Sunday, January 6, 2019

Cymbidium --- in process

Hmmm, I think it's time to get an easel. This 11"x14" painting is propped up against my computer, where I'm painting Cymbidium flowers that were growing in my garden. My favorite are these green orchids and my friends know it because that's what I get for Birthdays and Christmases! Someday, my garden will be filled with these!

After painting mostly 5"x7", this canvas is HUGE! This is the largest canvas I have ever painted on and is my attempt to prepare myself for the 18"x24" commission I am going to work on soon. As you can tell from my #3 sable brush that I'm holding here, I haven't grown to larger brushes yet. It's amazing what you can do with such a tiny brush! I will no doubt start using my larger brushes for future paintings. It is a process after all.

I was able to pull out my favorite colors ... Alizarin crimson, Quinacridone red, Cadmium yellow pale, Sap green, Phthalo green (a new color to hit my palette ... which I now love), French ultramarine, Cobalt blue, Burnt Sienna, Burnt umber, Payne's Gray (and yes, a little of that Mars black), and Titanium white. I can't believe the spectrum of colors I can make with this palette and while this painting is mostly green, I look forward to placing vibrant newly created colors throughout the painting. Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Pet commission - "Lula"

Lula, oil on cotton canvas, 6"x6" (Not for sale)

This pet commission of Lula, a beautiful Boston Terrier, was ready for the holidays! :D This was a fun one to paint because Lula's pose perfectly illustrates her personality, which is the basis of any good portrait. This one is a small portrait so I used my #3 Rosemary and Co. red sable bright brush (I typically will use only one brush for the entire painting, especially these small ones). As with all of my oil paintings, I used mostly Winsor and Newton Artist's Oil Colour and some Gamblin and Daniel Smith oils. I've been trying my hand using Galkyd and was pleasantly surprised to find how quickly the paints dried. I'm still worried about the application of the fat over lean principles with this new medium but I guess it will take quite a bit of trial and error to figure it out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cool Kīlauea morning

oil on canvas, 8"x10" (SOLD)

This one is hot of the easel! It's still drying and I hope to have it available at this weekend's Volcano Village Artist Hui Studio Tour and Art Sale, starting Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, from 10 am - 4 pm and running until Sunday. Stop by Emily Herb's studio on Kenoelehua and visit with Emily, Charlotte Forbes Perry, and me! Emily will have her beautiful native plant and animal-inspired ceramics and guest artist Charlotte will have her ceramic native species trivets, ceramic ornaments, stained glass, and surprise ceramic pieces. I'll have original artwork (as seen on this blog), giclee prints, and notecards! We are all inspired by the plants and animals that surround us in the Village and hope to share with you our love of them through our artwork. 

This is one of my favorite views of the Thurston Lava Tube area, where one can look down into a caved in portion of a lava tube, now filled with myriad native trees and ferns and noisy with the calls of native birds flying about. 

Please excuse the glare ... the paint is still drying on this one!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

`A`ali`i (Dodonaea viscosa)

`A`ali`i, oil on canvas, 7"x5" (SOLD)

"Daud-vis" ... or Dodvis, is the field code for Dodonaea viscosa (`a`ali`i), the first three letters of the genus and first three letters for the species. Botanists tend to speak in code because who has time to pronounce each syllable of a scientific name anyway?! For example, "Met-paul" for Metpol or Metrosideros polymorpha (`ōhi`a) ... "Sib-glah" for Cibgla or Cibotium glaucum (hapu`u), etc. So, if we ever meet and I happen to speak plant gibberish to you, remind yourself that you're talking to a botanist who spends too much time with plants. :)

This `a`ali`i is a small shrub that grows in the area I live. The fruit, painted here, are winged papery fruit with tiny black seeds inside.  They are pretty iconic and you can see them readily when you visit Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

This closeup of a branch was fun to paint because sunlight could be seen back-lighting the fruit so I was able to use a variety of saturated colors .... alizarin red, cadmium red deep, cadmium orange, cadmium yellow pale to capture the light. The shadows was achieved mixing the colors with its complement, for example, I mixed the reds with sap green or ultramarine blue to achieve a more rich shadow. The highlights were achieved using titanium white with a variety colors. While it looks like I might have used pure white, it was never the case in this painting.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

`Apapane is home.

oil on canvas, 12"x6" (SOLD)

I had been walking through the kipuka along the east-facing slopes of Mauna Loa a couple weeks ago and was struck by the lushness of the flora. We were literally enveloped by hāpu`u (tree ferns, Cibotium glaucum) and other endemic ferns. `Apapane, `i`iwi, `amakihi, and `oma`o were calling all around us. I needed that time to be immersed in nature and I couldn't help but grin from ear to ear because it is exactly where I needed to be. It is where my heart will always be and I feel the most at home in it. It was hard to leave that day but I wanted to paint something to remind me of that very special place.

The challenge in painting this scene was deciding where the focal point would be and by using hue, value, chroma, and sharpness, the journey your eyes would take through the painting. I don't know if I'm very successful in this painting but I did try. If you squint, you can see what I mean. It's hard not to notice the `apapane, which has the highest chroma (saturation) and then the highlights on the fern fronds are meant to draw you from the left to the right of the painting, down to the bottom right, where you end in a deep shadow, where it's a bit suspenseful because there's only a hint of what's under those fronds. Or maybe it doesn't matter. I hope you enjoy it anyway!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Wake uuuuup!

Rooster, oil on canvas, 12"x12"

This is an ode to the roosters that have moved in down the street. I don't mind their crowing so much but it's probably because they aren't next door. Huge wattles, yes? And that comb sits on his head like a crown! This is the kind of rooster that is the king of his neighborhood!

I chose complementary colors for this one. It's a fairly large painting (the largest size that I've done so far) but I was able to do most of it in one sitting. Most people may not notice that I tend to use the alla prima or wet-on-wet method, which presents challenges when I pile the paint on. If I fuss with it too much, the colors get muddied and I just create a puddled mess. In this case, I embraced it and used bold strokes and laid down the colors fairly quickly, then finished it with details by pushing the paint about. I've noticed that most people that use the alla prima method paint fairly painterly. In my case, I try to infuse as much detail by moving the paint about with my brush, leaving the brightest highlights for last in which I place on top of the wet paint with a very small "0" brush. Most of my small paintings take between 4 and 8 hours. I came back to it a couple days later to lighten up the feathers of the rooster and decided to leave the black feathers unsaturated (i.e. grayish), which I think gives is a more realistic look, as if they were "feathered in" with the white ones.

`Ōhelo in the rain

`Ōhelo, oil on canvas, 10"x8" (SOLD)

`Ōhelo or Vaccinium reticulatum is probably my favorite Hawaiian plant. The fruit are usually tart, sometimes sweet and comes in a variety of colors from yellow, orange, red, to purple. This species is a cousin of blueberries and like blueberries are collected for pies and jam. But, in Hawai`i, we first ask for permission to pick and in reverence, offer the fruit to Pele, the Goddess of Fire, before picking some for ourselves. And, we always leave lots of fruit on the bushes for nene (Hawaiian geese) and other native birds.

I've been choosing to paint on larger canvases and this one is 10"x8", which means changing my painting style to larger brushes, larger brushstrokes, and getting used to a larger drying time. It has also meant making more conscious decisions on areas to keep sharp and distinct and areas to push back into the distance. It is easier to fudge that with smaller pieces. Painting larger also has meant needing to step back from the painting from time to time to to take in the whole painting where I just held it at arm's length when painting much smaller pieces. It's a learning process, isn't it? Maybe my next step will be to purchase an easel so I can paint even larger!

My favorite part of this piece, besides painting the luscious fruit, was adding the red and green leaves. I used a myriad of colors for this piece, sometimes leaning toward the cool cerulean blue and sometimes toward the warmer cadmium red. I love painting with complementary colors!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Volcano Village Artists Hui Studio Tour and Sale 2018

2018 Event

The Hui members and their guest artists cordially invite everyone to the 32nd annual celebration, Thanksgiving weekend, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, November 23, 24 & 25th.


Every November on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the Thanksgiving weekend, Hui members open their doors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the annual art studio tour and sale. Visitors are welcome to meet the artists and to view the elegantly crafted artworks as well as moderately priced items.

With Volcano Village being a nexus for fine art and crafts, art patrons and holiday shoppers are drawn to the area for this special event. Maps to the studios and exhibit locations are available at businesses and galleries in Volcano Village or may be downloaded from the web site (click here)

Mooooooving on

Cow, oil on canvas, 7"x5"

Saturday, October 27, 2018

`Io - Hawaiian Hawk

`Io (Hawaiian Hawk), oil on canvas, 6"x8"

Friday, October 26, 2018


Tangerines, Oil on canvas, 8"x8" (SOLD)

Interested in buying this painting? It will be available at the Volcano Village Art Studio Tour and Sale in Volcano Village, Hawaii starting November 23 through November 25, 2018! I'll be a guest artist at Emily Herb's Apapane Pottery Studio on Keonelehua Street. Emily, our host artist, will be selling her beautiful Hawaiian species-inspired pottery and Charlotte Forbes Perry will be there as a guest artist with ceramics and stained glass featuring the many native species found on the island. If it's cold, I'm sure we'll have a fire going. Come warm yourself as you enjoy the nature-inspired artwork and if you're inclined, please support the artist's of Volcano by purchasing the many one-of-a kind pieces available for sale. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Pet portraits available!

Xena, oil on canvas, 8"x10" (Not for sale)

Lani, oil on canvas, 5"x5" (Not for sale)

Honoring our beloved pets! These are two portraits I did of two dogs that I've loved. The bottom one is of Lani, who was my brother's family's pup. She had a wonderful life and lived to a ripe old age. She'd always greet me at the door with such excitement that she'd always pee! Like her own family, she knew she had my heart. 

The top painting is of Xena, who was my friend-family's dog and lived two doors down the road. She was a smart one and would be tempted to jump on me when I fed her when her family was away but she didn't ... she just held her two arms up like she was dancing! That always made me laugh. She's truly missed.

If you're interested in a pet portrait, please feel free to contact me. I can paint them from a clear photograph that captures their personalities. If you're unsure, we can go over the photos you have to pick out the best one to capture.

For starters, here are examples of prices:
5"x5" - $115
6"x6" - $125
5"x7" - $125
8"x10" - $175
12"x12" - $225

Contact me soon before the holidays as I probably won't be taking as many commissions from October - November 2018 since I'll be prepping for the Volcano art studio tour! 

Pet portraits make the best personalized gifts!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Volcano Village Artists Huiʻs 31st Annual Studio Tour and Sale!

The Volcano Village is abuzz with activity as the Village artists are preparing for the annual studio tour and art sale. If you're free Thanksgiving weekend, please join us in the Village (see the map below). I'll be at Emily Herb's studio as a guest artist and will have some new paintings, like those I've featured here on my blog. There will be original artwork and prints to fit any budget!

If you aren't already a fan of Emily Herb's, you will be! Her amazing ceramics feature native birds and plants and are always simply gorgeous! Visiting her studio is like visiting a museum ... where you can buy the artwork! Charlotte Forbes Perry, another guest artist, will have beautiful one-of-a-kind ceramic tiles and stained glass pieces ... including other ceramic surprises. Charlotte is a biologist at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park so you can bet she has a special connection to her subjects.

Visit all of the artists in the Hui and get a stamp on your postcard at each studio and turn them in for a chance to win a piece of artwork from one of the Hui artists or guest artists! Postcards will be available at each studio.

Hope to see you all in Volcano soon!

Hawaiian forest-living

Hāpuʻu-ʻŌhi`a forest, 6"x12", oil on canvas (SOLD)

Some paintings take a year ... Yup, I started this one in November of last year and set it aside after the initial blocking in. It's a view of my backyard, from the view of my "studio" so I knew I would be able to get back to it because I see this view every day. The ʻapapane (red native honeycreeper birds) outside were calling from the same trees so I took at as a calling back to the painting. 

I havenʻt decided whether to paint in the birds or leave it as is. What do you think? Does this need a spot of red?

Please excuse the highlights. The painting is still wet. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

It's persimmon season!

persimmons, 5"x7", oil on canvas ($80 USD) 

Crunchy sweetness is about all I can say about these persimmons! Their lovely shades of yellow to almost reddish orange made these great subjects for my little painting. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Halema`uma`u and koa`e kea

Halema`uma`u and koa`e kea, 8"x10", oil on canvas (SOLD)

Living within a mile of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park provides me with lots and lots of opportunities to visit the summit of Kilauea and watch koaʻe kea (white-tailed tropicbirds) fly around Halemaʻumaʻu crater. We usually see them flying around so far away (like the distant one I painted) that they are merely blurs so I decided they deserved a closeup. I mightʻve chosen a better pose but I enjoyed painting a different view of the bird.

This painting also tasked me to paint believable steam/smoke and I have to admit, it was a bit challenging. I viewed Wilson Bickfordʻs video on YouTube a while back that created a beautiful foggy scene by applying a thin coating of gel medium over dry paint and always wanted to try it ... until I realized I didnʻt have the gel medium he spoke of so I gave it my best shot using the medium I mixed myself. Light circular brushstrokes using a soft clean brush created a bit of wispiness that I was looking for. I think I need to use more medium next time. I'm working on a new painting so I'll have another shot at it.

The reference photo for the koa`e kea is, by permission, from Randy Bartlett who is not only a great biologist and program manager but also a professional conservation photographer. You can purchase his photographs or make a donation to his non-profit, Endangered Hawaiʻi. Heʻs also on Instagram: Endangered Hawaiʻi. A portion of the proceeds of this painting, including any of my other drawings or paintings of endangered species, will be donated to local conservation programs as well so they can continue to protect the species that make Hawaiʻi so unique. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Nene goose (Branta sandvicensis)

Nene, 8"x10", oil on canvas ($120 USD)

Going bigger to 8"x10"! I'm still working on this painting but was just feeling happy about how it was going that I figured I'd post it now before I do the final touches. I just think these geese are so pretty. I think they're a favorite bird to paint in Hawaii because they tend to stand still and allow you to take pictures or paint them. So, not wanting to be typical, I opted to try something new and put this goose in front of a simple background, just to show off its adorable face.

ʻŌhelo (Vaccinium reticulatum)

ʻŌhelo, 5"x7", oil on canvas (SOLD)

Back to my oil painting! Iʻm getting ready for the Volcano Village Artistʻs Hui Sale coming up Thanksgiving weekend. If youʻre around, please stop by Emily Herbʻs Studio. Iʻll be there as a guest artist and will have original paintings like this one and some prints ... and a few surprises!

ʻŌhelo is one of my favorite plants to paint, not only because of the colorful berries (theyʻre related to blueberries, btw), but their leaves are colorful, with hints of red, orange, and yellow. The berries are usually tart and rarely sweet like blueberries but they make great jam or great just eaten off the bush. This painting was actually a bit of a struggle because my reference photos were pretty monochromatic so I had to draw out the colors and exaggerate some. I used a bit of retouch varnish last night, with the plan of fixing some of the details. I quite like that dangling branch with the rain drops. :)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hawaiian mint (Stenogyne macrantha)

Stenogyne macrantha, 5"x7", watercolor on paper ($100 USD, matted & framed)

Hawaiian mints are pretty special. Unlike many mints, they've lost their scent, having evolved in the absence of predators here in Hawaii. Now, mints are getting more and more rare, because of rooting and browsing by feral animals coupled with their short life span. We found this one in S. Kona. The touches of pink on its flowers really drew me in (pun intended). 

Maybe outlining watercolors may be a bit like cheating, at least that is what I've always thought. But, now, I don't think so. It's a look that reminds me of my favorite artist, Garth Williams. His artwork in Charlotte's Web or Stuart Little has brought generations of kids so much joy and I don't think he followed the rules of art. I'm realizing art is not a set of rules but an expression of what's inside. My recent paintings are a nod to Mr. Williams (THANK YOU!) and the little chuckle inside when I get to paint inside the lines. :D