Saturday, November 30, 2013

David Hockney: Always distinctive and versatile

"David Hockney was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1937 to a working class family. He went on to a prize-winning career as a student at the Royal College of Art. It was there that he met fellow artists such as R.B. Kitaj, Peter Philips and Patrick Caulfield, who were to become stars of the British Pop Art Scene. By his mid-20s, Hockney had already become one of the most critically acclaimed contemporary artists in Britain. At only 26 he had his first one-man show and in 1967 was awarded first prize in the John Moores Exhibition.
Hockney worked in a variety of fields as a painter, draughtsman, printmaker, photographer and designer. As well as the versatility of his work, he is also known for his exuberant personality, easily recognisable with his trademark circular specs. Although he rejected the label 'Pop', much of his work contains references to popular culture and contains a good deal of humour. The Californian swimming pool was one of his favourite subjects, indicating his love-affair with Los Angeles and most memorably featured in the painting 'A Bigger Splash' (1967). In the Seventies his style became more traditional with a series of portraits of couples such as 'Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy' (1970-1971) and ‘My Parents’.
Hockney is also a celebrated graphic artist, etching illustrations to Cavafy's Poems (1967) and Six Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1969) for example, as well as individual prints often on homoerotic themes. In the 1970s he became popular as a stage designer for productions such as Stravinsky's 'The Rake's Progress' (1975) and Mozart's 'The Magic Flute' (1978) both at Glyndebourne. Photography was Hockney's main preoccupation in the 1980s, with his experimentation of complex, Cubist-like photomontages, but throughout his career painting remained his prime concern.
Picasso was one of Hockney's role models in his demonstration of creative freedom and original thinking. "Style is something you can use, and you can be like a magpie, just taking what you want. The idea of the rigid style seemed to me then something you needn't concern yourself with, it would trap you." David Hockney. In addition to his art, Hockney has also published two books on art, David Hockney on David Hockney (1976) and That's the Way I See It (1993). "
My parents, 1977
Peter getting out of Nick's pool, 1966
The road to York through Sledmere, 1997
For more painting information, please go to David Hockney

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 3: Photo Ideas-Tasty Food Photography

I've been playing with my Cannon EOS T2i for three years. It's a really good SLR camera for beginners, not expensive, light and high quality. Some of my professional friends told me that having a high-end camera doesn't really matter compared with having the great lens. So I followed their advice as a kindergarten kid. The lens that has both wide angle and large aperture is my preference, so I bought Cannon 17-40mm f/4.0. This lens was becoming my favorite tool when shooting portrait and landscape. To get superb wide angle effect and appearance out of focus background, I can zoom in and out by adjusting the aperture and essentially I don't have to change my lens to achieve different effects. Nonetheless, I admit that if you want the sharply defined image with nicely blurred background 17-40mm wouldn't win the medal. For newbies and people who like photographing but don't have money to store different types of lens, Canon 17-40 mm f/4.0 is my first recommendation.

Speaking of shooting food, it's a easy but tough job. For easy, the object is still and well-displayed, and mostly indoor. For tough, natural light is not always sufficient and focus could be so soft that the picture doesn't deliver the meaning what photographer wants.

Here are some food photography I've taken:

Copyright by Yubin Wang Photography

Copyright by Yubin Wang Photography

Copyright by Yubin Wang Photography

More food photograph, please visit my portfolio

Food photography is always fun as you get to eat the subjects after you've taken the shots. I'm going to show you a few simple photography tips.

Use natural light

Natural light can be lovely for food shots but you need a lot of it to bring you color and contrast. By shooting next to a large window or consider to take your dishes outside to photograph them.

Better flash

A flashgun can supply the light you need, but it's prone to producing "specular lights"(unwanted small, very bright spots).Try bouncing the flash off a sheet of white card instead of firing it directly at the food.


It's usually best to be minimal with composition but a couple of props, such as quality crockery or fine cutlery, can add to the shot. Use them sparely and choose items that suit the mood you're aiming to convey.

Go geometric

Strong geometric shapes work well, so keep this in mind when cutting food and arranging it together on the plate prior to shooting.

Add garnish

Blandly colored food, such as bowls of pasta, can look particularly unappetizing. An easy way to liven up less visually interesting dishes is to simply add some colorful garnish

White Balance

Different manual White Balance setting, such as Daylight, Cloudy, Shade and Tungsten, can add trendy color casts to make shots look more dynamic.

Selective focus

A small depth of filed, where only a small part of the dish is in focus, can work really well. Use a macro or long telephoto lens at a wide aperture for best results.

Bump up the color

For real color impact, increase the saturation setting in a Custom Picture Style, or do this after the event in a program such as Digital Photo Professional or Photoshop Elements.

Hot shots

If food is supposed to look hot, it should be steaming. Get everything set up first so that you're ready to shoot food straight from the oven.

For more information, please visit Photography Tips

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Edward Hopper: The Color of Light

Currently, Dallas Museum of Arts is hosting a exhibition-Hopper Drawing:A painter's process, which shows the drawing process of the American realist artist, Edward Hopper.

Edward Hopper was born in New York. His art works have been described as calm, silent, stoic, luminous, and classic.

In one of his most famous piece, Nighthawks, four customers and a waiter are in a bright diner in the evening. He created it during the wartime, and many people thought the four customers were blocked by the waiter and the world outside, which demonstrated the feeling of most americans during that time.

1942 Nighthawks

In the exhibition of Dallas Museum of Arts, the creative process of Morning Sun is on the show. You get to see the painting the way the artist did when he'd just put down his brush.

1952 Morning Sun

1932 Room in New York

1951 Rooms by the Sea
1940 Gas
1940 Office at Night
1939 New York Movie

1929 Chop Suey
For more painting information please visit Edward Hopper Gallery and Dallas Museum of Arts

"To me the most important thing is the sense of going on. You know how beautiful things are when you're traveling.”-Edward Hopper

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 2: Still life, pencil 18X24

This drawing in pencil was finished in this summer at home. I put an empty bottle, a flour bag and an apple on the table, and made the light coming from the left side. The room was pretty dark. As the light was shooting right beside the subjects, the transition of values were weak.The pencil I was using was HB pencil, which couldn't help me add more values in the shading process.

Practicing still life is always fun to me, for it teaches me how to see and observe the objects from an artist perspective. All you need are a 2B pencil, an eraser and cartridge paper.

Here are some very useful still life techniques in

Step 1: Starting the Still Life Drawing

Step 1: Starting the Still Life Drawing
TECHNIQUE: In any still life, you should start to draw the objects as if they are transparent wire frame forms with visible lines of construction. This technique helps you to be fully aware of the shape of each individual form and its position in relation to the other forms. It is important to sketch the objects lightly as this makes it easier to change any mistakes and erase any lines of construction.
NOTE: This see-through drawing technique uses vertical and horizontal lines of construction to help you to draw convincing ellipses and to balance the symmetry of cylindrical forms.

Step 2: Creating an interesting composition

Step 2: Creating an Interesting Composition
TECHNIQUE: When composing a still life, try to introduce the qualities that make an interesting arrangement. You need to be aware of the abstract structure of your arrangement: its rhythms and contrasts of line, shape, tone, color, pattern, texture and form.
NOTE: A transparent wire frame approach to sketching the still life helps you to organize the composition of the group. It makes it easier to see the shape, position and proportions of each object in relation to its neighbours.

Step 3: Erasing the lines of construction

Step 3: Cleaning up the Image
TECHNIQUE: Once you are happy with the shape, proportion and composition of the still life, you can erase the lines of transparent construction. This will leave you with an accurate visible outline of each form and the confidence that all the objects are positioned correctly. You are now ready to work on the details of each object.

Step 4: Adding the details in line

Step 4: Adding the Details in Line
TECHNIQUE: Now lightly sketch in the shapes of any shadows or reflections onto each object.
NOTE: The more care you take over the accuracy of these marks, the easier you will find the next stage of the drawing - the Application of Tone.

Step 5: Shading Technique - 1

Step 5: Shading Technique Stage 1
TECHNIQUE: The tone of our still life is built up in four stages outlined in steps 5 - 8. In this step, some basic tones are lightly applied to each object to help build up its three dimensional form.

Step 6: Shading Technique - 2

Step 6: Shading Technique Stage 2
TECHNIQUE: The second stage in building up the tone focuses on the spaces between and around the objects.
NOTE: The drawing of the light and shade between the objects must be treated with as much importance as the drawing of the objects themselves. The shadows cast beneath and around the objects add as much to the definition of their shapes as does the shading on their surfaces. Notice how the counter-change of tones between the objects and the spaces takes over from the use of line to define the forms of the still life.

Step 7: Shading Technique - 3

Step 7: Shading Technique Stage 3
TECHNIQUE: In the third stage of building up the tone, you focus back on the objects. This time you deepen their tone, increasing the contrast between the areas of dark and light. This will enhance the form of the objects and increase the impact of the image.
NOTE: The biggest problem at this stage is maintaining a balance of tones across the whole still life so that no object appears too dark or too light. You are searching for a unity of tone and form.

Step 8: Shading Technique - 4

Step 8: Shading Technique Stage 4
TECHNIQUE: Finally, you focus again on the spaces between the objects, deepening their tones and increasing their contrast.
NOTE: You need to be careful in balancing the tonal values of the objects and the spaces between them to ensure that you create a unified image.
THE FINISHED STILL LIFE: The completed still life should work on two levels: as a realistic representation of the group of objects and as a dynamic composition of visual elements, harmonizing and contrasting the use of line, shape and tone.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Drawing as Monastic Practice: Steven Assael at Forum Gallery

Here is an article from Huffpost Arts & Culture:

The original article

Forum Gallery| Steven Assael

A collection of drawings by Steven Assael is on display right now at Forum Gallery in Manhattan. Assael is universally known by high-technique figurative painters working in the United States today, among whom his skills are legendary.
Suyeon Lee 2013, graphite and crayon on paper, 14" x 10.75"
Consider three types of people who might wander into this show. First you have people completely ignorant of the topics of contention in contemporary art. This audience will unselfconsciously enjoy the work, because it consists of very beautiful drawings of people, and such viewers have not been instructed that beautiful drawings of people are now claimed to be wanted.

A second type of person comes to this show. This person, like me, is aware of the topography of contemporary art and has chosen to cast their lot, for better or worse, with the figurative artists. We will very likely cast a critical eye on the show, because our very hands know the innards of Assael's technique. But on the whole, we will tend to enjoy his show, because he is spectacularly good at what he does. And whatever else we get from work, we get a lot from talent married to skill.

A third type of person comes to this show. This person is a partisan of the trends in art after 1970 or so. They have doctrinal issues with talent, skill, and highly rendered figurative work. To them, all of this work looks obsolete and "photographic." It is not bad -- well, it is bad -- but mainly, it is irrelevant.
Figure Reclining with Glasses 2013, graphite and crayon on paper, 14" x 18"

Let me talk to all three of these types of person as they may have come upon this article, but chiefly to the third. My goal in reading art criticism is sometimes to understand more deeply the things I already like, but often it is to expand the range of things I can see -- that I can really see. I frequently read writers in the third category. I want them to speak to me, and I want to speak to them.

A thing I have noticed about people in the third category is that they are often very astute about subtle distinctions and developments in representational art from the dawn of time to 1945. But a blindness afflicts them in applying the same set of aesthetic considerations to work that is new. The obsolete/photographic filter kicks in, and the gaze turns away.

Let's say you are one of these people, and that you mirror me -- like me, you want to be able to see more. Let's say that the intellectual development of art precludes your resuscitation of any of the old questions to which an artist like Assael may dedicate himself. What does he have to say to you? How can you even begin to approach him?

I turn to my own experience as an artist, which is not a question of history or philosophy, but of my individual life, improvised now. Knowing what I know about how I have made my work, I recognize what Assael is up to. I believe there is a door for you here. Consider part of a monologue that Andrey Tarkovsky gives his main character, Alexander, in his final film,The Sacrifice (1986):

Once, you know, a very long time ago, an elder in a monastery... stuck a dry tree into a mountain. He commanded his novice -- Ioann Kolov -- it was a Russian orthodox monastery -- to water this tree every day until it came to life.
And each day, over the course of many years, Ioann filled his bucket each morning with water and set off on his way. It took him all day, from sunrise to sunset, to carry one bucketful into the hills. Each morning Ioann would set off uphill with his bucket of water; he watered this stem, and each evening, when it was already dark, he would return to his monastery. So it went for three whole years. And then, one fine day, he ascended the mountain and saw: the tree was completely covered -- every inch -- with flowers!
What do we learn from this? Alexander, a materialist by inclination, draws one moral:
Say what you like, method and system are things of key importance! You know, sometimes I think that if I perform exactly the same action, every day, at exactly the same time -- as though a ritual -- systematically and without deviation, each day, and invariably at the very same time, the world will change! Something will change!
Alexander concludes that the purpose of this repetition is its ability to change the world. He is not incorrect, but I think his perspective is very partial. The procedure he is reasoning about, even though he does not clearly grasp it, is prayer. I use prayer here very broadly; I am not only talking about church prayer and synagogue prayer, but about walking your dog, or going to yoga, or practicing meditation, or throwing twenty fruits and vegetables in your juicer in the morning. These all answer to a crucial human need: to anchor time, and in the anchoring, to break free of the petty chaos of total selfhood, reaching toward some ideal greater than the self. Many ideals will do: god, family, health, serenity, empathy.

This is what Assael is doing. He draws all the time. He is working toward two ideals: excellence and insight. The first ideal -- excellence -- is defined with regard to material technique. This is the ideal of talent married to skill. How does one draw a muscle, or a certain tautness or slackness of skin? How does one foreshorten a bone, or depict each kind of cloth in its turn? How does one portray where the reflection of light is most intense, and where the shadows settle deepest? How does one distribute white, grey, and black over a flat surface, so that they interface with grace, and invite the eye to look?
Julie Holding Glass 2011, graphite and crayon on paper, 18" x 14"
The second ideal -- insight -- has to do with his relation to the people he draws. In his mute way, he treasures them. A lot of life drawing aspires to the extraordinarily difficult level of drawing bodies as objects. Assael aspires to the more difficult goal of drawing bodies as people. His work deviates radically from what he sees, groping along the contours of the personhood before him, and rendering that personhood as a physical phenomenon -- a seen thing. But what he depicts is not the form of the flesh, it only correlates with it. As is the case with many artists who follow this path, he has found a counterpart who resonates particularly with the texture of his insight. His model Julie sits for him again and again, and endlessly fascinates him. In her, he is able most clearly to see the entire humanity for which he thirsts.
Julie Facing 2013, graphite and crayon on paper, 14" x 11"
But these are his ideals, not his daily experience. What is his daily experience?

Consider again Ioann Kolov, the monk with the bucket of water. Can you imagine he was so saintly that he didn't have a purpose in mind with all that watering? Of course he did; the flowers, when they came, were no surprise. He had pictured them every day, he yearned for the flowers. But the importance of his act was in the faith, in walking over parched land to a dead tree every day for years, with no evidence coming of the reward, which retreated like a mirage. He kept walking, until the walking was its own reward, until he made himself over as the saint who was not in it for the flowers. And then, on the day that he finally no longer walked to get flowers, on that day the flowers came.
This is what Assael does. Like Ioann Kolov, he spends all day walking up and down the mountain. His tree has long since grown its flowers, but he continues; anyone carrying out a process of such sustained intensity does it in large part for how it transforms not the world, but himself. Assael draws as a form of spiritual purification. It gives his life order and meaning. He renews his faith through his drawing, and cleanses himself of his fears and his sins. The goal of his drawing is scarcely the drawing. The drawing is the substrate of the bonds between Assael and himself, and his people, and his world, and his god.
Alex with Patterned Shirt 2013, graphite and crayon on paper, 14" x 10.75"
Well, why should we bother to look at that? Because that is all art has ever been. Real art is the byproduct of a conscious process that transcends it, but which is encoded in it, and accessible to the viewer who makes the pilgrimage to it. That is its mighty power. Art is not color, shape, line, and value. Art is not an idea. Just as flesh and time are the garments of the soul, formal elements and ideas are the garments of art. Art is not meant to be looked at, but through. Once you open its door, you will find in art a thing made of the same transcendental medium as yourself. This is as true of the monastic discipline of a Steven Assael as it is of the rigorous formalism of a Donald Judd. If you can see this blinding revelation in the Judd, you have everything you need to see it in the Assael. And if you do not see it in the Judd, you are not getting enough out of your experience of art. But you can. It is still only morning, the doors are everywhere, and the prospects are good.

All images courtesy of Forum Gallery

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 1: New York Skyline, watercolors 12X9

Honestly, the first post took me almost three days to start. I've never created a blog like this and I'm not a art pro. Instead of struggling with what words I should put in, I decided to type what I want to say and keep it simple and sincere.

The picture above was painted last year right before the Christmas. I was about to travel to New York City where I'm always passionate about. Due to the holiday sales at Michael's, I bought an artist tool kit that included some brushes, sample of watercolors and acrylics, a small pallet and crayons. At that point, I was going to visit my friend who just arrived in New York and giving him a self-painted gift would be a wonderful idea.

By searching several New York skyline in Google, I surprisingly found out amazing artworks of an artist, Jessica Durrant. Her painting was so romantically modern and colorfully enthusiastic that I decided to copy her techniques. Since it was the first time to do watercolor, I couldn't control the time when the color started to dry up. You can see my work not as fluent as it should be, especially the dark mess in the middle. Also the proportion of the color and water is essential and with time passing by the color will be fading away a little bit. Putting a dark blue a week ago could give you just a blue afterward. The most difficult part of watercolor painting is that you can't erase what you've done.You can only fix it like carefully dipping more water on the original painting but the color would turn into something else you may not like.

It only took my two hours to get it done and didn't cost me too much watercolor paints.I like the way I drew the outline with the black pen and the tone of the illustration. For some reason, my friend disliked my work so it is just hanging on the wall in my bedroom. Couple days ago, someone wanted to pay me $3 for my first-amateurish watercolor painting as an "you can sell your artwork for a living" encouragement. I turned him down though. I thought my work worth more than a piece of green paper, it showed the starting point on the path to a great artist.

The pictures below are the artist tool kit.

Here is the link of Jessica's website: