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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Spring

Oil Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, The Way, Oil on Canvas, 7″ x 7″, © 2016

It feels like Spring has fully arrived in San Francisco. I am very much enjoying the 60 to 70 degree temperatures with clear skies and have been trying to get outside whenever possible.  I painted this small canvas after a walk to the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park.  I’ve been very interested in square format compositions and the effect of light and shadow on different colors. It reminds me of my limited training in darkroom photography where one of the challenges was to capture highlights and shadows without losing all of the information behind them. Similarly, I’ve been trying to neutralize colors by mixing compliments to create shadows that are delicate and still show the colors underneath.

Oil Painting by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey, High Tide and the Fog, Oil on Masonite, 14″ x 11″, © 2016

I’ve also been experimenting with brushwork.  Specifically, I’ve been working towards letting go and finding a way between tight and loose.  Brushwork, it seems to me, is like the rhythm of a song.  It can vary greatly and change the feeling of a painting from controlled and orderly to chaotic to lyrical and rhythmic.  In the painting above, I experimented with using different sized brushes to capture some of the movement of the waves near Land’s End by the entrance to the bay.  A light fog was coming in and obscuring the hills in the distance and, in the end, I found this to be the most interesting part of the painting.  I’m definitely going to explore the idea of using fog or haze in future paintings.

Again, thank you for reading and your comments are always appreciated!

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.

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:

http://doodlewash.com/2015/11/18/guest-doodlewash-life-in-san-francisco/

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:

facebook.com/doodlewash

twitter.com/doodlewash

pinterest.com/doodlewash

google.com/+doodlewash

doodlewash.tumblr.com