Tuesday, May 30, 2017

White, Brown, and Blue Color Scheme

Archways at the City Palace in Jaipur, India
   The ocean, blue skies, clean, white spaces, it's all very summery to me and with Summer coming, I feel inspired by these Summer colors. It's been amazing editing my photo collection and finding those photos that are limited to these two colors. It's like travelling to these places all over again. I can relive those experiences and look through my journals for more information about those experiences.

Jaipur Bloom, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017

  The little painting above was inspired by the City Palace arches. It's a loose interpretation, like all my other pieces. I like taking little shapes and pieces and colors from each photo. More after the jump......

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Colorful Color Scheme

  So I've decided to be very regimented in how I find inspiration for my work. I'm still working with the idea of microbes and growth and the idea of strange bacteria secretly growing in caves, but, I need further inspiration for shapes and colors. I decided to get those from my large photo archive. We've traveled to so many places over the years and I still haven't developed any serious work from it. Now feels like the time to finally do that.

  I am limiting the types of photos I can use. It's all by color scheme. Every week I've been choosing a different color scheme. For this week, it's colorful. Whatever colors I want. Last week was only yellow, green and blue. Limiting the colors forces me to concentrate on shape and helps me explore those particular colors.

  Above is a work I created for the #100dayproject, an instagram hashtag to get artists creating again. I've been doing it since it started in April and it's been a great kick in the pants. I used the photo below as a guide for shape and color. It's a very very loose interpretation, I just get basic shapes.

Hong Kong Island Street Car

Buildings in the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires
   I took some of the color blocking from the photo above, in La Boca. It's been more fun combining elements from different pictures as well.

  The painting above is also from the #100dayproject and it was inspired by the photo below of Venice, hence the boat shape.

Venice Canals

Indian Crescent, watercolor on handmade paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017

   The painting above was influenced by the ghats of Varanasi. The umbrellas make such a great shape. I kept the crescent shape from the Western China paintings. The crescent is fun to work with.

Ghats of Varanasi, India

Indian Colors, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017
   After looking at a few photos and working with a few different shapes, they all begin to meld and I repeat the shapes and ideas over again. As long as I restrict my palette and loosely use the shapes given to me, I can explore and be more creative.

Ghats at Varanasi, India

Color Compartments, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017
   With these I went back to the crystal idea. I am still very into the crystal shape and concept. The idea of microbes being trapped in the crystal is forever inspiring.

Crystal Traps, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017

Indian Crystals, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017

Umbrellas of Varanasi, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017

Hairy Color Crystals, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017

Balloon Crystals, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Shapes of Western China

Crescent Lake #1, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung 2017

  I've begun working in a bit of a different way. Since looking through all of our old photos, I'm finally discovering that I can take something from all the travels I've done in the past. I wasn't able to do it at the time of travel, but I'm finally feeling it now. It's been a revelation. I'm still interested and pursuing the idea of microbes and growth and strange crystal cave creatures, but I now have a place to find inspiration for shapes and colors. They're coming directly from these old travel photos.

Crescent Lake #2, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017 

 I begin with a color scheme and then look for photos that meet that theme. After choosing them, I look for shapes I like within the photo and use them in my paintings of microbes. It's been great! I'm forever inspired and excited and intrigued. The weekly color scheme change keeps it interesting and I have an excuse to look at all my old pictures.

  The paintings above are inspired by our trip to Xinjiang province which has this amazing Central Asian culture. It's as if we were travelling in the Stans. The people are beautiful and kind and the food is so good. We loved it there so much.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Amniotic Microbial Worms

Amniotic Microbial Worms, watercolor and graphite on handmade paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017

  The micro-organisms are evolving in my work. I'm trying out some imagery of them in birthing sacs. I've always loved playing with these organic shapes and these micro-organisms are a great way for me to continue. This idea of microbial worms growing within the Crystal Caves is still resonating with me. Imagining these strange creatures is a never-ending source of subject matter.

  These last few days I've been limiting my palette to just green, blue, and red-orange. I chose these colors from a photograph I took of Mont Bre in Switzerland. The mountains in the background and the lake in the foreground were different shades of blue and the hillside was green with a little village tucked into it with red-orange rooftops. Limiting my palette has allowed me to free my mind a bit and concentrate more on the imagery and less on color choices. Of course the neutrals (white, black, grey, brown) don't count. More images inspiring my color palette are on my Instagram.

Detail of the handmade paper, Lupa with Abaca Strings
   I've been working with handmade paper more and more. Each type reacts differently to each media. This paper is really bizarre. It was given to me my Grandmother and had a label describing it as Lupa with Abaca strings. I looked it up and it's a handmade paper from the Phillipines. One side is smooth and the other has these strings running parallel through it. It's quite rough so it wasn't easy making smooth lines like I need to do. I can't not make smooth lines! So that offered quite a challenge, but it was fun. I love finding media that works with these strange papers. I used Caran d'Ache watercolor crayons, watercolor, and graphite. The watercolor crayons helped me create the smooth line. The paper did not absorb the watercolor much at all. The paint just stained the paper, but I tried to figure out how to make that work to my advantage.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Colored Embryo

Color Embryo #1, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017
 I love the idea of cells reproducing on their own and creating new life or different life. This is what I imagine it looks like if done with color. Beginning with a large sac, embryos form and stretch and begin to pull away from the "mother" cell and are then on their own. I believe this actually happens, that some organisms can reproduce on their own and create new life.

Color Embryo #2, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017
   This happening has always been of great interest to me. It's been an ongoing topic in my work for years. It always bothered me that people would immediately conclude that my interest was purely because I was interested in reproducing myself which was not the case. This subject of cell reproduction has been under exploration before I had children, during, and afterwards and I never related the two. Strange as that may sound, I view the two completely differently even though I know they are directly related.

Color Embryo #3, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017
  What's happening here, in my paintings, is an imagined molecular state where I can experiment with fluid forms and play with shapes and colors in endless ways. I love creating organic shapes or shapes that are impossible in reality.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Complex Organisms

Scipio, watercolor and graphite on handmade paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017
  I've had a grand time with these guys. I've realized, since my last post, how wonderful and even freeing it is to limit the palette. This time around, I limited myself to only yellow, green, and pink/red. Though the yellows are more of a yellow-green and the greens, green-yellow. I'm pushing for the split complementary. What a wonderful way to color combine. And since I decided on this palette, I'm seeing it everywhere! It's in our front yard with a yellow blooming shrub next to a lavender plant blooming fuchsia, it's up the street where I see a yellow and green striped aloe next to tiny pink wildflowers. There's a reason we mimic nature, our eyes love it!

  Scipio, above, was a pretty serious challenge. It's painted on handmade mulberry paper from Thailand. I bought it at the paper factory myself many years ago and have been carefully saving it all this time and I'm so glad I did. This big guy needed it as a home. The difficulty was in the way the paper took the paint. It mostly acted like a blotter paper so the paint wouldn't flow. I had to work lightening fast and figure out the exact amount of water to add so it wouldn't run too much when it dried. That challenge was quite fun, though. I enjoy working quickly and having to concentrate hard. It's a good brain workout! The imagery came, again, from imagining the weird micro-organisms discovered in the Cave of Crystals in Mexico.

Lovely Organisms, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017
  These two came from having a nice chunk of time to do some work and just laying some paint down and seeing what came of it. It got weird. I made some awkward shapes, but I knew I could save them or I should at least try and I came up with the one above. It was accidental and when that happens, wonderful things come about. I'm really happy with these simply because they're so strange and I so enjoyed making them. It also helps that my 7 year old really likes them!

Gnaeus, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Green and Yellow Microbial Worms

G/Y Microbial Worm #1, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017
 Spring colors are a definite influence here. It is so enjoyable taking notice of colors all around me. I can't believe I've ignored it for so long. It's as if a large space in my brain has opened up and now has time and ability to notice and do the things I've always enjoyed. I've become more mindful and it's been a natural progression. I haven't had to force it and I've been happier overall.

  These microbial creatures are still on my mind and I think they will be for a long time. The imagery is endless and there are many opportunities for different iterations. These paintings are a play on the development of microbes, starting out in cells and creating themselves.

G/Y Microbial Worm #2, watercolor on paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017