Beauty or Beast? In the Eye of the Beholder or the Believer?

Just recently I had a family issue that I am still trying to come to terms within myself. One way to do it is to run to the edge of the planet (if it were flat) and scream as loud as I can. Neither can I scream nor is there an edge to the planet so that is not the solution. Friends can only go so far because they are supporting you through fire and ice (if they are friends) and so it is not educational to just rely on friends. It is more valuable to rely on one’s enemies if one wants a true opinion since they hate you and hence you know they will tell you the opposite of the truth and thus you are educated.

As far as I know I have no true enemies to ask. So what does an artist do with a pain that cannot be shared with enemies to learn the truth? She paints about it of course. Here in my painting and I will tell you more about it after if you are interested:

Is the bird beautiful?

Beauty is in the eye of the believer

The painting depicts an amazing rock whose photo was provided to me by my generous photographer colleague Linda Segerson of FineArtAmerica. In looking at the rock, to me it seemed it had 2 eyes and one open mouth that was complaining. I also loved the color of the rock. It just fit perfectly with the topic I had brewing in me now for days.

Atop the branch of Coral tree over the rock is a gorgeous male finch in full spring mating plumage. What could be nicer than a bird with such beautiful clothing? Yet to the rock, the bird is a nuisance and is ugly. So who is right? The bird or the rock? And can we blame the tree for having a branch grown right over the rock?

These are important questions to face since the bird thinks it is doing no harm; to him it is life as usual and simply wants to attract a female. To him he is beautiful. The rock also thinks that it is beautiful and that its beauty will be taken away by the droppings of the bird. But will it? And the tree branch is also beautiful and what does it have to do with it?

So at this point, if you are still reading this long entry, you are wondering what point I am trying to make: it doesn’t matter how much help you provide, if they don’t want it, your help becomes a nuisance. This is hard to swallow. Indeed, I have been crying over this now for 2 days and my pleas are falling on def ears. And they will continue to fall on def ears until those ears grow up and they will face the same problems. Until then the world will just keep on being unfair. And that is life. So enjoy it while you can!

A Little Time Alone Is Golden

I am a big dreamer. I always dream quite vivid and colorful dreams. I am told that such is rare since most people dream in black and white and few have vivid dreams. I am not supposed to remember my dreams except if I by accident wake up for something before I finished my REM (Rapid Eye Movement) dreaming period, which happens more often than I like.

Sometimes though the dream fragment I wake up for is beautiful and I stay awake and continue where I wish the dream to go–sort of day dream but at night. This painting came out of such a dreaming. My friend sent me a link to a video where they showed the horses and their treatment that the British Royalty uses. the video was awesome. You could see the horses run free, trot in the water with a rider, etc.

On this picture there is no rider…

A horse's morning walk on the beach

An unbridled horse walking along the golden sunrise of the beach.

Here in my dream the horse was in the very shallow water taking a morning stroll on the golden sunrise, which still has a bit of grayness to it as I saw it on the video, which would be typical for England I suppose; definitely not for California.

But this stroll along the beach alone has more meaning to it than the beauty of the colors. It represents the importance of freedom, of rest, of relaxation, of reflecting on one’s own past, present and thinking about the future. It is a happy scene but I feel there is some caution in there somewhere. Enjoy the present!

This picture can be purchased in print by clicking on the link here and as digital download by clicking on the link here.

Enjoy!

The Other Side

Montery Bay, Carmel, and many areas around–like Pebble Beach–are well known. Most people visit Point Lobos National park but end up visiting only one side. That side is huge by any standards. The rocks in the water are mini mountains; the waves are giants, and the water is crashing so loud you can barely speak. Marine life is abound. But there is another side! It is totally calm; the water is covered by a foamy layer of algae floating. In fact, if you look close enough at the shoreline, it is really a line of caves! I have never seen anything like this before.

You can purchase a print of this photo by clicking here or a digital download and other items by clicking here.

The trip to the “other  side” is a hike of various roads turning left and right with no name so in following the map of the park it is still a great puzzle where you may end up. The hike is not a hard one in terms of steepness but the terrain is rough from the rocks and the many branches that have fallen and its unevenness. Not very easy to find your footing and the place is full of poison oak.. something to definitely avoid touching by accident as you try to grab anything in site for your balance.

So when we finally got a first look of the “other side” I felt a huge relief, thinking “well, we are already there”.. no.. another 15-20 minutes… but the view was definitely worth it.

View to the other side

The other side at Point Lobos National Park

The view here shows you the water and what appears to be a “rounded” shoreline.. those are all caves; hundreds of them. A most amazing sight! Since we went at the time of the year when the June Gloom was expected, that is what you see being lifted for about 15 minutes mid-day. The trees here are covered with lichen and everything is very soft and cushiony; probably years of accumulated lichen and pine tree leaves several feet high that create a carpet that one can barely stand on without falling over. A most amazing place. It also put nature in perspective for me. Nature is huge and we are so tiny yet we have such a huge impact on it. It is an eye opened to go there!

A Wedding Day is Like No Other Day!

I photographed a wedding on Saturday. When I first met the couple they seemed shy, did not care much for photography, and they were not sure at all how this was going to work out since they really did not want to be photographed–they did not consider themselves photogenic or just simply did not like the intrusion of a 3rd person into their private lives. They hired me though well before the wedding–nearly a year before.

So when the rehearsal and the wedding the day after came, I was shocked to see what fun people they were. They loved to play, act funny, laugh and have a good time–no alcohol either which made it even more special. Needless to say they are both amazing on photos and I had one of the best weddings I had every experienced! The warmth of the family, them making us part of the family (I had 2 other photographers with me, as I always do.

Newly wed couple

The couple imitating poses for their upcoming first dance

The photo I am posting here is an interesting one since it carries a lot of emotions and fun yet you don’t even see their faces. It is one of my favorite photos! I am going through a phase of my art style that is taking me toward the colors of the old masters, like Rembrandt. So the colors and the mood are that of Rembrandt. This picture is not for sale of course, but just to show all of those of you who are shy of photography, that even a photo of the back of you can become a piece of art! 🙂 I hope you enjoy the photo!

Hugging the Coastal Mountains

I used to live in Northern California while getting my master’s at Stanford University and also worked full time. I lived there for 5 years. The place was in San Mateo, which is about a one-hour or so drive from Half Moon Bay. I seldom had the time to drive there but I did drive part of the way quite often. The view is aw inspiring!

First you see these amazing waves of thick ocean layer curling around the mountains as if to dress it in a veil giving it a huge hug. Whatever your imagination may be, mine was of a big squeeze of love. There was also a lake as you passed and I remember driving there many times to look back east to see the pink and clue setting skies opposite of the sun settling on the west. In this painting you see me looking toward the west. You see the mountains where the ocean layer gets stuck, beyond which is Half Moon Bay and its gorgeous beach by the Pacific Ocean. But to me to most exciting part of heading toward half Moon Bay was to go when the mountain was hugged by a big layer of white fluff. So here is my memory of that white stuff painted on my iPad using the Inspire Pro app and a precision stylus.

White ocean layer huggs a mountain

Mountains by Half Moon Bay are hugged by white fluff of ocean layer in the Bay area.

To purchase the print in any size or type, please visit my artist website and to purchase a digital download, please visit my main website (both underlined here for your quick access).

What do hummingbirds eat? Do you know?

I often wondered what hummingbirds eat. We all know (I think) that they love Bird of Paradise flower nectar but Bird of Paradise are pretty seasonal. I have long periods of no flowers at all on my many large bushes. But my hummers are thriving so one day I spent the entire day in the yard, just watching them. I have at least 3 couples at all times and often more and when the chicks arrive, it is a hummingbird paradise.

It seems to me that hummers have very specific color preferences for flowers albeit sometimes, when there is nothing else available they will go for other things. But in general they tend to favor the ones with red, orange, pink, purple, so all in the red family and also yellow. They seldom ever go for white or blue, or very very dark purple. I found that interesting. So I planted additional flowers and trees in my yard (which is not large so it is packed now) with bottle brush trees, and a pink wonder called “Mignonette” that is not native to California and I ordered it from the East Coast. It was supposed to be small and hard to go.. well.. no.. not in California… it is weedy beyond control. It shows up everywhere, even in cracks of cement, pots that never get watered, and in general everywhere, They have cute little mini pink floweretts so my hummers love it. There is also a heather type that I have in two colors, one is red and the other is white on top and red on the bottom. Plus many orange and yellow flowers as season allows.

I have photographed hummingbirds many times and often with great success but it is always a crop since when they come close, they fly with like 200 miles per hour and impossible to react fast enough. So photos are always cropped and are too small for large wall prints. But then I am a painter. So I decided last night to paint a hummingbird using one of my photos as inspiration to get the colors right–I have many kinds of hummers and they all look quite different. This painting is done entirely with the palette knife (digital of course), which I have used only in some backgrounds but not usually for the subject. I wanted to see what it would look like. So here it is. Now you may purchase the print of this at my usual artist website (click on the words underlined) and make sure you click on the picture on that website to get to see the textures coming through. You may also purchase a download, you can visit my photography website (click on the underlined words) and purchase a download.

This is digitally painted by hand on my computer. I use the Wacom Intuos 4 tablet and pen and several different kinds of software to get the painting look like the “real” painted version on canvas. Since I was a painter in oil and other medium canvas for 30 years, I understand what an oil paint should look like and I those skills to my digital paintings.

Digital paintings have many advantages over paintings on canvas or paper. The most important of these advantages of digital over “real” is that since digital was created digitally, it will look on canvas or paper once printed exactly as you see it on the monitor and not flat! It is a frequent complaint of buyers after purchasing a print of an oil or acrylic paint on canvas, since on your monitor you see the digitally photographed version of that oil or acrylic paint.

Digital photography of highly textured items like oil or acrylic paint removes all textures and makes them appear flat. You don’t get this problem with digital art. You get exactly what you see! It is also green art–meaning it uses nontoxic materials and doesn’t kill trees in the making!

And here is what it looks like in small:

Painting of a hummingbird feeding

Digital oil paint with palette knife of a hummingbird feeding on a flower in my yard

Not All Calla Lilies are the Same

My yard is not big but a good size as far as California yards go. It is filled with flowers, a few fruit trees, many HUGE Bird of Paradise bushes, etc., to the point that you cannot even see the ground. I am told by some (particularly my gardener) that it is too full and difficult to get though it but I like the jungle look and also like that the ground is so covered that weed has little chance to grow…

Little did I know that some plants that find it hard to grow elsewhere LOVE my yard so much that they pop up everywhere, taking the weed classification of equivalence to dandelion! One of these is the giant Calla Lily! Its stems can easily be up to 6 feet tall. To collect a stem, one does not cut but pull (I learned this from the gardener) so that way one gets to the bottom of the flower. I simply have no vases tall enough to hold a Calla Lily like that without falling over and if I placed them on the table, they reach the ceiling of my house… clearly floor vase is needed!

With that all said and done, they are actually very beautiful and hardy albeit much softer than the Calla Lily types you see in flower stores for sale. The leaves are huge and simple green–no spots–and the flowers.. well.. you can sink an entire wedding bouquet into a single one sometimes. So they are clearly NOT for weddings but can look great in the corner in a tall vase.

Their white is VERY white so hard to photograph without much reflection of the light. Their pollen is extremely long and yellow, very dominant in looks. They are bulbs but quite irregular in share–nearly tuberose type but not quite. In general they are a nuisance but a beautiful one at that. So I painted one long time ago–on the computer of course, digitally by hand. But that was in 2009-2010 and since then my digital painting has seriously improved. So here is a painting update I have created last night in a highly impressionistic style.

White giant Calla Lilly painting

An impressionistic painting of a white giant Calla Lily

What is important to note is the pollen area. If you visit my artist website this flower by clicking on the word “Calla Lily” here, and click on the picture itself, it will bring up details of the textures in full size of a small area, so click on the pollen part. You will be amazed at what digital painting is capable of today! If you prefer to purchase a digital download, you should click here.

Rain is so important and it so seldom falls in the right place! But when it does, it is GOLD!

I photographed–actually 3 years ago–a blade of grass that had some morning drops of rain on it. I took one of these drops and turned it into gold color, enlarged it, and placed another one like it on that grass piss there is a small one on it that is natural and some regular drops on top that I did not turn gold color–perhaps I should have! Perhaps I will too in another moment of time when I find where the original of this photo is from 3 years ago.

In Southern California rain seldom falls and when it does, since we are in a desert here basically, it just runs straight down into the ocean. After a big downpour, within 5 minutes it can look here like it never rained. So when I see the smallest sign of possible rain, don’t even think of trying to find me at home… I will be outdoors, smelling in the fresh scent of heavenly rain and turning every rock and leaf to find life awakening from the golden rain.

So here is a photo–I have a series of this–of my version of Golden Dew, which you can purchase in print if you click on the word GOLD in caps; it looks best on metal:

Rare California Rain

Rare rain in Southern California captured on a blade of grass in an artistic way.

iPad Sunset is Nicer than Real in Southern California

Have you seen Southern California skies? They are blue. Yep. Blue… Clouds? You mean the cute fluffs or the angry storm clouds? What’s that will a SoCal person tell you. We rarely have clouds here and that is the norm. Oh yeah, we do get ocean layer, which is like being inside a giant dark brownish smogish layer of fog but nice clouds? Perhaps 5-10 times a year and to catch those you need to be at the beach since we have so many mountains and hills in the way. I have many times missed such beautiful sunsets in SoCal–mind you in the San Diego area they are luckier than in the Los Angeles area; San Diego does get its fair share of beautiful clouds a lot more than we do in the Los Angeles area.

So what does an artist do when no clouds show up? She paints them. And what do green artists paint them on? Why iPad of course!

So here is my latest iPad painting of Capo Beach, which is near Aliso Viejo and is in southern Orange County. I was there a few months ago photographing a model and though there was no spectacular sunset, the beach is actually nice there.. so here it is, as I wish it looked like on that day! iPad painting by the way is done with a stylus for fine tip painting, it is harder to paint on iPad than on canvas or “real” medium because the screen is smaller so you see only parts rather than the whole in one piece while working. It also has to be then enlarged on the computer to make it into print size and resolution. I used the app InspirePro to point this.

All of my iPad paintings have been enlarged in size and resolution to print beautifully and of you click here you can purchase this painting as print or if you click here you can also purchase a digital download of the same. Here is the painting in small:

Sunset painting in Capo Beach

iPad painting of a beautiful sunset on Capo Beach, California

Water Drops of a Blind Photographer?!

Sometimes, we photographers are so blind! What is in front of us we don’t see… we only see what we want to see. Perhaps this is true for you as well. My eyes seem to be trained to have amazing peripheral vision and the slightest movement of a bird of fly will capture my attention but I can have a tiger about to jump at me sitting in front of me and I will probably bump into it and fall over it and it will (hopefully) walk away thinking I am already dead…

Take a look at this case and point: a photo with beautiful rain drops, which is unique since it never rains in California.. right? Right.. so it rained this morning.. just a bit… and I had to go and capture the rain drop… the fact that a whole world of interesting creatures is in front of me (probably for the same reason) is completely invisible to me.. I am hunting for rain drops… I am HUNTING for raindrops… and miss a much more exciting subject that is literally posing for me: a cricket… how often do you have the chance to capture a motionless cricket for 30 minutes? Never before and probably never again.  But.. I do have some nice raindrops!?!?

Rain drops and a cricket on a daisy

rain drops and an invisible cricket on a daisy after rain