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.

 

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Outside in the Now

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Pathway, Watercolor, 7.25″ x 5.25″, © 2016

Over the last month, I’ve spent many hours walking through Golden Gate Park and finding quiet spots to draw and paint.  For the painting at left, I had forgotten my pencils so it was started without any drawing as a guide.  This is unusual for me, but I’m happy that I forgot them.  Making an alteration to the way I work can sometimes feel like waking up.  We can become very mechanical in the way we create and in our expectations. Something as simple as forgetting pencils and being forced to solve a problem in a new way can be very helpful at unhitching the past from our consciousness.

 

 

 

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Lucent Grove, Watercolor, 7.25″ x 5.25″, © 2016

 

 

It’s constantly difficult to let go of preconceived notions about what I should be doing. Do my paintings look enough like others that have been successful?  Am I using color in a way that makes sense? A litany of questions can float up into my mind like bubbles from soapy water, but I think the way forward is to pop them and focus in tightly on exactly what’s in front of me. Painting and life both feel best when I’m tuned in to the present.

 

 

 

 

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Golden Landing, Watercolor, 7.25″ x 5.25″, © 2016

 

During my walks in the park, I like to find quiet spots and practice breathing with intention.  I don’t follow a specific meditation practice but have compiled my own experiences and the words of many teachers to find my way into consciousness.  It can be very slippery and doesn’t always result in a great calm or flow state but, when it does, it can be very powerful.  All the weight of the past and the expectations of the future can be dissolved and I cannot think of a better way to enter into the creative play of painting or anything else that comes from the heart.

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.

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 theartofbrian@gmail.com.  As always, thank you for being a part of this blog and supporting creativity!

A New Year

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Golden Gate Park, Watercolor, 5″ x 7″, © 2016

To start off the new year, here are two watercolor paintings that I finished in the last couple of days.  Golden Gate Park and the streets of San Francisco continue to fuel me with inspiration.  I’ve also been back to painting in oil and will likely to post some of that work next week.  Over the last year, I have been surprised by how important and inspirational other people can be.  And, as I look ahead to 2016, one of my major goals is to listen better and spend more time learning from the work and words of others.  I hope everyone else’s year is off to a great start and thank you for all of your likes and comments from 2015.

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, The Walk, Watercolor, 10″ x 8″, © 2016

Time

 

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Cable Car on Powell, Watercolor, 5″ x 7″, © 2015

The interactions of lines and shapes with light and shadow often catch my eye and lead me to think of where life is taking us. A quiet street and quiet shapes blanketed with sagging wires makes me start to wonder. Is there really anything to worry about? A part of what I see today in the shapes and shadows is a reminder of what happened in that spot and every other spot 50 years ago. 100 years ago. 1000. Why do quiet old roads that lead up hills feel so important to me? Maybe they’re a surrogate for how I feel about the life I’m living or maybe they’re just reminders that life marches forward over tragedy and victory and happiness and crying and quiet.

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Shadows of North Beach, Watercolor, 5″ x 7″, © 2015

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

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.

New Watercolor and New Social Media

Watercolor Painting by Brian Bailey, Shadow of St. Patrick

Brian Bailey, Shadow of St. Patrick, Watercolor, 5″ x 7″, © 2015

I spent a morning walking downtown and came up with this watercolor of the St. Patrick Church in San Francisco.  I love walking in the morning and seeing the city come to life.  If anyone is interesting in this painting, here is a link to the listing in my Etsy store: www.etsy.com/listing/255706201/san-francisco-watercolor-painting-shadow

I also want to share links to my new Facebook and Instagram pages. I’ve been planning to start both for quite some time and now you are all welcome to be a part of them.  Please feel free to comment, like, and share.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/artistbrianbailey/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theartofbrian/

Thank you to everyone for all of your past comments and encouragement.  I’m hoping these new outlets will help to build on the interactions started here.

Watercolor

Bright Light on Cole, Watercolor by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, Bright Light on Cole, Watercolor, 10″ x 8″, © 2015

My last few posts have been about oil painting but over the last week I’ve been back to working with watercolor.  Both offer so many possibilities and have distinctly different feelings, both in appearance and application.  Most recently, I’ve been busy working on a couple of commissioned watercolor paintings. I’ve never mentioned it here before, but if you are interested in having me do a drawing or painting for you, feel free to contact me either here or at my Etsy store, ArtFromBrian.

I also revisited one of my favorite subjects this week, the shadows and brightly colored buildings of Cole Street in San Francisco. I love the translucency of watercolor and trying to build a surface that sparks a feeling, something like a memory of the places I’ve been.  If you’re interested in this painting, you can also find it at ArtFromBrian on Etsy.