Breaking ice with my Art

 

 mountai ram

Canadian are more reserve as whole, rarely strangers would start a conversation with another stranger on the public transit. However the frozen facades been melting slightly since I been drawings on the subway trains.

This winter is seems extremely cold in Toronto. The morning trains, it is ice cold inside, Even I bundle up with hat, scarf and gloves but I still manage to draw. Passengers around me usually resting with their eyes closed around me

thistle

Today, the man sat near me look like he was napping during the whole trip but when he got up for the exit he tuned back said to me “Nice drawing”.

Another day, the woman sat next to me commented on my beautiful drawing. Next she would started to tell me story about her daughter’s up coming wedding.. She has to give up this year vacation in order to pay for her up coming trip to Jamaica for her daughter’s big wedding. We chatted all the way to the end of the line while I was drawing.

Last Friday, another woman was so interested in what I was doing. She told me when she was a child how much she loved to draw, seeing me drawing she wanted to get back to drawing again. Before she got off the train, she inquired about where to buy the paper and pen..

Never expected my mobile studio has invited such lovely responds.

wood duck

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Painting for a special day

painting for a special day s

Painting for a special day

Today is a very special day for me. It was 41 years ago our family arrived in Canada from Hong Kong. It was on Jan. 23, 1973 our plane touched down in Toronto after a whole day travel we finally reached our new country.
I still remember my excitement of seeing snow for the first time. In fact, everything seemed new and exciting to me then. We were full of hopes and expectations for our new future.
However our once busy household is quiet in recent years. Grandmother pass away long ago and father has followed her two years ago. All my sisters and brother had moved away and started their own lives. After living on my own for years, I moved back to help my mother to look after father. After he was gone, there is only two on us left in the house. After years of struggle to make a name in Canada I am not as hopeful as I was but my love of art making still burns brightly.
Ever since I was a child I love to watch dragonfly, bee buzzing in the garden and they still capture my attentions. (Watercolor on arches 140 lb rough paper, 8”x11
Coincidentally, I will attend the opening of my latest exhibition on this very special day!

National Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Today, Jan 21 is national squirrel appreciation day. let’s celebrate those cute animals however they don’t make good house guests.

Here is my Squirrel post card with its own stamps watercolor with stamps, 5.5″x7″

squirrel stamps

This one is a paper cut on a coffee bag, 4.5″x12″

 Squirrel coffee bag

Another watercolor on paper, 5.5″x7″squirrel day painting

this one is a paper cut on a shopping bag

tommy squirrel

My private watercolor lesson

the kingfishers

the book

 

Few years ago, I went to a church book sale. I didn’t find any books I interested in but on my way out I spotted a book among the children’s book table. It was the book I been looking for over 35 years, “The Kingfishers”!

40 years ago, our family immigrated to Toronto, Canada. I was still a teenager and had not finished high school yet. I was sent to Central Technical School in Toronto to continue high school study.

 However, I spoken little English and was very shy. During my interview with the school principle I showed him my little sketch book. He must see something in me and allowed me to enter their post secondary three years art programs.

I never had any formal art lessons back in Hong Kong and my follow students are lot older and more advance in art training.

One of the classes we had to attend was art history which started from Greek period. Since my English was rather limited and all those Greek words were not just hard for me to follow. After a couple of those classes I deceived to avid it all together.

One afternoon, when I was skipping art history and my home room teacher saw me. After I told her my reason of not attend class, she invited me in to her  class room. She was about to give me a private lesson in watercolor.

She pulled out a book from her book case; it was “The Kingfishers” by Karel Novy and with beautiful illustrations by Mirko Hanak.  Hanak’s paintings were heavily influenced by Chinese and Japanese paintings. My teacher, Barbara Greene thinks being Chinese I would appreciate his works.  She gave me watercolor lesson on wet on wet technique. Noticed I did not own any decent brushes, she allowed me to use hers.

From then on, every week, I would learn watercolor from her instead of attending art history lesson.

Many years later, I discovered, Ms Greens was the president of the Canadian society of painter in watercolor. I only had her as teacher for two years as she retired before I finished the three years program.

This book is now my prize procession and reminds me the kindness of a great artist and teacher.

The power of social medium

 

touch down

Yesterday, after I post my latest “mobile art” (drawings I done while riding the subway). Right away, one of my followers asks if I wanted to sell it. Soon than I say yes, she brought it and sent the money to my pay pal account. This been happened a lot recently, I sold another painting to someone on Facebook as well.

In the old days, most of my sales were through galleries. First, I need to had it framed, delivered to the gallery wait for a buyer to purchase it. Even when the work finally sold, I still have to wait for three months to be paid and the gallery would keep 50% as commission.

Now, with the power of the internet and social medium, all I need is create the art, upload and it sells by itself and no more needs to share my income.

Treasure from season’s past

 

garden tresure

Treasure from season’s past

I came across two dried maple leaves I saved in a book this morning. I don’t know how long it had been there. After looking at them for a while, I thought of how fragile they are but survived all those years in a book. Soon enough, an idea came; I wanted to draw on them. I used a Sharpie carefully draw an owl on it and make sure not to press to hard as it would break the fragile leaf.

I was happy with the result and look it out to the garden to take some photos with the snow covered garden.

A page from my past

zebra drawing

 Today, I was cleaning my studio and came across two old sketch books. When I was an art student I used to keep many sketch books. As I leaf through them I found one with a detail drawing of a zebra! It was a drawing I done 40 years ago.

When I was a teenager I was enroll in a special art program at Central Technical School in Toronto.. My favorite class was museum study: we used to paint and draw at the Royal Ontario Museum. Once a week, our instructor Mrs. Davis would conduct her class there. Mrs. Davis was well respected by the students, everyone address her as Mrs. Davis and no one knew her full name. She was a wonderful and kind teacher and I received a lot of attentions from her. She taught me for two years before she retired and I never seen her again.

I am grateful from the knowledge she taught me,

The last blue irises

 the last blue irises

This is my last painting of the year 2013

“The last blue irises”

I been in my studio for 23 years, I know many of the houses in the neighborhood well from my daily walk. Many of those houses each has a small land reserved for gardening and wherever I walk by I would connect the garden with the house and even its owners.

I am particular fond of one house near my studio: Each spring, a large patch of irises would spring up from a small garden by the side of the house. They were the old fashion irises, mostly blues but another one type was the mauve and white with yellow markings. On a sunny day I would make sure to walk by that corner to visit the little irises garden. I knew certain time of the day, when the sunlight behind, it was the most magical moment. Eventually the irises found its way into my paintings more than once

However I never met its owner. Until a few years ago, I wrote a note to the unknown house owner along with photo of the iris painting, express the pleasure the iris garden gave me.

Few days later, an older woman came to my studio. She was the owner of that house and it was her husband planted those beautiful irises. She told me the irises were the pride and joys of her husband. Sadly, he has been in a nursing house, suffering from Alzheimer. She was touched and I painted her husband’s irises garden.

A couple of summer later, I ran into her outside of her house, she told me she would selling the house as it was too big for her to live there alone. Shortly, the sale sign was up and within weeks it was sold. I never see the lady again, pretty soon the new owner moved in. the old house underwent a long renovations, the entire door and windows been replaced including the little irises garden.

Last spring was the first spring without the beautiful irises. They were replaced with some trendy tall grass!

My “ the last blue  irises” is dedicated to the man I never meet whom planted the irises garden which live in my heart and in my painting.