Saturday, December 11, 2010

The New Pigments

I've often been deceived by watercolors once they dry out, they loose their saturation and a bit of value. I've read this almost in every book and blog, I thought it was something normal inherent to the medium, and that I was supposed to live with it, Until now... Few weeks ago, I was browsing, I was about to order papers and some new tubes... then the question came... I've always used Holbein since the very beginning, sometime W&N, Schmick but mostly Holbein. It was recommended by the famous Charles Reid, the price was cheap and it was made in Japan. All 3 elements to convince me this was good stuff. I got curious about other manufacturers, ended up my search on So I decided to try out M. Graham & Co. My stuff finally arrived, I threw out the old pigment, put all Graham in my palette and started painting. I was under the impression that the colors were much brighter than usual... but I wasn't sure... afraid of being under the placebo effect. But the next day, without her knowing that I had changed anything, my wife commented on the new painting, she talked mosltly about the unusual bright colors. Bingo! M. Graham & Co succeed the wife test.

So today I have 3 tips,

Watercolors : M. Graham & Co
Art Webstore:
Information about pigments:

With new pigments, come a new approach :) I just wanted to do some fun stuff, I like doing little stubby characters.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

5x7 Study

I was walking down FuZhou Lu, and found this skull in plaster. 22RMB(4USD), I grabbed it, it was still wet, not fully dry. FuZhou lu is probably my favorite street in Shanghai, it harbor many art shop, and books stores. For a tenth of what it could cost in any other city. I also found a Kazuo Oga art book. When I look at his stuff, I feel like trying some gouache.

5x7 Study

The more I do it, the more I realize that it's only now that I'm really serious about painting. Alla Prima's book has taught me things I wasn't even aware of. My biggest challenge is to identify value and hue with accuracy. I think I'll make myself 5 punched card of 5 different values, from white to black. So I can evaluate on the scene by looking thru the punched hole, what is the range of the value I'm seeing.

This is our Hotel Apartement.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shanghai Shanghai

Here are some of the little studies I've been doing recently, walking down the street until something get my attention, but then again, it need to be a suitable spot to sit or lean on something to paint. On my palette I'm carrying, Ultramarine, Phtalo Blue, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Cadmium & Yellow Lemon. Big focus on temperatures, I've discover interesting ways of making greys. I'm using a little block, Fabriano, 5x7 inches, 140lbs, grana fina, cp. 2010 is a year of progress for me, encouraging for what is coming next.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


During the last few weeks, I've read most of the book I was talking about, Alla Prima. I was very impatient to go out and try out some of the new discoveries I've found. Especially on color temperatures and ways of identifying colors with accuracy. I was excited to paint in Shanghai, new sceneries & the beautiful light of autumn. It was quite disappointing in fact. I find it very very hard these days to paint, because I have a lot of insight on what I was doing wrong, but also because now I'm more sensitive and aware of many aspect of painting (well i guess).  I will assume that the current setback is actually a good thing, trying to swallow huge chunk of informations, while my clumsy right brain is trying to make sense out of it.

One of the biggest misconception I had about painting was... "Get the value right, and it will look fine!" Wrong!!!  Well it will look ok, but not great, You also need to get your temperature contrast right, if you want your work to stand out. (unless you work in monochromatic, but this is not my lane).

This little "revolution" brought me back to the selection of colors I was using and even on their organization on my palette. Even thinking of designing my own palette. I used to skip the color theory chapter in every book I was reading. Big Mistake, I will practice at least twice a week to paint a color wheel, with variation in saturation and brightness. Using 3 primary colors, with a warm and cool version of each. Also I will restraint my outdoor paintings to 5x7 inches painting, to really focus on color identification and technical mixing.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Must Share

I would like to recommend a book, which has been recommended before me by Daisuke Tsutsumi. Alla Prima by Richard Schmid, It is a must have book for anyone serious about painting. Full of Ah-Ha! moment and revelations,  a cheap price to pay for the real value in it. The focus is not on technics, but more on various principles. Relevant to any medium you might choose.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Here we go again

I havent post recently, not because I'm not drawing/painting, I'm still. But mainly because I'm going thru a big change in my life at the moment. Things weren't working well at my job, so I resigned, ending an 11 years at Ubisoft, feels a lifetime. When I joined, I was single, no kid, clueless about art in general. I'm now married, 2 kids, lived in 4 differents country, slightly less clueless about art. I had good times at Ubisoft, learned a lot and met great peoples. But in order to continue to grow in the direction I want, I had to resign. In a few weeks I'll be relocating to Shanghai, for EA. Looking forward to it :) Shanghai has some of the best masters of chinese painting & sumi-e I'll sure join some classes there and pratice the oriental brushworks.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Plein air Singapore

Here are some on-site painting I did recently. both the same day. A bright sunny day, slightly hazy. While I was painting the statue of Raffles, a tourist stopped by and started talking... I quickly sent him away. That was rude, but I was proud. I cant talk while I paint, I'm trying hard to stay in the zone, I cant tolerate intruders. The incident threw me off anyway, you can see how the legs are.... bleh... So my advice to non-painter trying to make contact with a painter: Shut the fuck up and keep your distance, If you cant resist the urge to talk, wait till the job is done.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Once in a while

Once in a while, (for some unknown reasons, could be the alignment of the stars, or the breakfast you had 5 weeks ago),  you do a piece of work so strong to your eyes, that they become instant icons, or I should say a cornerstone of your journey. It's embedding all the qualities I've always wanted to put in a painting. It's the type of artwork that makes me jealous of other artists. I would have seen it a gallery show, and I would've said... "oh I wish I could do something as powerfully as that!" Well today, I take a rest and content myself with this piece. It's a proof of progress in this journey, and there is nothing sweeter as a feeling. Acquiring skills, this is what it is all about. Now... have to improve from this cornerstone!

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Meet Geoffrey

A very nice session today. I'm quite pleased with the output. But the real surprise was after the session, when models usually run away. Geoffrey sat outside with us, and dived into the pleasures of alcohol & tobacco. Drinks in hands, we talked about a myriad of things. His traveling adventures, my blog, the inability of frenchmen to fluenty speak a foreign language. Later on, a thought rose in my mind. Our next session has already started, my next drawings of him are already in progress. But from the inside out this time. Quite a character he is, poised gentleman, polyglot, ex royal navy, master diver, cigar afficionados... He could have said 007 I would have believed it, but he prefered to qualify himself as... Kong Long.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

A tough but rewarding session.

So, as you may know, I've opened up my private session to friends and other artists seeking the thrill of life drawing. Yesterday, a bunch of frriends came along, with Xu Hui. I've setted up the lighting and all. Unfortunely my currents skills doenst allow me to portay the dramatic effect we had. Another attempt, not shown here for ego reasons, blatantly failed when I tried to use strong colors. I got myself a bunch of watersoluble oil tube. It's supposed to handle exactly like oil, without the hassle of oil, no smell, easy cleaning with water and soap. I'll give it a try stay tuned.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Night Ambiance

French Ultramarine Blue, Phtalo Blue, Phtalo Green, Hooker Green & Burnt Sienna

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dark Complexion for Frazetta

I got this idea recently to make a tribute to Frazetta, my idea is to paint a Zulu Warrior (inspired by a TV show I was watching when I was kid... long long time ago). For me this hommage need to be grande, so It has to be the biggest canvas I've ever painted. Putting into it, almost, everything I've learned about the craft of picture making. I did studies, dust off my Bridgman collection, made capture of the TV Show, download hundred of pictures of the work of Frazetta. Eventually I started drawing. Then only I started panicking. I never painted a black person, succesfully. The skin seems dark, but in fact highly reflective, sligthly mosturized, it will make the darkest Senegalese bright and blue like the sky. I couldn't wrap my head around this complex problem. I looked at few frazetta for an answers, but in most case he relied on 1 or 2 colors with strong emphasis on value and reflection. But I dont want to go the monochrome way. On my desk I have a figurine of a Masai girl, and I started doing some test with her. I end up using alizarin, brunt umber, cobalt and ultramarine blue.

The figurine is done by Spencer Davis, look at his website.

Here is the Zulu himself, heavy and thick a la Frazetta. The paper is a full sheet of Arches Watercolors Paper. His right hand (too small at the moment will hold a spear). I will post my progress from time to time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Life Drawing Session

Oye Oye!

Starting next week, I will transform my living room, into an art studio. I will conduct life drawing in the evenings,
and week end for the next 4 weeks. This will be open to the public at a rate of 25$ for 3 hours. This is not a  class, bring your own material(except oil and acrylics).

Different types of session are going to be available.

- Nude Long poses (3 poses of 1 hour each)
- Nude Various poses (1min, 5min, 10min, 20min.)
- Portrait (Dramatic Lighting)

Stay tuned, I will give details soon.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday Night Life Drawing

The Last pose of the session. I mostly focus on contour drawing I wasn't in the zone at all. At the end of the session, something snapped... and here is the result.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cheating a bit...

It does feel good to change medium. I've been inspired a lot lately by Dice Tsutsumi, his website and the artbook of Toy Story 3. I really like his lighting and colors tone. Vibrant and full of life. Anyway I just wanted to do something different. So I've downloaded Painter 11, and used the Pastel brush. The superman design is a very old little sketch I did some time ago.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Some recent stuff

So I was exploring different things, new pigment, such as hooker green & mineral violet. I also tried to fix the elephant, while I think it's a more successful sketch, there are still  many things that annoy me about this piece. But as Robert Henri said, never throw a piece until you understand what isn't working.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Phtalo Green Jungle

I never liked phtalo green, mainly due to my ignorance on how to use it. The color always felt too vibrant and unatural to my taste. Remember me the felt pen kids use. But today, I discovered mixed with Venise Red and Burnt Sienna, you can get very interesting greys, At some point I really needed a dark value, the only way to get it (without adding an intrusive hue) was to mix ultramarine and phtalo green. For the very first time, I did a value thumbnail sketch before painting. I have to admit, it was a true help.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday session

We had a new model for monday, it's always nice to get a change. She posed marvelously. I tried various technics, and some poses using just pencil lines, delineating the silhouette emphasizing only what I felt necessary. The first drawing at the bottom, suddenly hit me when I reached home, the whole body type remembered me an old photo of Simone de Beauvoir took by Art Shay. The pose is different, but it could've been her.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A trip to Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea is the nickname I gave to Tioman Island in Malaysia. Principally because this is the only thing I've been drinking for 4 days, only to stop while I was sleeping or snorkeling. If I had a device to feed me with LIIT during snorkeling I would probably have rented it too.Yeah you can call me a drunk.  But out of this drinking-bout, I tried what J.S.Sargent would have done,  seizing the moment with water and pigment.