San Francisco Streets

I’ve been spending some time painting outside with watercolor and my Sakura Microperm pen.  I definitely get into moods where ink + watercolor is the only way to capture the feeling of what’s in front of me.  I’ve always liked the ephemeral quality of watercolor mixed with the hard contrast of black ink . I feel like the pen captures the way my brain is communicating with my hand very directly. My watercolor is usually less controlled and finds it’s own way of landing and that is a big part of what I love about it.  It’s always a balancing act between control and letting go with confidence.  I hope you enjoy these and I’m sure there will be more.



The Lily Pond

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, The Lily Pond, Watercolor, 7.25″ x 5.25″, © 2016

I started this painting on a walk through Golden Gate Park when I came across a pond that I had never noticed before.  I’ve taken frequent walks through the park over the last 2 years and had walked around the left and to the right without seeing that just over the crest of a small hill there was a quiet and murky pond.  Being able to spend time in the park is so valuable to me.  It’s the place where I flesh out many of my thoughts about life while walking or stopping to watch and meditate.  And this small painting is a memory of that time watching and thinking below the pine and cypress trees.

Spontaneous Ink

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Fulton Street Blues and Reds, Watercolor, 5″ x 5″, © 2015

I’m still finding a great deal of enjoyment from working with ink and watercolor.  The combination of the two just feels like it can capture a spontaneous moment. The faster the work develops and the more bold the lines, the better the work feels.  I’m still building on the idea of my last blog that each painting can be an experiment and the more freely the medium is handled the more it feels like tapping directly into someones vision.

As always, thank you for reading and I always appreciate your likes and comments.

On Etsy: Fulton Street Blues and Reds

Holiday show in Richmond, CA

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey
Brian Bailey, Lines on Frederick St., Watercolor, 4″ x 4″, © 2015

I just dropped off this watercolor painting and a couple of others at BridgeMakerARTS in Richmond, CA for their holiday exhibition that will be up from December 5 through January 3. They have a great creative space and a community of artists on-site. If you are located in the Bay Area and would like to attend an artist reception, it will be on December 5 from 6-9 pm and they are located at:

23 Maine
Richmond, CA. 94804

Plein Air at McNee Ranch State Park

I woke up early yesterday and drove down the coast from San Francisco to take in the early morning hours at the foot of Mt. Montara and do some plein air painting.  I took pictures with my cell phone camera to help share the experience.  After a short climb up some steep trails with my easel and supplies in tow I settled on a spot where the sun was casting a shadow over the side of a hill dotted with trees.  Here is the spot with the lighting as I painted it.


And here is my basic setup for oil painting outdoors:


I forgot two important things on this outing, water and bug spray.  I should know by now that each of these can make painting much more pleasant but I still managed to really enjoy the day.

The sun was shining but with the Pacific Ocean just to the right of the picture and a bit of fog hanging around, I felt a chill and a coolness to the landscape so I started with an ultramarine blue underpainting to help relate the finished painting to how I experienced the morning.


Over the next couple of hours, I developed each section using the underpainting as a guide for value relationships and leaving small flakes of the underpainting exposed here and there in the final painting which took on a cool and shadowy feeling.


By the time I finished painting, the light had changed quite a bit and the hill in the foreground no longer had the large shadow cast over its side, as you can see here:


Changes in light, clouds, and weather present some special challenges to painting outside but I always try to keep in mind that I’m not copying what I’m seeing, I’m responding to it and the painting takes on a life of its own at some point.

This was my first trip to Mt. Montara at McNee Ranch State Park but I’ll definitely be going back for the beautiful views and relative seclusion from life in the city.  I’m finding that the bay area has quite a few nearby place where you can forget how close you are to a big city and explore nature.  I’m sure there will be more examples of plein air paintings in the coming weeks.  Thanks for reading and, always, thanks for your comments!

Returning to Oil

Oil Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, August Field, Oil on Canvas, 10″ x 8″, © 2015

I’ve been busy reacquainting myself with oil painting over the last couple of weeks and it feels great. I’ve even gotten out and done some plein air painting north of San Francisco. This first painting, August Field, was started that morning and finished at home.  I’m still focused on thinking in terms of composition and experimenting with how the elements of a painting support each other.  It really makes the whole painting process more enjoyable and engaging. I’m planning to continue oil painting on small canvases or panels like this one, experimenting with composition and, eventually, produce some larger works.  This second painting was produced from a photograph taken on the same morning of painting outdoors.

Oil Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Respite, Oil on Canvas, 10″ x 8″, © 2015

Exhibiting in Berkeley, CA

Collector Art Shop June Postcard

Yesterday, I dropped off 10 paintings for an exhibit at the Collector Art Shop in Berkeley, CA.  The group show goes up this weekend and is up until June 28. There is a reception on June 12 from 6 to 8 pm with live music by the Gerald Bryant Trio. The show includes work by Bay Area artists: Carol Aaron, Brian Bailey (me), Claude Convers, Becky Jaffe, Kay Marshall, Karen Mason, David Miller, and Mimi Williams. All are welcome to attend!

It feels really good to be a part of such an awesome Bay Area gallery and to see positive things coming together. Thank you to everyone for your help and support!