Upon my return, the idea of painting the nostalgic alleys of old Shanghai consumed me. However, I fretted that I might never stumble upon the perfect location for my artwork. To my surprise, my visit to Chengdu Temple led me to discover a treasure trove of quaint old alleys in the vicinity. The only blemish on this canvas was the fact that the utility poles were constructed from cement. I decided to depict them with a subtle curve, resembling the classic wooden telegraph poles I envisioned.
As I set out to capture the essence of these alleys on my canvas, I couldn't help but notice a striking contrast. The haphazard, illegally built structures in the alley appeared scattered across my painting, providing a sense of irregularity and character. In stark juxtaposition, the modern buildings in the background were uniform and, frankly, quite dull, lacking the variety and charm of the old structures.
The interplay of light and perspective played a significant role in transforming the city blocks on my canvas, giving them ever-changing shapes and segmentation. These elements, along with the contrasts I observed, contributed to a visually rich and rhythmic composition.
In March, when the lingering chill still lingers, the surroundings are shrouded in a hazy, dreamlike aura, with distant sounds that appear muffled. It's as if the entire world pauses in this fleeting moment. Every time I find myself in Venice, I'm enveloped in this unique atmosphere, and I can almost touch the tangible weight of history at any given time.
This particular scene unfolds at a convergence of three waterways. The three distinct clusters of buildings in the painting create a profound sense of depth, with the vertical composition accentuating this aspect. The interplay of top light, backlight, and the gentle reflections off the water's surface further accentuates the serene ambiance of the surroundings.
Speaking of the reflections on the water's surface, there's an intriguing effect as the upper and lower portions are exposed, while the middle section appears to hang suspended in the air. To enhance the painting's stability, I deliberately increased the intensity of the reflections on both sides. Additionally, the textured treatment of the cracked water surface alters the reflections and introduces a perceptible sense of spatial depth to the composition.
The hazy weather cast a soft, muted veil over the landscape, toning down the vivid hues. Amidst such conditions, the layers and depths of the scenery become surprisingly clear. When I tackle subjects of this nature, I have a penchant for introducing small pockets of contrasting colors to enhance the overall palette. In this painting, it appears that the expansive cool tones and the limited warm accents work in concert, weaving a harmonious rhythm throughout the piece.
The spectrum of black, white, and gray levels of color gracefully transitions from foreground to background. The floating bridge, positioned slightly below the center of the composition, melds seamlessly with the central ship, lending the entire painting an air of robust stability. This arrangement mitigates any potential sense of top-heaviness and creates a pleasing equilibrium.
Intriguingly, the composition takes on an approximately cross-shaped formation, offering an innovative approach to visual storytelling. The central theme of the painting lies in conveying the artistic essence of misty autumnal colors, an endeavor achieved through the manipulation of form, tone, and other artistic elements.
In early October, as autumn dawns in Ontario, the atmosphere turns cool and moist under the soft sun. I often visit Rice Lake, around 100 kilometers from Toronto, for fishing. Here, the shoreline is a favored spot for gray herons, perched atop weathered trees.
Autumn's touch is visible in the leaves, some of which are beginning to change color. Notably, those close to the water's surface turn a vibrant yellow first, creating a captivating gradient from dark green to sunny yellow. I centered my focus on this striking contrast, where yellow leaves mingle with the graceful gray heron.
The surrounding sky and water colors emphasize the quiet and desolate beauty of autumn at Rice Lake.
The image of this ancient tree-filled forest is actually from a park not far from my home. Winter in Canada accentuates the area's pristine and natural beauty. It's a testament that you can uncover remarkable natural scenes if you look closely. In this case, we didn't have to arrange the elements – they are all inherently natural.
When we create artwork, we often have the freedom to arrange elements as we see fit. However, the shapes and forms in nature are inherently genuine, without any artificial intervention. In this winter scene, the shadows cast by the low-angled sun give rise to a dynamic interplay of lines and contrasts throughout the painting.
The composition is arranged in an unconventional inverted triangle, which, along with the extremely close subject, generates a palpable tension in the image. This layout invites the viewer's gaze into the picture, providing a space for them to immerse themselves in the tenacious vitality of nature thriving in a harsh environment. That, ultimately, is the core message and meaning conveyed by this painting.
The interplay of backlight and toplight in a painting is a result of both the artist's perspective and the characteristics of the light itself. Beyond creating a stark contrast between light and shadow, it also infuses the interior with a rich variety of colors due to the influence of environmental reflections. However, the careful handling of this interplay is crucial to avoid a chaotic outcome.
In the realm of realistic painting, artists like Andrew Wyeth, a modern American realist, excel in using backlight and toplight to convey character and landscape themes. It's both a subject and a challenge for artists who aim for realism. The subject of this painting is a small American bungalow, with the brightest patch of color thoughtfully placed at the center. The linear intersections guide the perspective's vanishing point, which is also situated in the center, drawing the viewer's focus and emphasizing the subject. This particular artwork holds a special place among my favorites.
Many have inquired about my impressions of Zhouzhuang, and my response often revolves around the notion that it has become quite commercialized. It's important to note that this doesn't encapsulate all of Zhouzhuang. In some of its less touristy periphery, the town retains its natural, tranquil essence, evoking a sense of serenity and life intertwined. Here, it's quiet yet brimming with vitality.
I've come to realize that the elements for painting in these untouched corners are as rich as those in the bustling central area. The composition takes on an intriguing K-shape with a deep perspective. The linear flow guides the viewer's gaze, making it easier to focus on the image. To accentuate this further, I placed the purest red at the center of the painting.
To reach New York, follow New York State Interstate 81. This route winds through the scenic Appalachian Mountains and runs parallel to the historic American rural Route 11. Typically, this road is frequented by local farmers, and you'll come across many farm structures, including tall barns along the way. It's advisable to seek permission from the farmer before closely examining, painting, or photographing these structures. In a society where firearm ownership is common in the United States, approaching remote locations without due consideration may lead to misunderstandings.
The farmhouse depicted in this painting is a more traditional example. I positioned it to create a long, horizontal composition, evoking a sense of stability, spaciousness, and tranquility.
The old houses in Anhui, with their predominant colors of gray, white, and black, often evoke the feeling of traditional Chinese ink painting. Using oil paint for these houses allows me to capture their substantial weight and adds depth to the variations in gray tones. This small oil painting employs a linear composition, a strong perspective, and an alluring depth of field.
Within this painting, I aimed to demonstrate a skillful application of techniques and experience. I've always held the belief that composition, the linear aspects of the image, and the arrangement of elements serve as the fundamental building blocks for the overall composition of a painting. This is where attention should be primarily focused, and it's the most crucial phase. Similar to working with large tonal ranges in oil painting, the outcome of the painting, whether good or bad, can be anticipated and predicted.
In contrast to the narrow alleys of small towns in Zhejiang, China, the Venetian alleys are imbued with warmer and richer colors. I've observed that, particularly in the afternoon with lower sunlight angles, the buildings take on intriguing, almost "incomplete" shapes, casting a play of light and shadow. The ambient colors reflected by the surroundings further alter the hues of the backlit scenes, oscillating between warm and cool tones.
The influence of the afternoon's warm light creates a captivating interplay within these images, resulting in a tapestry of contrasts and conflicts, as well as moments of harmony and balance. Through these variations, the aim is to capture a sense of beauty that's simultaneously ever-changing, orderly, and harmonious.
Oak trees are a common sight in Canada, known for their hard and breathable texture and the exquisite beauty of their wood grain. They find application in various aspects of Canadian life, from flooring and furniture to wine barrels. These medium-sized oaks sport vast, spreading crowns and robust, short trunks. In the autumn, their leaves take on captivating shades of orange-red, a spectacle I often seek out to behold.
The journey to northern Ontario for "maple viewing" has become a popular tourist activity, as being amidst the orange-red woods imparts a unique sensation. It's as if the whole world beckons to be drenched in hues of red. In my painting, I've employed a full composition and a palette rich in saturated tones, primarily dominated by the leaves. This approach is designed to convey the profound impact of nature's message and the emotion it stirs within.
In 2012, he won the Gold Medal Award at the 21st National Exhibition of the American Oil Painters Association.
"Tide" 30X40 inches. This oil painting is stunning. It has huge dramatic and emotional mood. The boat's extreme perspective creates a wonderful depth to the scene, as one might see in a close-up photograph. Furthermore, the intersecting converging diagonals are created by the shadows of the boats and the grey-green stains on the beach. The audience faces the boat. Feeling such a strong contrast, the eye is immediately drawn directly back to the center of the picture - where the center of interest in the picture is, as it is here - can often be a negative and halting design. However, in this case, the painter uses the perspective line of the ship to allow the audience's line of sight to continue to enter a sense of distance - deep into the coming stormy sky. In many ways this painting reminds me of some of Wyeth's work (Andrew and Jamie), who often used strong, simple structures that broke the "rules".
----Michael Chesley Johnson (American art critic)
Despite traversing the 300 bridges of Venice, each experience feels unique. The distinctiveness of every bridge emerges from its location and the view it affords. When I gazed at this particular bridge from another one, I realized that it encapsulates the essence of Venice — with its bridges, boats, and winding alleys all converging.
The color palette is steeped in rich brown and bronze tones, creating a cohesive atmosphere. The layout, devoid of the sky, makes the vibrant color blocks pop. The elongated perspective imparts a profound sense of tranquility to the space.
To accentuate the texture of the walls, I've employed an extensive use of a palette knife to shape them. This technique enhances the tactile and visual depth of the artwork.
I've always harbored the desire to paint a portrait of Zhou Yu in my distinct style. During my stay there in April, the dawn enveloped the surroundings in a refreshing and tranquil ambiance. In those moments, it felt as if time itself had slowed down. Zhou Yu, in its unadorned simplicity, appeared as a paradise untainted by extravagance. The iconic red lanterns were notably absent, making the slight hints of early spring green appear all the more precious in the painting.
Opting for backlighting, I captured the broad perspective, guiding viewers into this enchanting realm. This approach allows for ample exploration of the composition's large and expansive form, reminiscent of the Chinese character "天." By employing a carefully chosen color palette, I sought to convey the rhythm inherent in reality, with a focus on depth, weight, and a palpable sense of urgency. This technique further underscores the conveyance of artistic expression and sentiment.
Oia, situated at the northernmost tip of Santorini, stands almost 100 meters above sea level. It is the quintessential representation of the classic Greek blue and white island aesthetic, and Oia itself is the epitome of Santorini's charm. I've had the privilege of visiting this beautiful place four times, once even staying in a cliffside hotel for half a month. The island's pristine, humid air and the endless blue expanse of the Aegean Sea have etched indelible memories in my mind.
Every day, hordes of visitors gather to witness the mesmerizing sunset in Oia, with many of them being Chinese tourists. The architecture on the island is impeccably proportioned, offering a wealth of opportunities for artists to discover and develop their compositions. During my visits, I explored the area extensively, renting motorcycles and cars to sketch and gather materials. It was amidst these stunning surroundings that I found the theme for my painting, "Tide," which has since become a central focus of my artistic work.
In my landscape paintings, human presence is a rare sight. Perhaps, it's my way of emphasizing the natural world in its purest form, allowing us to witness its unadulterated simplicity. This portrayal is one of quietude, serenity, devoid of desires. Yet, in this painting, we can see the harmonious connection between humanity and nature. I believe that aligning with nature and coexisting with it is the ultimate goal of mankind. To "violate the laws of nature" means to avoid imposing short-sighted, destructive behaviors upon it, as this leads to a breakdown in the delicate balance between humanity and nature, with the losses far outweighing the gains. It is also unethical to excessively exploit nature.
Venice stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of people and nature. It remains well-preserved, and returning to it after many years reveals that it has changed little. The lifestyle and environment in Venice are simple and naturally aligned, and the urge to create art spontaneously arises from the profound connection between humanity and nature found in this unique place.
Peggy's Cove, is a renowned destination located on the eastern coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It boasts a dramatically rugged coastline and is a charming fishing village inhabited by fewer than a hundred people who make their living by lobster fishing. This place has long been hailed as "a paradise for photography lovers from around the world," and its magnetic appeal beckoned me to visit and experience its enchantment firsthand.
In October 2010, I embarked on a journey that covered 1,800 kilometers, driving from Toronto to reach Peggy's Cove. The striking local ice age boulder formations and the vibrant red ground vegetation left me in awe. The essence of this painting centers around boats and a wooden pier, emblematic of a distinctive corner of this fishing village. It encapsulates a tranquil, serene, and unpretentious scene, allowing the viewer to immerse themselves in a world that competes with nothing else.
In several of my paintings, you'll find people, but their presence is always from the back. These figures, though facing away, play a role in "guiding" the audience through specific scenes. The moment depicted in this painting is transitory, and I took some reference photos on-site. I had the idea and composition in mind beforehand, allowing me to capture the essence of the "first creation" through my photos. When working in the studio, I continued to reference these photos to recreate the atmosphere of that moment.
Within the overall tone defined by strong, warm light, I painted the character's clothing with cool, shadowed tones beneath the warmth. This choice creates a subtle harmony with the blue sky's reflection in the lower right corner. I aimed to convey a sense of calmness coupled with a hint of motion in the character, and I adjusted the posture accordingly. This balance makes the figure appear steady yet poised to move forward, capturing the essence of the present moment.
Venice isn't a place where you can simply arrive, paint, and leave – it requires an extended stay to truly immerse oneself in the city's character and atmosphere. To capture its essence, I approached it from the perspective of a local resident rather than a fleeting tourist. Of course, others may have different impressions, but Venice, to me, is a place of tranquility rather than noise, simplicity over ostentation. This essence is what I sought to portray.
This painting depicts a residential area far from the bustling city center. In the warm October afternoon sunlight, when the distant church bells resonate, it forms a harmonious and natural moment. It adheres to a typical linear composition, with a strong sense of perspective. I find the contrast between the light-receiving and back-lit areas to be fascinating. Accurate color adjustments in these two areas are crucial to conveying the intended artistic sentiment, so I approached them with great care.
This painting is a representation of the bustling dynamics at a fishing pier in Hong Kong. It aims to capture the noisy, vibrant atmosphere of the scene, and I've found that looking upward enhances this feeling. The towering bows of the fishing boats and the sleek posture of the small craft combine to infuse the image with a sense of motion. The presence of moist clouds and mist in the background further intensifies this lively ambiance.
The focal point of the painting centers on the black and white fishing wheels, drawing attention to the theme. The bright white structure in the center, which serves as the primary building on the fishing boat, also commands the viewer's gaze. This element represents the viewpoint's central focus, and I invested a significant amount of time in perfecting the details in this area. In the realm of oil painting, there's rarely a "magical touch"; instead, it's the result of meticulous arrangement and dedicated effort.