Thursday, May 31, 2012

Getting my (artistic) Groove Back: Part 2 - Oil Painting

As I mentioned in my last post, I've decided to seriously dive back into art - after a very long hiatus.

I found out that my friend, Dean, who I've known is a very talented painter, also offers lessons! He teaches oil paint, which I started with in 1994/95, but haven't used since. I've been thinking it would be good to take classes in oil again so that I could re-learn some of the techniques and basics of oil. It's so much different than acrylic.

Our first session was yesterday (Thursday). (I'm post-dating this blog post to reflect that date.) The session was fantastic! I've already begun to learn new things that I think will be very beneficial for me both in working with oil paints, as well as other mediums.

I've had 3 painting teachers during my years at art school. My first (oil painting) was very easy-going, and the class was mixed-levels. The instructor kind of just threw in the new students, and had us learn along the way. I remember learning some oil techniques, but it was mostly a learn-as-you-go method.

My second teacher was for acrylic paint. He taught a lot of acrylic techniques (ie: texture/hard edge/masking, etc.,) which was great, and I've continue to apply what I learned in that class to my acrylic painting.

My third instructor was for a mixed-media/collage class. Again, I learned different experimental techniques, many of which I still use.

So, what was amazing to me (and to Dean) was that I don't recall having any instruction that was similar to what he taught me! Dean started me out with what seems to me to be very basic painting techniques involving color (which has always been an issue for me). We met for almost 3 hours yesterday, and I really enjoyed it, and felt like I've already learned a lot!

By Dean's suggestion, I brought one of my very old Raggedy Anns with me to use as a still life model. I brought my Raggedy Ann from the early 1920s. He suggested it would be a great subject matter, and would help in the sense that I have a personal attachment to it. That, and she's just so enchanting. :)

So, my Raggedy Ann had a fun field trip, and will be going back at least another week, maybe more. It depends on how long it takes me to finish this painting.

As I mentioned before, I plan to post my progress on my blog to help keep me accountable. :)

Here's the beginning steps of my new oil painting from week 1!

week 1

My 1920s Volland Raggedy Ann modeling by the canvas

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Getting my (artistic) Groove Back: Part 1 - Figure Drawing

I didn't announce this publicly, but my New Year's Resolution for 2012 was to get back into art. I really missed painting and drawing, but I could never quite find the time or the inspiration to do much about it. I think I've only worked on 2 or 3 paintings over the last 10 years, and I've only drawn (at a figure drawing session) twice. Sad.

So, I vowed to do more in 2012.

I got off to a slow start - I played around with some small canvasses, affixing Gingko leaves with acrylic paint and medium. (I'll post photos of those later - they are pretty neat) but that was more collage, or experimenting, versus painting.

I also participated in the Trans Pacific Art Show in January, which was wonderful. I used some of my old art, but it really did help me get more into the spirit of creating art again.

Anyhow, last week, I had a really good talk with Dick, and we discussed what it is I need to do to really get back into art, which I keep saying would make me very happy.

So, I made two decisions: I recently found out (that very day!) that a friend of mine, who I've known is a very talented painter, also offers lessons. When Dick and I had our conversation, we both thought it would be a a GREAT opportunity for me to get back into painting.

After that, I did a little research, and found a couple of studios that offered 3-hour drop-infigure drawing sessions. The costs are quite reasonable, considering the space, and the model, and the non-instructional sessions are offered two weeknights each week.

I decided to first check out the studio that was closest to home - probably about a mile away. I've passed by the location several times in the past, and always thought like it looked like a good space.

Anyhow, I went to my first session Wednesday night! (i'm post-dating this blog post to be dated for that same day)

I think my first session went very well. As I said, this one had no instruction. I figured that would be best for me for the first few times anyway to get my bearings, see how rusty I am, and to meet the instructor.

The session itself was great. There were about a dozen people there (most seemed to be regulars) and the model was fantastic. We did sets of 1, 3, 7, 10 and 20 minute poses. Before the 20-minute poses, we took a long break, went into the kitchen of the building (the instructor lives in this house, in which the studio is one room) and were offered tea and fresh baked goods! (Seriously - my kind of place!)

I promised a few friends on Facebook that I would show my art as I start and (hopefully) progress - the good, the bad, and the ugly. :)

I felt pretty good about my first time back at figure drawing in more than 10 years (and 18 years since my last class). I'm certainly rusty, but I don't think I totally suck. At least, I think you can get a sense of what the model was doing. :)

I'll let you be the judge. (be kind, please)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A visit with Toby Cat and Grandma

Yesterday I went down to Milpitas to spend the day with my Grandma. My parents are away for a few days, so Grandma and I went to their house to spend some time visiting with Mr. Toby Cat. :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


This cracks me up!

I was washing my hands in our bathroom this morning, and laughed when I saw the reflection of Raggedy Ann (or Andy!) smiling back at me from the faucet. :)

It is the reflection from the shirt I am wearing. Depending on the angle, I could see Ann or Andy's face.

I'm really happy that I was able to capture a picture of it. Seriously funny!

Monday, May 21, 2012

A visit from Jason!

Today, I had a fabulous visit with my dear friend, Jason! Jason was in town for the weekend for his (now annual?) participation in the Bay to Breakers! We had a wonderful lunch together at the Cliff House (which included delicious Bloody Marys and yummy pop-overs) and a nice, long visit.

Great seeing you, Jason!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

artMRKT SF 2012

Just as I had last year, I worked at the artMRKT SF again this year, at the booth for Adler & Co.

It was a great success again, and I believe the crowds were much larger than last year. Thursday night's VIP reception/fund raiser was swamped. I had the chance to meet a lot of interesting people, and also sold several pieces of art. A great experience all-around!

Thanks to all who came out to visit!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Home is where the happy kitten is. :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Italy: The last, last post!

One last post - for real this time! ;)

We woke up super early (3:30am) to catch a taxi to the Marco Polo Airport. Now, in Venice, you don't take just any taxi - all the taxis are speed boats!

The water taxi picked us up from our hotel at 4:00am. The driver loaded our luggage, and we climbed down into the boat.

It was Super-Cool! I felt so 007 Spy-Thriller Cool! We drove through the canals of Venice out towards the airport. Although it was still dark out, the City is still well lit. It was such a cool way to travel to the airport!

I'm not sure if I'll ever have a reason to take a speed boat to an airport again, but if you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend it! :)

Italy: Day 12 - the last meal and the last post from Italy

I'm going to make a very bold statement: I have found my personal favorite Italian Restaurant in the WORLD.

Big statement, I know.

You may recall my post from our first night in Venice about the restaurant with the amazing pasta, and the hand-drawn dessert menu.

The restaurant is Osteria Oliva Nera (The Black Olive) and we went back tonight to cap off our Italian Vacation.

It was just as amazing the second time around. The owner, Isabella, and her husband (whose name I'm ashamed I don't know!) are so lovely and warm, and full of personality. The food is exquisite, but their hospitality made it even more memorable.

Tonight, I had the house special stuffed zucchini and (again) the black ink fettuccine with red shrimp. Soooo good.

Topped it off again with homemade tiramisu and homemade lemoncelo. What could be a finer way to spend our last evening in Italy.

Again, Isabella sent us away with a gift. This time it was a bottle if 40-year-old balsamic vinaigrette.

Next time you're in Venice, plan to stop by Osteria Oliva Nera. I know we'll be back! :)

Italy: Day 12- Giardini della Biennale & the Arsonale

Dick and I had noted earlier that we hadn't seen many green spaces in any of three Italian cities that we've visited. Today, we took the vaporetto to the Sant Elena station which brought us right to the Giardini della Biennale. It was nice to be amongst the trees and away from the hustle and bustle. It was also quiet. :)

We weren't very far from our hotel, but we decided to do a little more exploring before heading back. We came across the Arsenale, which was Venice's shipyards. In its day, with its innovative assembly line, the Arsenale could construct a galley in a matter of hours.

Italy: Day 12 - Murano

This afternoon, we strolled towards the Northern part of Venice then took a vaporetto to the island of Murano. Long synonymous with glassmaking, Murano developed blowing and fusion techniques in the 1500s. We skipped the Glass Museum (I had been 16 years ago, and Dick wasn't interested) and opted instead to visit smaller studios and shops. We watched part of a great demonstration in a small studio, and found a great showcase of a local designer.

We really enjoyed to long, scenic vaporetto ride back to the south end of Venice. We departed at the Sant Elena stop, and strolled through the park on our way back towards our hotel.

Italy: Day 12 - Doge's Palace

We started our day touring the Doge's Palace, which was the official residence of the 120 doges who ruled Venice from 697 to 1797. There were no photos allows inside, but I took several of the exterior. The fourth photo shows the Bridge of Sighs. It is the 17th Century Baroque structure that crosses to the palace prisons. It would reputedly caused the condemned to "sigh" at their last glimpse of the sky and sea.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Italy: Day 11 - View from the top of Basilica San Marco

We took a tour through St, Mark's Basilica this afternoon. It was gorgeous inside, especially all of the mosaics. Unfortunately again, no photos were allowed.

However, we decided to do the Basilica Museum as well (which I highly recommend!) which also gives you access to the balcony in front of the Basilica, and offers fantastic views of the Piazza San Marco.

More photos from today's walk around Venice

It was a gorgeous sunny day today, so we took several photos. Here are a few nice ones. :) The one at the bottom shows the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Palazzo as seen from the Grand Canal.

In the Courtyard of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection: The Wish Tree and The Final Resting Place

One of the many things that I loved about the Peggy Guggenheim Collection was the beautiful courtyard.

My favorite art installation outside was done by Yoko Ono in 2003 called "The Wish Tree Venice." It was a potted olive tree along with a jar of blank sheets of paper that visitors were encouraged to write their wishes on, then put them on the tree branches. Of course, it reminded me of The Wishing Tree that I had found on our street in SF in December. :)

Peggy Guggenheim's ashes are buried in the courtyard, alongside 14 dogs that she owned during her time in Venice! She had a plaque up of each of the Dog's names, as well as the years that they lived (or perhaps just lived with her, as many of the earlier names only had 2-3 years listed).