Featured Post

Important note about post dates and the archive

August 31, 2023

Pink hydrangea

This was colored in Procreate on my ipad. Using the underpainting method has made it much easier to do digital art on my ipad. It's cool, but so clunky. I definitely prefer doing it on my computer with a tablet.

 I was hoping to finish this before September but that just did not happen. So here is some documentation of where I'm at. Because I'm coloring this on my ipad I only make progress when I'm in a waiting room or having a really slow day at work.

Oh, since this is in Procreate, that means I will get a timelapse video at the end! Yay!

Seated figure

August 27, 2023

Quilt update

I am very excited to start coloring in the squares. I was only planning to do a few squares, but got carried away.

I have no idea where this is headed, but I'm excited. It's more about the journey than the destination. This type of painting project is similar to my stained glass pieces. It is great work for listening to podcasts.

August 26, 2023

Eighty Squares Ground Zero

Starting a new experimental painting. This one will be similar to my very first paintings when I took an oil painting class for college credit. 

First, I had to cover the entire canvas in a solid color. I'm going with blue instead of my go-to earthy tones and neons.

After covering the canvas in blue, I drew in the square grid. Then, I covered half of the canvas in purple. 

Start with the simplest composition as possible. Establish balance.

Because of the nature of my approach, I can easily change direction if needed. Right now, I am only committing as much as I need to, and the left will be improvised along the way. What if I treated it like a game of Tetris?

The fun part about this painting is that I won't design the whole thing at once. I'm going square by square. That way, I have room to change directions if needed. 

The first batch of squares for now. This is the underpainting. The neon pink and oranges neutralize the blue.

  • Create smaller compositions that adhere to the overall setup (the alternating blue and purple squares underneath)
  • Stick to one quadrant at a time (I already failed this... oops)

August 22, 2023

Mini rose painting

 Finished this third rose painting (for now) and enjoyed a banana strawberry smoothie.

Flower practice paintings

Some small practice paintings inspired by a visit to the Chicago Botanical Garden in 2018. I got a nice opaque pink paint (Cobra permanent red violet light) that would be perfect. 

The goal is to keep a limited palette. I wanted to stick to three colors if possible, and only introduce other colors if they are particularly necessary.

Once this dries I want to add another layer of color depth.

Colors used:

  • Cobra red violet light
  • Cobra Persian rose
  • W&N Indian red
  • W&N alizarin crimson
  • Cobra yellowish green
  • Cobra emerald green

I think this one is a dinner plate hibiscus flower.

  • Cobra red violet light
  • Cobra Persian rose
  • Cobra titanium buff
  • W&N yellow ochre
  • W&N phthalo green (yellow shade)

Here's one I started last night. I primed the surface with yellow ochre acrylic paint and drew on top. Then I toned it with burnt umber and pale rose blush. 

August 17, 2023

Kamaole Beach Park I

I have started another Hawaii painting. It is the same size as the other picture. I chose the photo because of its composition. The arrangement of elements is simple but leaves room for interesting details and improvisation. 

I drew the picture first and toned the canvas after, since I used transparent paint. 

Applied gel gloss to the underpainting to add extra texture, but only to certain parts.

Just got a few tubes of paint from Blick. To my collection I have added Cobra water mixable paint colors, all of which were employed.

Yellowish green & Emerald green: Foliage

King's blue & Grayish blue: Sea and sky

Permanent red violet light: Tree

Random thoughts

The grayish blue is very, very oily in the tube. But I like it that way. I also recently learned that water-mixable paint just means you CLEAN it with water, but still use various painting mediums. I use linseed oil and painting medium, but for a long time I was thinning out my paints with plain old water. Now that I am learning more about how paint behaves, I can see why painting mediums are superior. Water is just for cleanup. 

A closeup of the waves and land. The textures make me so happy and I am so in love with these paint colors. The goal is to make a fantastic painting alla prima. But once this is dried, I will add a few smaller details to really bring her to life.

Maui Wowie

It has mostly dried so I was able to add another application of paint. I am hoping to add another level of detail once this layer is dry. I am busy with moving but all I want to do is paint.

August 12, 2023

Me 'n' Nikki update

Adding the next layer of paint was so satisfying! The blue shorts are still quite bright, but I emphasized other details since my last session. I can't get over how much better this looks than the original painting. I still want to add another layer of details once this new paint has dried. Other than that, she is quite close to completion. 

< Original post
> Next update TBD

Winter update

Now that the painting has dried, it is time for the next layer application! This is where the fun really begins. 

I added a purple glaze over her fur to bring out the black. Her face looks a little weird right now but it was hard to get decent lighting both while painting, and getting the photograph. Once this layer dries I will be going back for more changes to her face. Still have to add those whiskers!

I absolutely love how the colors are coming along. Reinforcing the colors really brings the painting to life. This painting is coming along quite well and while I have sacrificed the original painting underneath, the risk has paid off. 

< First post

< Previous update

> Next update (???)

Maui landscape update

 I was only going to paint the mountains but I ended up doing the whole thing in one go. It's a fairly small canvas, only 9x12 inches. I was feeling a little nervous where I left off yesterday, but have since then re-gained control. The goal is to paint alla prima; let it dry for at least seven days; and then add a second layer of paint for smaller details and fine tuning. 

It was difficult to get a good photo.

I managed to stay faithful to the value map and I love how the mountains came out, especially the patch of light. The colors are fairly faithful to the source photo.

< First post

August 11, 2023

Maui landscape

I am so upset about the wildfires in Maui that it makes me sick. In particular I always think about the innocent animals who don't even know what's going on. It makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry, just thinking about it. And knowing how much worse things are going to get from here. Now I'm spiraling. F*%^ climate change. F*&# wildfires.

If it helps, even a little bit, I donated some money to the Maui Humane Society. One thing I have always wanted to do is make art for charity. I have some experience with it - I parted with some of my first oil paintings for a donation fundraiser. 

I've been wanting to start a landscape painting, so why not pick something Hawaii themed? I don't think about what to do with my paintings after they're done - but if this came out nice enough I could probably donate it, somehow? 

My approach was a little different this time: I laid down a layer of brown acrylic paint, then drew over it with colored pencil and paint markers.

Two photos from after I did the underpainting. It will take some more practice because I keep losing the drawing underneath. I really liked the contours in the marker sketch and now you can barely see them. Also this looks like a Georgia O'Keefe painting right now if you catch my drift... 

Because the tone background is so dark, I needed to light up the clouds somehow. I used a very neon pink, and applied multiple layers of that and the paint marker. My last task of the session was adding a layer of gel gloss to give the clouds some texture. 

As you can see, this gel gloss, along with the lighting, produces a tremendous difference. The first picture was taken last night with artificial light. The other was taken today in the morning sun. I suspect the gel gloss brought out the neon red - man, it's loud! But I have big plans for this little painting. Just need to let it dry a bit.

August 9, 2023

Orange lilies

 Finished my digital scenery painting of the orange lilies. Here is my earlier progress.

I really enjoyed experimenting with textures and abstract shapes. Since the lilies are the focal point, they get more attention to detail. I'm happy with how colorful she came out and I'm looking forward to more. I've been feeling burnt out with digital, but experimenting with traditional art has inspired me to look at art in a new way. It is a constant back and forth conversation.

Self portrait update

 < Previous entry

I am not feeling happy with the self portrait. Painting fine details at this scale is very challenging. Even the smallest decision has consequences, and it ended up getting overworked. The details of the face and hair were lost and it does not much resemble the sketch underneath, much less my own likeness!

The gel gloss is cool, but it is making things complicated in this situation. I do like being able to wipe away anything I painted on - I undid most of the backdrop. 

It was a lot of struggle and reworking. While this picture dries, I have time to decide if I want to keep pursuing this or start over from scratch.

The tortoise looks okay, but I am still frustrated at myself for not following the value map more closely, so the color placement seems random. I plan on adding another layer of paint once this has dried. It could use some more work, but overall I am fairly happy with it. 

< First entry

> Next update (???)

August 7, 2023

Self portrait

October 2017

One of my college painting assignments was a self portrait on a HUGE canvas. While I was leaving the art supply store with my new blank canvas, I overheard one of the jabronis at the neighboring cigar outlet comment that "she seems like a bitch." Ok, Ken.

I absolutely hated everything about this project assignment. I was uncomfortable because I hated school, I hated the class, and I hated myself. Having to stare at a giant, poorly drawn picture of my own face was nauseating. But, there was no way to weasel out of this assignment, so I just had to do it. I still have the canvas and hope to repurpose it someday. 

Lately, I have been thinking more about how people see me, and how I would like to be remembered. What will they write in my obituary? What will they say about me at my funeral? What will remain of me, 100 years from now?

It has been a long journey, but I am learning to love and accept myself. I am not very comfortable with pictures or recordings of myself, so pursuing this idea is going outside my comfort zone. The painting of me and Nikki counts as a self portrait, but I would like a portrait that represents this current moment in my life.

Started off with some scribbles. The main difference between this and the original self portrait is the scale. The size of your picture is a statement in itself:

  • Big: Look! At! ME!
  • Medium: Like looking in the mirror.
  • Small: You need to see me up close to truly appreciate me.
The last of which, is the message I want to focus on. It is easier than ever to gloss over other people without ever giving them a chance. But, I love myself and I know I have a lot to offer. You just need to take the time to know me. And isn't that true of everyone? 

Acrylic paper

I Like Turtles

After toning it with transparent colors, I applied a generous layer of gel gloss. I absolutely love the depth it brings to the image. Which reminds me: I would like to try out matte gel for a more frosty translucent surface that slightly blurs the picture below. 

Took this picture while the gel gloss was still drying. I imagine the matte gel would look something like this.

Orange lilies

Sometimes I like to sketch before bed. Lately I have taken up sketching photos from our recent summer vacation. It looks quite nice, so why not color it?

The fun thing about switching between traditional and digital art is how skills transfer - and transform. I approached this as if it were a traditional painting. I toned the background and placed values before the actual coloring. 

But here's where things get different: I added various textures to the colors. I'm not going for a realistic depiction of the scene. The main focus is the feeling and colors of the scene. I like this approach because it reminds me of pietra dura.

I have made more progress since this update, but I am almost done, so why spoil the surprise? I will leave you with this, though: I'm loving it!!

August 6, 2023

Emily with short hair

Digitally colored a scanned doodle; I think she came out quite cute. The caption below was for something else but I decided to keep it. Maybe she is the (un)luckiest person alive.

August 5, 2023

Flower sketches

I'm going through old sketchbooks and deciding what to keep and what to toss, and it made me realize that I should actually draw in my sketchbook more often. I've regressed back into my old habit of drawing on scrap paper, which doesn't inspire high quality drawing. So here are some recent sketchbook drawings, both inspired by my summer vacation.

Me and Nikki update

I ended up coloring this all in one go, so now I can wait for it to dry. I had a lot of fun working on this one, and the subject matter is very dear to me too. It looks so much better than the original painting, and I am also glad I fixed Nikki's face. I'm finally getting comfortable with how I draw cats.

Main colors used:

  • Titanium buff (Cobra) - general white
  • Persian Rose (Cobra) - shirt and shorts
  • Naples yellow light (Cobra) - Nikki
  • Naples yellow (W&N) - skin (lighter tone)
  • Naples yellow red (Cobra) skin (darker tone)
  • Yellow ochre (W&N) hair
  • Cadmium red hue (W&N) 
  • Burnt sienna (W&N)
  • Phthalo blue (W&N) shorts

Even though the painting is incomplete, I still think it looks quite nice as it is. The blue shorts are very loud, but once I add in the other details it won't feel like the main focus. There are a lot of things I would still like to do to this painting.

  • Add red stripes to shirt
  • Emphasize Nikki's orange-ness
  • Add hints of blue or green to the staircase
  • Fine-tune details and outlines
  • Small color corrections
  • Shading on face
  • Make foot smaller
  • Fix Nikki's front paws

Dante progress update

This time, I added a layer of phthalo blue, which is a very strong staining pigment. I tried glazing magenta over his fur which wasn't a very good idea - yes, the pigment is transparent but still looks better over certain colors than others. It's fine though, I can easily cover this up with another layer.  His whiskers are coming along nicely!

Once this dries I want to add some finer details, especially on Dante. Make his facial features a little more defined. Thinking about what else I could dad to this painting to make him look nicer.

First post

< Previous update

> Next update (???)

Winter painting progress update

I made a lot of progress on Winter over the weekend, and she is starting to come together. 

Last time on Dragon Ball Z: we were off to a shaky start and I was feeling uncertain. But things are starting to turn around.

Here is a list of the main paint colors I used.


  • Titanium Buff
  • Persian Rose

Winsor & Newton

  • Ivory black
  • Payne's gray
  • Magenta
  • Ultramarine
  • Phthalo Green
  • Phthalo Blue
  • Naples yellow

Overall, I am very excited with how she is coming along. The black takes a very long time to dry, despite its matte-like surface suggesting otherwise. I am planning to glaze it to bring out the depth of her black fur. I would also like to make her eyes more soft.

I am satisfied with my decision to include a wintry backdrop. A lot of the detail is still rough around the edges, but once the paint has dried, I plan on adding a little more color and definition.

Oh, that hand! I regret picking naples yellow for the skin tone. I should have mixed it with something darker. The mismatch in values makes it stand out too much. It especially distracts from Winter’s yellow eyes. Hopefully glazing over the hand with a darker color will help. Because that yellow is LOUD! 

Other than the color of the hand, I am mostly happy with the direction this painting has taken. I think the risk has already paid off - the risk of painting over an existing picture to create a better version. This is still a work in progress, but there is still so much potential and I look forward to really making her stand out.

First post

< Previous update

> Next update

August 4, 2023

Mini painting practice update

My mini practice paintings are finally dry, which means I can add a new layer of paint! It was mostly color glazing, but I added some full body paint in other areas. This extra layer of color really helped bring the pictures to life. I could do more, but because of the small scale, it's better to leave them alone.

< Original post

Gel gloss + Ink = ???

Yesterday I found this mini canvas with a brick-like pattern that I never did anything with. I'm dying to know what happens when you mix ink with gel gloss. Ink is transparent, so it should dry clear, right? Let's do a little experiment.

I borrowed a little jar of ink from my sister and mixed it with the gel gloss. It was a rough mixture as I want it to be inconsistent. It looks like I slathered it in glue, but just wait until this dries...

Dude. I was so excited to check on this the next morning. And the result did not disappoint. Photography does not do it justice. My favorite thing about the gel gloss is how the light passes through it. This is something I am interested in exploring more thoroughly.

This canvas is just a practice piece. Much like with this picture, I'm planning to use it for my spare paint that I don't want to waste. Because the picture is already toned, whatever I paint on top of the gel will still be faithful to what's underneath. Hopefully. We'll see. It's just experimentation, after all!

August 2, 2023

Winter redux

Making good progress on Winter. There has been a lot of uncertainty especially regarding her face. But I am fairly confident I can pull this off. For part 1, click here.

Drawing on top of the painting. 

Toned the canvas with neon orange and neon pink acrylic paint. Added values using raw sienna and burnt umber acrylic paint. Then, I drew over it using a fine-tipped Posca marker. 

Here is where I left off. Her face needs more work, but once this coat of paint dries, I will be able to make the proper adjustments. Her eyes and black fur need to be a little darker and more solid, that's all.

< First post

> Next update