The Big One

After all those studies, I attempted The Painting.
This is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph in downtown San Jose. A stunning building from 1877. Before starting, I told myself it is yet another study, just on larger paper. Just a study. But a study. Only a study. I like what Frank Webb says about having a fresh stack of watercolor sheets being akin to more tomorrows. The studies can continue....this isn't the end.
I tried to use more water than normal so my color looks more transparent and not so pigmented. I am fairly pleased with this but I think it needs some punch - some spots of dark. I'll let it sit for a couple of days while I attack another study [-ies] and come back to it. I do need to step back more often during painting and evaluate it as a design on the paper - where it's off balance, where it needs more of a certain color, how it sits on the sheet, etc.
P.S. Despite the blooms, this isn't really a floral study.

The sparkle at the Ferry Building

A small loose painting to show just the essence. I added the "sparkle" as Bill Dunn says - it really makes a difference. Less is more.

And then some more...

Still continuing to explore color palettes and leaving more white. Not there yet, though I do love the juxtaposition of the orange and purple in the palm tree in the first painting below. I need to leave more whites like Mr. Reid.

Planning the painting...over and over

I'm finally starting to get values and value I truly understand the importance and all the theories about passage, linkage, focal point, using the reference material as a starting point and no all beginning to make sense. The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are coming together, with fewer missing parts. The aspect ratio of the final painting matching that of the value study - so important. I knew that but disregarded it every time, and stumbled along, making the same mistake over and over and not understanding why the painting wasn't working. I am getting it now.....a strong value pattern is really a jigsaw puzzle in black and white. The initial work is in the silhouette, not in the details. Jigsaw puzzles have popped up at different points in my life - and had several metaphorical meanings. Now, in hindsight, I can connect the dots and understand the importance of the various pieces. Isn't life a jigsaw puzzle? So many parts - seemingly unrelated, b…

Direct painting

I read about Direct Painting - painting directly without a drawing in one pass, with no layering - in two different places just days apart, so decided to give it a go. What looseness ensued! There were no pencil lines to imprison me or the paint, and it was good to see the colors run. As long as the big shapes are there, the eye fills in the rest. It was a liberating experience.

Driving through Los Altos

I took a picture of this scene when driving on Covington Avenue in Los Altos in the mid afternoon. Beautiful shadows, and of course, the bright whites. I love it when I see something that catches my eye, pass it by, then drive on, continuously thinking about it, and am finally compelled to make a U-turn to take a picture because I can't forget it, and have to have it, and have to try to paint it. This was one such instance.

St. Nicholas, Los Altos

I love the Spanish style (Spanish Colonial Revival?) tower of this church in Los Altos, with the stunning blue, curved roof, and the marvelous shadows. I always turn my head to see both faces as I zoom past it on Foothill Expressway.
The first painting was a quick, no-pressure painting; and the second one was a planned 'this will be a lot better' painting.
No guesses as to which one is the better of the two. Why am I not surprised? That dreaded pressure, and the inevitable result.

Los Altos Library Exhibit

November is almost here, and I am frantically getting ready to hang up my art at the Los Altos Library on the 1st. November is filled with deadlines; another one on the 2nd, one on the 5th, another on the 6th, and another one on the 13th or so. I have to focus on the first one, and use the subsequent gap to focus on the next....
Always the architect, here is my layout of the 32 paintings I plan to put up. One of them, Rockland I, was accepted into the Pacific Art League competition/exhibition through November. So, it must come off the Los Altos wall [virtually, at this point], and make its way to Pacific Art League in Palo Alto this Friday [physically].
I am super excited to have two venues to call my own in November.

Figures and shadow shapes

I caught the dazzling late afternoon light hitting Kabir's left side while he was putting on his shoes, and had to capture that. Here is the original photo I took, a value study, and two watercolors using different color schemes.

Workshop with Charles Reid

I went to Rockland, Maine, all of last week for a workshop with Charles Reid. It was surreal to see the master himself. We connected over a group dinner - I sat across from him, and told him about the Kuwait invasion and my childhood. I offered to share my story Brink with him - he said he would like to read it.
Here are a couple [the best] of the 10 paintings I did. I will post the remainder soon.
We had a full day of figures/portraits from two live models. Now I am obsessed with the shadow shapes I see on the faces of people, and in photographs. See next post for what I've been up to since I got back on Saturday.


I was inspired by Iain Stewart's style on his YouTube video/website, and wanted to paint that way - with layers. I used two photos of Scotland to create this scene. I used the background and the variety of buildings from one image, and two boats from the other, and played with values to create interest. This will also serve for the first assignment [theme: Reflections] in Jane Hofstetter's class this Wednesday.
I like the cohesiveness that a limited color palette brings. I thought about the colors beforehand.
I am not too pleased with the reflections - I winged it instead of really understanding how the buildings should/would be reflected. I did draw all the lines but painted haphazardly and irreverently.
Overall, I still like this - and it is the limited colors that carry the painting through - and the looseness is perfect for me.


This was done at the beach in Capitola. I am intimidated by figures, but fascinated at the same time. What drew me to this boy lying on the sand was his stars-and-stripes shorts, and the way the light hit the top of his body - my eye could follow the line of light from his feet to his neck. I tried to capture that. I drew it quickly in pen and then did very loose washes.