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 City at Night

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, San Francisco Night, Watercolor, 10″ x 8″, © 2016

For a while now, I’ve been visualizing how I could capture some of the feeling I get walking around San Francisco at night. The air feels cooler and the lights have a glow that reveals just a feeling of what’s there.  It reminds me of the light washes of water and color that, when they’re cooperating, give just a suggestion of what an artist might have seen and felt.

I’m always drawn to my watercolor trays like a moth to a flame but I mentioned last week that I’ve been oil painting, so below is one of the paintings I was referring to. The buildings are downtown on California Street along one of the cable car routes that runs through Chinatown.  I tried building up the surface, in spots, a bit more than I usually do and it occurred to me that an oil painting can sort of go on forever. I just mean, you can keep adding paint and the surface keeps growing until you reach that point where you’ve decided everything needed has been said and the painting is finished.  In contrast, I feel like I almost have to sneak up on a watercolor painting, building slowly or quickly and stopping as soon as something comes to life.  Of course, there are no rules for how to make a painting, just so many different ways to try.

Oil painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, California Street, Oil on Canvas, 8″ x 8″, © 2016

The watercolor, San Francisco Night, is available HERE on Etsy. I don’t have any of my oil paintings listed on Etsy yet, but if anyone is interested in any of the work on my blog or having a custom work created, please feel free to contact me through this blog or send me an email at  As always, thank you for being a part of this blog and supporting creativity!

Inspiration and Experimentation

Oil painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Crossing, Oil on Paper, 12″ x 16″, © 2015

My daily art production is often clearly directed to a particular subject, medium, and method but I feel that, often, it’s a good idea to take a diversion.  Sometimes changing my focus by just a few degrees can make a huge difference in how I feel about my work.  Experimenting with a new medium or method can be inspiring and lead to the development of new ideas.

My painting from today is was done in oil on paper and is of a street in downtown San Francisco.  I’ve been working with the idea of capturing how it feels to be in the city but I haven’t worked with oil on paper in a long time.  My first attempts were in a color and design class in college.  I remember enjoying how the oil could be added in thin layers of glaze to create subtle value and color shifts.  My approach today was similar.  I started with a drawing then moved to adding thin passages of color and then back to drawing.

What I like most about this painting was that it was an experiment.  I didn’t have any expectations of mastering a technique or making a grand statement.  The work is playful and that is the main thing that I’m taking away from today.  Keeping my process playful and experimental yields much better work than forcing an action.

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

I’ve been featured on Doodlewash!

Haight Ashbury-72dpi

Brian Bailey, Haight Ashbury, Watercolor, 7″ x 5″, © 2015

Just a quick update to share a watercolor painting that I did last week of the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco and to tell everyone that my work has been featured on the excellent blog, Doodlewash.  Here is a link to the article:

Doodlewash is written by Charlie O’Shields and he does a great job of sharing his own watercolors as well as the paintings and ideas of a variety of other watercolor artists. You can see more of Doodlewash at the following links:


Watercolor Sketch-1

Brian Bailey © 2015

Watercolor Sketch-2

Brian Bailey © 2015

I’ve been working on some watercolor sketches lately.  I’m starting with a pen and ink drawing and adding a limited amount of watercolor.  It’s an interesting exercise to go through each drawing and decide which areas to paint and what to leave alone.  Pretty happy with the results and hope to incorporate some of the sketch qualities into more finished paintings.  Thanks for looking!

Market Street, San Francisco

Watercolor Painting, Crossing Market

Brian Bailey, Crossing Market, Watercolor, 10″ x 8″, © 2015

Throughout this week and the last, I’ve been trying to put some new variations into my work.  I’ve been drawing and painting more people.  Some are gesture drawings or portraits focused on the human form and some are extensions of my paintings of San Francisco.  Some streets are teeming with people and it’s interesting to see how they change the feel and meaning of a painting. This painting is about 10 inches by 8 inches but I’ve also been working on some larger paintings and should have one to post next week.

I Can See The Light…

Watercolor Painting, Hayes Corner, Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Hayes Corner, Watercolor, 4″ x 4″, © 2015

When I walk around the city, my eyes seem to jump around to the hard cast shadows. It’s become a habit now that we are in the middle of spring. The sunlight and shadows make for interesting shapes and colors.  Visually, I’ve always been drawn to contrast and hard edges so I’m grateful for the sunshine while we have it. I’m still planning to make daily updates here and doing a new 4″ x 4″ watercolor painting each morning.   So far, it’s a nice routine and I really appreciate your views and comments.

The Search For More To Draw

Creativity is a challenge. An idea, even a tiny piece of a idea, can be very elusive. Sometimes sketches feel like having the right words on the tip of your tongue and being unable to grasp them.  So far, I’d say it’s best to keep moving forward, doing what I can to right the ship. It’s important to seek new information and be aware that at any moment, a piece can fall into place and your vision is back to making sense and feeling whole.  This morning I spent time looking through other artist’s websites and feel more focused. If anyone has ideas for creative or art based websites to check out, please share in the comments.

I spent quite a bit of time in my sketchbook this week with drawings of buildings in San Francisco’s Mission District, Cole Valley, and from around the house. Here are some of the results. I hope you enjoy them.


Weekly Sketchbook

I’ve decided that I am going to continue posting the drawings from my sketchbook..  I’m planning to make a new post at least once a week and include any new sketches.  I will also be putting up new paintings from time to time, so check back each week and feel free to leave comments.

Here is my sketchbook from last week.

Weekly Sketchbook3-24-15 3-25-15 3-28-15