A joy-ride in a paint box

I started painting in December. Why does one decide to paint? I got the initial seed of the idea when I read ‘The Last Lion’ series of Winston Churchill biographies, and discovered how much joy can be found in painting. How it could take one’s mind off the ‘black dog’ of depression, apparently. And it kind of worked… it really does take your mind off of everything, as you become completely absorbed in working the canvas. The hours just seem to fly by, kind of like video editing, but even more so.

Before this, I had been dabbling in doing art on my iPhone. But once you experience painting with oils, nothing can replicate the intimate and tactile experience of mixing and melding real physical goop. It is quite unlike anything. How you look at it up close, the shininess of it, the brush strokes, even the smell of it. But it can also be infuriating.

Anyway, here is the story of my painting journey thus far.

This was my first effort. I wanted to make an abstract, a real piece of ‘modern art’. I thought it’d be easy. How wrong I was. I made a few strokes with red, which I liked, but quickly realized I had no plan. I drew a cat in the middle. I was so unhappy with the finished piece, I mushed it all together with my hands, until I liked it. Thus, my first oil painting.

My second painting was my greatest failure. I had clementines (lil cuties) for breakfast, which I thought would be a nice subject for a still life. And I thought a black background would go great with it; black and orange. So I painted the whole canvas black, and waited a day for it to dry. The next day, I started painting in the oranges, but it completely mixed in with the still-wet black paint, creating an ugly gray. Thus, my second painting, ‘eyes of defeat.’ Stymied… for now.

My mom got me some books on oil painting from the library (she’s a librarian, so she’s always doing this). I decided to actually follow one of the tutorials from the book, and came up with this painting of pears. I painted on a paper grocery bag, because I didn’t want to waste a canvas on another failure. Luckily, it turned out all right! I was really surprised. This is actually one of my favorites. I had a lot of fun blending shadow with light on the pears, and the green looks so tasty. The only thing I don’t like is how I messed up some strokes around the middle pear’s stem.

Another tutorial from the oil painting book. I thought this turned out quite nicely too. Just a few a few hours one morning, and great fun. I do like landscapes.

I decided to tackle my oranges again. This time, it kind of worked. I like how the upper right one turned out, but the lower left one gave me lots of trouble. My dad didn’t realize these were oranges, sadly. I really don’t like the shadows on the plate either; it just looks like a dirty plate. Overall, however, this turned out better than the ‘eyes of defeat’ painting.

My first painting after returning to L.A. I went to a painting workshop at Sun Space, and they had a live model sit for us. It was really intimidating, doing my first portrait. At certain points, I just think the painting is the worst thing ever. But keeping at it, something comes together, halfway presentable. I don’t know what or how it happens, but it just does. Also incredible was how every painter at the workshop had a radically different style, all covering the exact same material. Eye opening how differently we all see things.


In Mario’s castle, there are many paintings, and this was one of them; I decided I must paint it. It’s just so whimsical, simple, yet beautiful. I really had fun with this, mixing the blues, and forming puffs of cloud.

This was an abstract I wanted to do that represented energy, heat. I was inspired by stuff like Mark Rothko, and knew I wanted to use a palette knife. I couldn’t figure a way to make it interesting until I put those ‘brick’ shapes into it. The last thing I did was put the yellow frame around it, which I think ties it together.

I wanted to try watercolors after seeing Bambi again recently. Watercolors, much more unforgiving. You make a mistake, and it’s there forever. Dries very quickly. But I love the lightness of it.

Another portrait painting workshop at Sun Space. This is my latest painting. It was a struggle, because I started out not knowing what I was doing, and hating what I saw. I thought it looked so ugly for most of the session. But… I guess my philosophy kind of worked, which is to attack the canvas with gusto, and not think too much. It finally turned into something interesting. I kept thinking, ‘there’s a real person under there, I just need to find her.’

I got charcoal pencils for Christmas, so I figured I’d try some sketching too. After I got my sketch book, I tried this. Worked off a picture of myself from a little while ago. Tough, but hopefully, it’ll get better. Mouths are hard. So are eyes and noses. And hands. In fact, everything in a portrait is tough.

I watched a Ted talk by a cartoonist, who said, ‘anyone can draw’, and proceeded to teach the audience how to draw simple cartoons. He was right.

This is a weird lisa cartoon, which I saw on the icon of Youtube user, thingsicannotfindelsewhere.

This is a picture of my sister. Drawn from a photo taken on our ski trip.

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