my art business brain into gear and determine how much time it takes to make these pieces so I am still earning a decent hourly rate- in the figurative sense that it only applies when I actually sell stuff, but you get the idea.

And in honor of that minor achievement, here’s a little contest for my devoted readers- enter a comment here on the blog to guess how many hours it took me to complete this piece. Entries will be accepted until March 31st at midnight PST. The person who gets the closest to the actual time will win a print of this painting! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to send that out for at least a month- it needs to dry enough that the shine lessens and I can take a high-quality photo without the glare, but rest assured that the winner will eventually get an 8″x10″ limited edition giclee of “Embassy of Cake” for free! Yay!

Also, in case you don’t receive my email newsletter and haven’t visited my Facebook Fan Page lately, I have a sale going on in my Etsy shop until March 31st as well. Use the discount code: spring15 to receive 15% off your entire order! I already have over 80 items in my shop for under $80, so it’s a great time to save. Happy Weekend, everyone!

Jellyfish Salad

"Jellyfish Salad", 24" x 30" acrylic & oil on canvas

*Warning- today’s commentary is a bit on the salty side. Just FYI. Not one to read aloud to the kiddies.*

Hello lovelies! The sun is shining, I’ve got a clear breathing path through at least one nostril, Radiohead just came out with a new album and I officially finished this painting last night, so I’m in a jovial mood. This, despite the fact that I almost suffered a cardiac arrest the other day when I picked up 2 tiny tubes of oil paint.

“$42?!?! Jesus, are they made from diamond dust crushed inside a unicorn vagina?!”

Somehow I stopped myself from blurting out my first reaction. I sense the term “unicorn vagina” isn’t really acceptable in polite company. Then again, charging someone $42 for a little yellow and blue isn’t something I’d consider polite.

It took me a week to hunt down the magenta I needed for that tiny ass open sign.

At any rate, I made it home with the much needed pigments and they did prove useful. The lemon yellow and pthalo blue knocked this piece out. For my artist readers, here’s a quick rundown of water-soluble/water-mixable oil paints- they are awesome. Are you using them yet? Why not? Oh, you don’t want to spend a million dollars on new paint? I’ve done some legwork for you, so check it out-

Holbein Duo- CRAZY EXPENSIVE, but extremely saturated, high-quality pigments, great consistency, excellent blending.

Winsor-Newton Artisan- CHEAPEST, and pretty decent depending on the color. Excellent water-mixable mediums, oils, varnishes, solvents- but you don’t need all new ones anyway, the oil ones work just fine.

Grumbacher Max- MID-RANGE in price and quality, in my humble opinion. Small tubes only far as I can tell.

I often magically edit cars out of my paintings, but the reflections on this one charmed me into keeping it in.

I have a few more nightscapes lined up. I’m enjoying working with images like this that include a couple of figures. For me, the high-contrast of the dark scenes emphasizes the sense of “looking in” and explores the boundary between intimacy and voyeurism.

To make paintings like these, I first have to roam around with my big DSLR, snapping images of people on the street without permission like some kind of roving Google Streetview flunkie. It makes me ponder how the increasing saturation of surveillance continues to erode our privacy… but of course, that’s not going to stop me from getting the pics I need to make my work. 😉 It’s like the lyrics from Radiohead’s “Life In A Glass House”… “well of course I’d like to sit and chat, only there’s someone listening in…”

I hope I didn't F up the characters.

As this piece features a hostess staring off into the night in front of a restaurant, I wanted to go with a food-related title like my last piece, “Pistachio”. Lots of good suggestions came my way… wasabi, wintermelon, ginger… but I looked up this place’s actual menu online and one of the first items jumped off the digital page and into my heart- “Jellyfish Salad”. To me it sounds like something off a Fear Factor challenge, but it’s also delightfully odd- just like me. 😉

Hot off the easel!

"Pistachio", acrylic & oil on 24" x 30" canvas

Long time, no posts! I know, I know… but I promise I was actually painting the entire time. With the daily project over, I decided to scale up in size and bust out the oil paints to complete a new set of nightscapes. This tested my patience much more than last year’s project tested my endurance…which is probably because I picked one of the most detailed reference images for the first piece, but heck- thought I’d get it out of the way.

I am still babysitting the final yellow-green glaze, and hell if I know how I’m going to manage to photograph this without some kind of reflection in several weeks when it’s tacky, but here it is for now. 🙂

This painting features some shops from somewhere within Little Italy in San Francisco. I was really drawn to this image because of my reverence for the inherent beauty of a transient moment. I love the feeling of being a passing voyeur with my camera, disappearing off into the night with a captured second on my memory card, cradling it and petting it and telling it I’m going to make it into a big pretty painting so it can live forever. Now that I’ve described it that way, it’s really more of a Golum-my-precious/I’ll-hug-him-and-call-him-George sort of mental image than I’d intended.

At any rate, I’ve started blocking in the next one, but I also began several small mixed media pieces to help flush the tedious-crankies out of my system, so stay tuned for those! I swear I will not make you wait three more weeks for new work. Scout’s honor.