Wednesday, August 26, 2015


This was a result of a plein air study I did during a urban sketching meet up. I chose the Holy Rosary Cathedral on Richards and Dunsmuir because of it's architecture and the way the light and shadow presented itself on it. It was also another chance to use my watercolor easel and learn something new from life!

It was a bright sunny Saturday morning and I found myself away from everyone in the group. I spotted 2 of my fellow urban sketchers within an eye shot from the 4th floor of a nearby parkade. The vantage point was better than ground level, but location wise was a bit challenging as the parkade walls impeded my vision.

I had to lean out to get a good look. I decided to take a picture of the full view and have it ready when I just needed to quickly look at something. 

Here's a thumbnail working out the composition and value distribution. Working small is a great time saver and it saves your much needed energy and focus for the actual piece to paint.

My objective was to simplify what I saw and target values. Color will be arbitrary.

Things that I learned from this experience:
1) When you see the light and shadows that you like, don't be tempted to change it later when you see another light and shadow pattern form because the light source, the sun, has moved. Take a picture of the scene first and then capture of it by eye as much as you can. The picture can serve it's purpose  when the light and shadow pattern changes later.

2) I used negative space to describe areas where the light is hitting.
3) Stairs adds repetitive shapes and establishes a directional element to lead the eye.

I wasn't happy with the turn out but after all, it was just a study. Right after finishing, I immediately picked it apart, critiquing the areas that I liked and wanted to change. My painting was filled with little scribbles, mostly what I wanted to change.

I worked on the new one, and this time, with a renewed energy and vision. I knew what I needed to avoid doing, what to keep and what to do differently. I took my time and tried to keep it loose and suggestive. When it comes to details though, it's hard to simplify the shapes without losing the overall look. I decided to slowly paint the the smaller designs slowly but not too carefully to keep it suggestive and loose.


Sunday, August 9, 2015


I did it! This next competition took me all the way to West Vancouver. I got lost on the way there and was a bit late. Thank you to Alfonso L. Tejada who advised that I register at the end so I can get started. This challenge took 3 hours and there was no specific theme other than paint anything that catches your eye. The weather was mostly gray skies and thankfully, it only started to drizzle at the end. Thank you Alfonso, Ferry Building Gallery and Opus Art Supplies for all your efforts in organizing this event. The wine and cheese reception after was very different and fantastic!

I tried a different approach this time to use use the white of the paper to describe light. I was uncertain whether this was too much of a subject to paint within the allotted time but time was ticking, so I went alla prima and just prayed that it didn't rain.

The view of the boathouse. There was lots of other details, bits and pieces, rocks and logs scattered on the beach. Quite an intimidating subject to start with I think. 

There was cheese and wine after the event too. This was only available to the artists who registered and entered the competition. Look at the lovely spread! It should've been more than enough to get my appetite kicking since I hadn't had any breakfast that day, however, the adrenaline was still going and hunger and thirst took a back seat.

I had an amazing time. It was a unique way of ending the painting challenge. Thank you to Alfonso, the jurors Ann, Tatiana and Maria, and Opus for making all this possible. 


Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Finally it is finished! This still life turned out to take much longer than I expected as it eventually became a challenge on watercolor painting texture. The crustiness of the bread, the slices of bananas, the reflection of steel, the ceramic boots and mugs and the organic leaves and flower petals. 

Below is the original sketch: 

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