Binge Painting

Binge Painting

Google definition of “binge?”
A short period devoted to indulging in an activity to excess.
Sound about right.
I just came off five days of binge painting.
Not sure if I want to do that again…
But there is really something in pushing myself to the limit.
Setting a painting or drawing or making goal,
and then going balls out to meet it.
I will always have so much more to learn,
but I think I just took two giant steps forward in my artist quest.

“K-Pop” (Oil on 16×20 inch canvas)

I was inspired to paint this series after I stumbled across the work of artist, KwongHo Shin.
If you just clicked that link,
You saw that these paintings look nothing like his, yes?

That’s a good thing.
To start with a piece I admire.
But then to experiment and play and create something that is mine.

“Hot Dude” (Oil on 16×20 inch canvas)

I’d originally intended to abstract out all facial features.
But  because my kids, I chose not too.
How’s that, you ask?

Since we moved to North Carolina,
my boys have been experiencing some identity crisis.
To put it plainly,
it’s not not easy being Asian here.
We are so obviously in the minority.
Our family joke-but-not-a-joke is to report to each other when we have yet again been asked
“No, where are you REALLY from?”

It just about broke my heart when one of my boys said Asians aren’t as good looking…
Compared to whom?
By whose standards?
Or have you considered most PEOPLE aren’t good looking.
And there’s too small of a pool of Asians here to conclude anything at all….

By the way, kiddo –
Oh YES Asians are good looking.
And you are going to grow up to be one handsome dude.
(and that’s for real & not just because I’m your mom)

So I’ve been stewing over this conundrum.
When it occurred to me that maybe… just maybe…
I had the power to change things up a bit.

I started sketching faces.
When my boys checked in on me,
They commented that the sketches looked Asain.
That’s because they ARE Asian, guys.
I searched up all these Asian head shots.
Look at this guy – he’s handsome, huh?
Don’t you think he looks like Uncle Andy?
What about her?
She’s cute, huh?
Kind of like Auntie Patty?
Look boys.

Did I tell you more than you wanted to know about these faces?
Thanks for listening.

“Accidentally Pocahontas” (Oil on 16×20 inch canvas)

Once the boys saw what I was up to,
they got into the spirit of things & helped me name each person as I finished painting him or her.

Hot Dude.
Accidentally Pocahontas.
Sensitive Guy.
Strangely Familiar.

“Sensitive Guy” (Oil on 16×20 inch canvas)

Now here are are.
At the end of a five day painting binge.

I’m feeling slightly disoriented.
A little let down.
Probably a natural response after full immersion into a project.

I’ve got a a whole list “to do” and “to try” on both the art and the craft sides.
So I’ll be hanging these paintings this weekend.
And moving onto the next project.

But I’m feeling not quite done with this…
Thinking to revisit the concept of Asian Abstract-ish Portraits again later.

“Strangely Familiar” (Oil on 16×20 inch canvas)


Inspired by KwongHo Shin

Inspired by KwongHo Shin


This latest painting project is inspired by South Korean Artist, KwongHo Shin.

My nightly going-to-bed ritual ends with browsing Pinterest for 10 minutes.
Sometimes it only takes 5 minutes,
then my head starts to nod and I drift right off to sleep.
I think that’s opposite of what screen time does to most people… yes?

Anyway, one evening I stumbled across this very cool image.
A portrait.
Plain background.
Head and shoulders outlined in charcoal.
“Face” completely abstract.
I was smitten.
And inspired to try something similar.

Which is what I’m working on today.
Five headshots.
Based on photos I searched up (on Pinterest, of course).
I started with a loose charcoal sketch.
Filled in the background with one saturated color.
Outlined each person in black oil paint.
Filled in hair and clothes with black as well.
For the record,
I loved the idea that KwongHo Shin used both charcoal and paints.
  Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me.

Just as soon as I hit “publish,”
I’m heading back up to my studio to work on the abstract portion of this series.

Aiming to complete these in the next day.
Hoping they are dry enough by Saturday so I can haul them up to the Charlotte Art League.
They will be part of my last installation there.
October 28, 2017 through December, 2017



A Glorious Mess

A Glorious Mess

I’ve been gallivanting around NYC the last few days.
I think I will never stop missing that crazy city.
My consolation prize is the occasional field trip back.
Besides visiting friends, eating at my favorite restaurants and walking about,
I had one “must do” in mind.
A stop at my favorite art store to pick up some oil pigment sticks.

R&F Pigment Sticks

A friend recently turned me onto these.
Top artist grade oil paints in giant crayon form.
Only messier.
Way, way messier.
And with a steep price to boot.

But so worth it.
The colors glide on like butter.
I channeled my inner-preschooler and “colored” with a complete sense of abandonment.

If you’re interested in trying this out,
I recommend wearing an apron and vinyl gloves.
And working in a space you can wipe off.
For all my precautions, I still ended up with oil smears on table surfaces and on my clothes.

I worked on cradled gessobord.
But I’m also considering painting on long wood boards.
Of course, I’d need to first prep the wood by laying in gesso and sanding.

I’m sure there are all sorts of techniques and tutorials.
But to start, I just wanted to play.
Overall, I’m pleased with my results.
Two things I need to be more careful with are
1.  Not letting my colors get muddy
2.  Trying to avoid littering the surface with chunks of pigment debris.

To keep the colors clean, I should allow for drying time if I’m laying in colors on top of each other.
Unless, of course, I’m blending colors.
I think I can lesson the debris by not pressing as hard when drawing with the sticks.

“Goldfish” (Oil Pigment Sticks on 4 10×10 inch gessobords)

I’ve always been obsessively neat.
Everything lined up just so.
As kids, my brother used to torture me but moving all the objects in my room just a little bit off angle.
But when it comes to art,
I think it’s more than ok to create a glorious mess. 

Alcohol Ink Bonanza

Alcohol Ink Bonanza

I’m changing my art up in the Charlotte Art League one last time before we part ways.
  My next theme will be “Experiments in Abstract.”
  The plan is use different mediums to fill my studio with abstract works.
First medium up:  Alcohol inks.

I’ve played with alcohol inks twice before.
Both times, the inks belonged to other artists.
Much as I wanted to go balls out with the inks,
I refrained and used their supplies sparingly.

Not so this weekend.
I needed to ink at least twelve 8.5×12 inch sheets of yupo paper for my upcoming installation.
I bought myself a dozen or so bottles of alcohol inks.
Such a lovely feeling to have all those bottles of color to play with.

If you’re interested in trying alcohol inks,
You need to know is that these inks are MESSY and they STAIN.
I strongly suggest you set up your work station in a room with more tile than wood.
The inks can be mostly cleaned off of non-porous surfaces (tile, glass, foil) using rubbing alcohol,
but they still might leave a light stain.
They’ll soak right into anything else.
So for crying out loud, don’t play with these in a space you really care about.
Wear an apron or smock.
Take off your jewelry.
And if ink stained fingers bother you, then be sure to wear gloves.
(FYI – you can wash the ink off your hands with the rubbing alcohol)

My supply list included:
Jacquard Pinata alcohol inks
Heavy yupo paper
91% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
Small spritzer
Drawing board
Hair dryer
Painter’s tape
Paper towels
1 Straw
Vinyl gloves

As I mentioned earlier, these inks are crazy messy.
I wanted the option to move my yupo paper around as I worked,
But I didn’t want to touch the ink filled paper.

I taped sheets of foil over my drawing board.
Then secured yupo paper lightly to foil with one piece of tape on the back of the paper.
I had plenty of margin around the paper to hold the board.
If  the ink dripped off the paper, I could simply spritz the foil with alcohol ink and wipe the surface clean.

I think the best way to start with alcohol inks is just to play with it.
Watch what happens when you drop a color down.
See how it spreads?
Notice different colors behave different ways?
What happens if you use the straw to blow on the wet ink?
Try mixing colors.
What happens if you blot the ink with a bit of paper towel?
How about if you blot it with a scrunched up plastic bag?

Oh!  About that yupo paper…
The reason why we use it is because it’s synthetic &  water proof.
You can’t use regular paper or card stock for alcohol ink.

You can get creative & try the inks on all sorts of nonporous objects.

Alcohol inks won’t wash off with water.
(So I’ve been told, though I haven’t tested this)
But they do smear and wipe off on contact with alcohol.
They will also fade over time if exposed to a lot of sun.

It’s a good idea to seal finished works.
I’m afraid I can’t recommend a brand yet since
I’m still researching best products to use,

During my alcohol inking bonanza this weekend,
I actually completed 14 abstract pieces on yupo paper (8.5 inches by 11 inches).
I had to toss one of them when my attempt at “erasing” resulted in a grey soggy mess.
But you’re seeing the other thirteen pieces.

You are seeing my works in the order I made them.

My initial attempts yielded thick glossy results.
For the most part, I dripped the ink on drop by drop, one on top of the other.
I liked the look of concentric circles.
I was visualizing geodes and peacock feathers.

Next, I experimented with trying to lay in a thin wash of color.
I poured poured rubbing alcohol straight onto the yupo.
Dripped ink on.
Hit everything with the hair dryer.
It was a little crazy.
Or maybe, I got a little crazy breathing in the 91% isopropyl fumes.

In the end, I decided the hair dryer wasn’t necessary.
All I had to do to achieve the thin, marbled wash was tilt my board in gentle circles to swirl the alcohol and ink around.

If the ink dried too quickly,
I used my alcohol spritzer to wet everything again.
Spritzing the ink gave it a mottled look.
Which ended up being a look I really liked.

I had a lot of fun with these inks this weekend.
As tempted as I am to keep going with these,
It’s time to move on to the next medium.
Pigment Sticks are up next.
Hope to have good results to share with you soon.




Big Red Mess

Big Red Mess

My studio this week has been one big red mess.
There are red paint smudges everywhere.
All over both my easels.
On the couch.
Across the table.
In my hair.
On my cheeks.
Embedded in the metal links of my watch.
Who knew red oil paints were so much trouble?

“Mini Red 1” (Oil on 8×8 inch canvas)

I’ve been painting with oil just over one year.
And sure, I’ve used the reds before.
But for the most part, I’ve been in the mood for other color combinations.

Then, I came across this picture of a big gorgeous abstract in reds.
I was absolutely smitten by it.
I haven’t worked my way up to giant canvases yet.
But I figured I could certainly experiment with abstracts in red.

“Mini Red 2” (Oil on 8×8 inch canvas)

I started with two 8 inch by 8 inch gallery wrapped canvases.
A nice, manageable size.
With my favorite palette knife in hand,
“Mini Red 1” and “Mini Red 2”
flowed out almost effortlessly.

That’s when I got a cocky.
I decided to paint a BIGGER pair of reds.
I pulled out my 18 inch by 24 inch canvases and thought,
“This is going to be easy…”
Joke was on me.

Scraped and Scraped Again. Red works in Progress.

Some random comments & observations from my week of painting red:
Working on bigger canvases is harder than working on smaller canvases.
Flaws and mistakes are easier to spot on a big canvas.
It’s trickier to control the palette knife over a longer length of canvas.
Each time I applied a larger stroke of paint across that big canvas,
It was almost a given that my hand would slip and hit the wet paint.
Sometimes I noticed and wiped it off immediately.
Other times I didn’t…
Hence the little smears of red paint everywhere.

By the way,
What the hec is up with drying time for red oil paints?
It has been humid the last week.
But still!
I wasn’t expecting the paintings to stay as wet as if I’d just applied the paint.

If the paint is too wet.
Applying another color over it can easily turn into a murky puddle.
And then its either keep the murky mess or scrape the paint off and try again.

I scraped A LOT this week.
In fact, I scraped so much paint off,
I filled two smaller canvases with the scraped off stuff.
The silver lining is that I have two interesting under paintings that might “grow up” to be something someday…

“Red 1” (Oil on 18×24 inch canvas)

Before I leave you & head back to my messy easel,
Here’s what’s finished:
“Mini Red 1”
“Mini Red 2”
“Red 1”
Perhaps I should’ve come up with more creative titles.
But this works for me since it makes it easier for me to keep track of my paintings.
I still need to complete “Red 2.”
And then it’s onto the next series I’ve got brewing in my head.