Thursday, August 14, 2008

a watercolor journey

hey gang
i'm finally posting some promised pictures of the paintings i made while living in portland last spring
i didnt want to put these up at the time, as i was planning on giving some of these paintings as surprise gifts for some special people
and then i just got lazy and forgot to post them
but here they finally are!
and im proud to be able to show you one of my dear hobbies
amateur though i may be, painting gives me a unique joy
when i paint, my mind travels to a place that is far away, and i dont really mind how it turns out in the end (and i have had some pretty hideous paintings!)
but usually, im pleasantly surprised when i 'step out of painting mode' and survey the results
i hope you are too

this was my first attempt
i wanted to paint something that reminded me of hilo, since i was so desperately sick for it :)
it's a sunrise with a view of mauna kea
and that's hilo bay below

in my second painting i tried to be more free with the water and colors; painting wet on wet
i hope this painting reminds you of the oregon coast, because that is what i wanted to depict
even though i didnt grow up on the coast, my family often came to the coast when i was little (and even still now) and so the atmosphere of an overcast shoreline stretching around a sea of deep green is a dear place i return to often
i experimented a little with mixing some colors on really wet paper to create this cloud pouring out its water into the ocean
i really liked how it turned out
and for some reason, the image of rain falling on the ocean is pleasant to me
we see rain falling on land all the time, but we (or i at least) dont usually acknowledge that it must fall on the ocean a lot too
but in the ocean, it doesnt do any of the things it does on land
it doesnt erode mountains, doesnt make rivers or lakes, doesnt water plants or animals or people
it simply vanishes in a unfathomably vast reservoir of salt water...
the last two paintings were not too complicated
i was able to finish both in about a day
but my next experiment would prove to be quite the opposite...
since the other two paintings reminded me of two important places to me, hilo and the oregon coast, i decided to next paint something from my time in korea two years ago
i chose to paint a picture i had taken while riding a train from seoul to pusan
although i didnt spend very much time out in the countryside of korea, the little i experienced of it really stuck with me, and i loved this picture of people waiting at a station in the middle of nowhere
plus, the photo was super - with trees and city buildings in the background
but painting a picture such as this one proved to be a much bigger task than i expected
sketching alone took a day
and painting took over two weeks (and i was painting everyday too)
but this is also because i chose to paint dry-on-dry and when you have crisp lines, you tend to spend more concentration and time on detail
still, the effort paid off
i really like the way the colors stand out and blend together at the same time because of the shadows
when i finished this painting, i decided to give it to my uncle and his family
i wanted to thank him for giving me a job for a few months at his warehouse
it was so nice to work at my own pace (and i dont mean leisurely!) without having to deal with customers and grumpy employees
plus, my uncle paid me pretty dang well, so it was really thanks to him that i didnt have to work in april and had all this time to paint - had i been forced to get a job at a local grocery store, i would have had to work all spring for pittance and under lousy conditions to save enough up for my summer here in fairbanks
these next three paintings are a series of smaller panels which i made for my friends chris and sarah's wedding (see earlier post)
as you can see, they are in a japanese wall scroll style
i did a lot of experimenting with these also, specifically with the 'stripy' wash-background which i painted first to give the whole piece a sort of 'faded scroll' look
to be honest, while painting this, i really felt like i was ruining it already, but i finished the whole thing anyway, and when i put all the pieces together, it really looked smart!
i was quite happily surprised, reinforcing my determination to finish a painting even when things dont seem to be lookin' good mid-way through
the image of this girl was inspired by a character from Kawabata Yasunari's novela The Izu Dancer (伊豆の踊子 - 川端康成) i looked at a few books of japanese wall scrolls to find ideas for this panel - the largest one
the third panel, this one, i wanted to keep really simple
i saw a painting where the sun was painted by leaving a circle unpainted - i really like that
and i added a couple birds for character (hopefully not cliche)
here is the final arrangement of all three
in retrospect, i would have liked to have mounted them better - i had imagined 3 separate frames for each panel, arranged as you see them, but it was pretty much impossible to find frames that would be the right size
and custom frames are super spendy
i hope to someday rectify this and present chris and sarah with some frames
nevertheless, i was so glad they appreciated this gift
while making it, i wasnt sure how it was going to turn out, and i hoped it would be something i could be proud of!

well that's all for now!
you can bet that i'll be putting up more pics of my paintings as they come rolling out
i really love working with watercolors
because the paper and paint is wet, there are infinite possible effects that are just waiting to be discovered!
and the result is so spontaneous and fresh
of course it is helpful to take a painting class (the one i took has been pretty valuable to me)
but ive learned soooo much more from just experimenting
that's probably why i like watercolor so much - to me, it embodies life
im working on something right now that looks pretty cool, so just wait!
it'll be done soon!
and i likely soon be painting something from alaska
...once im gone and miss it and my memories take me back here...

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