Light in the Storm

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Light in the Storm, Watercolor, 7″ x 5″, © 2015

I’m still working on some oil paintings but always find some time for watercolor.  I’ve been exploring watercolor paintings on Instagram and there are so many inspiring artists out there.  I love the way ink and watercolor washes look on paper.  Something about the sharp contrast of ink and the subtle color shifts of watercolor create a kind of visual poetry that I find very compelling.

I started this painting while on a walk in downtown San Francisco and finished experimenting with the washes of color yesterday.  If anyone is interested, here is a link to this painting available on Etsy:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/257793970/san-francisco-watercolor-painting-light

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Cold

Watercolor Painting, Overcast

Brian Bailey, Overcast, Watercolor, 8″ x 10″, © 2015

I started another painting outside today and finished it this evening.  It was a colder day and I used a lot of ultramarine blue and burnt umber to reflect the “greyness.”

A New Surface

Lines on Blue

Brian Bailey, Lines on Blue, Watercolor on Yupo, 4″ x 4″ © 2015

My painting today is the result of experimenting with watercolor on Yupo paper. Yupo isn’t actually paper at all, but a machine-made sheet of polypropylene that artists have been experimenting with for several years now.  So far, I’m a fan of Yupo and the fact that it’s non-absorbent.  As paint dries on the surface, it moves around and settles in interesting patterns.  I like the feeling of letting go and the slight lack of control over the finished product.  Also, if you find the result unsatisfying, you can wipe it away with paper towel or smear it and make new patterns.  I will most likely be sharing more paintings on Yupo in the near future.  Please let me know what you think!

Consciousness

It can be difficult to find your way into a painting or anything that you put a piece of yourself into.  Self doubt and the urge to keep things safe and the same can be hard to overcome. Letting go of control accounts for most of the paintings that I feel good about but letting go is such a slippery skill to work on.  The moment you think about it, it’s gone, run over by self-consciousness and doubt.

This is a topic that runs back quite a few years in my mind, to drawing classes in college where I first began to let go of self-consciousness and create without effort.  It’s funny how years later, consciousness can be just as slippery and mysterious.  And it’s still the most important part of creativity, to me.  Lately, I feel like I’ve been more plugged in to the creative process and more able to let go.  It may be that I’m growing more familiar with my materials and the process of painting.  But it feels like I’m reconnecting with some of the energy that I felt years ago in those first drawing classes… It feels good and here is one of my paintings from this week.

December Storm

Original available at ArtFromBrian on Etsy.

Trees, Houses, and my Etsy store

Again, I find myself walking around San Francisco and feeling amazed by the structure and detail of the houses.  The craftsmanship and knowledge of the people that designed and built them is incredible to me.  They give off a feeling of quality and history.  The streets tell the stories of so many people that once lived here.  I recently discovered that the public library has photographic records of the city dating back to the 1800’s and I find the hours slip away while I try to wrap my head around the amount of change and, occasionally, how similar things are.

Another thing about San Francisco that captivates me is the trees.  Trees, plants, and flowers seem to spring up from everywhere.  The moisture in the air and, usually, generous sunlight seem to account for a great variety of healthy plant-life, though the fern in my apartment seems to disagree.  After a year of living here, I’m still a little unsure of how the seasons affect the trees and flowers.  As some are losing their leaves, others seem to be coming into bloom.  After spending most of my life in places that get tons of snow and cold, the weather and plants are inspiring.

And this leads to my most recent project.  I’ve spent most of the last month putting together my store on Etsy.com called ArtFromBrian, where I have most of the watercolor paintings featured in this blog and several others for sale.

If you have some time, click HERE for a link to my store. Thank you to everyone for your support.

And here is a painting of houses and trees on Page Street that I finished this week:

A Space and Trees

Momentum

It has been another very good week of drawing, painting, and figuring things out. I moved one step closer to setting up an online store with etsy to sell my paintings by finding a company that makes fine quality giclee prints.  I ordered test prints of 5 images to see how they look in person before offering them for sale. Once they are in my hands and I can attest to their quality, I’m going to open up my store where I’m planning to sell prints and original paintings.  It feels good to put the pieces together and keep things moving.

I spent more hours than usual on one particular painting this week and I’m happy with the result. As usual, San Francisco provided the inspiration.  The houses and streets in my neighborhood offer so many interesting shapes and colors.  Here are two stages of the image, as a drawing and a finished painting. Thank you for looking!

HousesHouses Page St

Life After Semester at Sea

It has been almost two months since Katy and I returned from our voyage with Semester at Sea and the experience has had a great deal of impact on my point of view.  Interestingly, it’s difficult to put my finger on exactly what’s different.  Little things jump out at me about the U.S. that I never noticed before.  There’s a lot of stuff like the pace of a meal at a restaurant or the size of an automobile that stand out and, while I don’t think these are hugely important differences, they make me think about how invisible certain parts of my own culture have been to me. Overall, I think that the experience has made me more open to new ideas and more observant of life in my own country. The world is an incredibly diverse and interesting place and I hope to see even more of it going forward.

I’ve been wanting to post a few more of the paintings that I did near the end of our voyage and I’d like to say that I’ve been so busy that I couldn’t find the time but, in truth, I haven’t been sure of what to say.  Overall, it was an amazing and eye opening experience that I am very grateful to have participated in. And I’m very happy that I shared some of that experience on this blog. Thanks go out to all of you that read along and those that posted such nice comments. Going forward, I’d like to keep this blog alive with some posts of the drawings and paintings that I’m currently working on.

Here are a few of the works that stood out as my favorites from the end of our trip.

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Returning Home

We are a little over half of the way across the Atlantic and scheduled to arrive Boston on August 18. I think that everyone on our voyage has had a lot to reflect on in the last few days. Our time has gone by so quickly, being filled with activity almost every day. It has been an excellent chance to see a new part of the world firsthand and let new experiences shape our view of the world.

Some of the time, perhaps this happened the most in Barcelona, I felt that our surroundings were very similar to what you would find in a major U.S. city. There were lots of restaurants, beautiful buildings, and friendly people wherever we wandered. Everything was different enough to be very interesting but still felt familiar and inviting.

On the other end of the spectrum, I felt almost completely lost in Morocco. There were small things that looked familiar, like an oddly placed Pizza Hut near the Medina in Casablanca or an equally out of place shopping mall on the outskirts of the city. Mostly though, it was a very different place where it seemed almost impossible that commerce or even traffic could possibly work given the cramped streets and millions of people. But people find a way, as foreign as it might feel to an outsider from across the globe people find a way to flourish.

Being fairly passive in consideration of the idea, it’s easy to assume that everyone in the world thinks and feels roughly the same way about life that you do. But throughout our travels, I saw people of different beliefs and backgrounds all living ways of life that were just right for them. Overall, this journey has made me realize that the world is way bigger and more diverse than I ever considered. It has also made me consider what it means to be from the United States. I feel a stronger connection to being an American. The U.S. is much more unique and dear to me than I ever realized. That being said, it has been an amazing summer in some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

Here is one of the latest paintings that I’ve done while aboard the ship. When we get home and have good internet, I’ll be posting some larger groups of work from throughout the voyage.

Portugal

It has been a while since I’ve found sufficient Internet access to post anything and now I find myself with this very limited access but no images of my recent paintings. Just the same, we are having a great day in Estoril, just outside of Lisbon, and with a bit of luck, I’ll post a picture of the beautiful shoreline. We are leaving for Boston in two days and I’ll do my best to post some images from the ship. It’s sad to see our voyage coming to an end but we are both looking forward to being home to see friends and family.

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Istanbul

We departed from Istanbul a few days ago and are now sailing to Morocco where we look forward to visiting an orphanage, having dinner with a Moroccan family, and exploring on our own.  Our time in Turkey was incredible.  We started in the old part of the city where we saw the Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Spice Market, and beautiful Mosques around every corner.  The call to prayer is broadcast over loudspeakers throughout the day and sounds both striking and melodic.

Our visit took place during Ramadan, so many people were fasting during the day.  One night, quite by chance, we were in an area near the Blue Mosque when people began to gather, thousands of people.  At first, we were unsure what the occasion was but at sundown there was an announcement and everyone began eating together for the first time all day.  It was an amazing moment to experience and throughout our time I was impressed by how frequently I would see something beautiful and unexpected.

Our last day was spent outside of Istanbul, hiking with a guide near the village of Hacili.  The countryside was beautiful and it was nice to get out of the city for a while.  Along the way, we hiked through a rocky riverbed, along steep drop-offs, and even saw a small waterfall.  The country was rugged, healthy and reminded me quite a lot of the forests back in New York.  The hike itself was pretty strenuous and I think most of the people in our group had a feeling of accomplishment when we finally reached the end.

Thoughts of Istanbul have given me plenty of material for painting.  Certain forms, like paths that cross, are recurring in my work and I enjoy seeing how they change and lead me to other discoveries.  In addition to painting I’ve been reading a lot while aboard the ship and I feel like this has been one of the most productive times I’ve ever had as an artist.  I’m going to continue painting now and hope you enjoy a few of my recent works.

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