Monday, May 28, 2007

red means go | no

pen & ink on collaged paper, pages from GO book, book dimensions are 6.5" x 4.6"

Sunday, May 27, 2007

black series: something else

acrylic & pen on collaged paper mounted on wood panel, 6.75" x 7.6" x 1.75"

The original sketch has a layer of white acrylic on top of the tan paper. In the process of glueing it down to the wood panel, i rubbed too hard and got the layer of paper with the acrylic paint torn up. Fortunately, the area where most of the pen drawing is concentrated (in black) is still in tact.

I thought to recreate the original and paint a flesh layer of white where it was before but now the more i look at it, the more it seems to want to be something else...

It's been hanging next to one of the black series paintings and i like it very much together. So maybe this is where the [black] series need to be heading...incorporating some smaller pieces and drawings maybe.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

pear 1.1 vintage blue

oil and string on masonite board, 19.75" x 19.2" x 1.75" [work in progress]
(1.75" is board [frame] thickness from wall)

Recently worked on an old painting that I have cut up and painted over. This is my favorite blue at the moment. I am loving the string "drawing" of the three loops hanging on the vertical line:

Really excited about it but it's also making me a bit tentative to continue for fear of "ruining" it...

Friday, May 25, 2007

skin/flesh (detail)

A glob of caulk applied on the surface of the wood
and then painted over.

Below is the back of the same spot:

-detail above-

-detail below-

The two images above are painted on one single wood board (the front and the back of it), 36" x 11.25"

String coated with some caulk and then painted over.

Below is the back detail of the above spot:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

skin flesh

<--outside (front)

inside -->

oil, string & mixed media on wood, 36" x 11.25"

I think this may be the first painting in oil that made me feel like i could actually work with paint my way, which is on wood (not canvas) and incorporating other non-[overpriced] artstore materials with it (string and caulk, yes!). Was it 7 years ago that i was so happy with how this painting turned out? thinking how innovative it was that i used the back as well? that it would be mounted on its side so that the viewer could take in both the front and the back?

But now looking at it, it is kind of making me sick in the stomach. I was thinking maybe i just need to touch it up a little since it is a little scratched up from storage but now i may have to cut it up soon...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

red bit

Come to think of it, i don't think it was mulberry paper that i first experimented with. But it was some kind of Japanese paper similar to it (one that is often used for woodcut prints) that had a more smoother surface.

I happened to have a big pile of these left-over scraps from these circles that i was cutting out to be used for pages to make a round book. So that is why there are these curves and pointy ends seen in the layering of the paper on the gourd. Actually, the edges of the layers are more noticeable because of the pencil marking from the outline of the circles that i drew to cut out.

Well, okay. So the acrylic easily scratched off so i decided to just take it all off and cover it with the Japanese paper scraps. But as it is with my tendency to save bits and pieces of things, i left a bit of the red so i could also remember how i got to where i am now.

Monday, May 21, 2007

baby steps

So, first, I had to leave the gourds alone to be dried. Depending on the humidity, it takes about a year or so for them to be fully dried. Every so often while they are drying, i would need to clean off some smelly moldy build-up on the surface.

You can see that on the bottom of the dried gourd (above) three dark spots where mold was starting to grow. If i didn't clean it off in time, it would have eaten through the gourd.

I have tried using gesso and acrylic paint but you can see below that both do not stay on very well:

So that is when i started thinking of other ways to treat the surface. And what better way than to use my beloved mulberry paper that i have neglected since taking a break from printmaking?

More on those paper-wrapped ones tomorrow...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mrs. Moy's painted gourds

[4.5" dried gourd, artwork by Mrs. P.K. Moy,
photo taken by J.S. Peng]

[3.5" dried gourd, artwork by Mrs. P.K. Moy,
photo taken by J.S. Peng]

Aren't these gourds lovely? I love love the first one. They are gourds dried and painted by Mrs. Moy, who is now in her 80's and still continues to make her art and craftwork when she can.

A few years ago, i was asked to design a website to showcase her work and so i was lucky to have seen and handled all of the lovely creations she has made over the years.

It is through her that i first learned of dried gourds and ever since seeing her work, i knew i had to do something with dried gourds, too. Mrs. Moy uses opaque and metallic pens to paint on the surface of the dried gourds after it is thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed.

I will add a link to more of her work when i get a chance to post it all up on Flickr since her website is no longer up. In addition to dried painted gourds, she also has painted eggs (duck and goose eggs, too!) and sequined dolls that are just as exquisite in color and design.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

baby gourds

1.5" - 3.5" in height [click for larger image]

The gourds are lined up in chronological order from trying them out in gesso and acrylic paint to covering them in paper and woodcut print.

More details later...

Friday, May 18, 2007


So two summers ago, i took an Intro to Cinema class, thinking that film-making is THE medium to get into, possibly my secret calling that i haven't uncovered yet. Forget painting and all this meaningless crap i was making. No one is going to look at my dried-up baby gourds wrapped in nice mulberry paper and think, "Wow, that was deep...i am so touched by the rebirth of that little one." Nor are people going to be crying over my happy dark paintings, are they.

Now, with movies...i'll be able to throw in some beautiful visual effects, tell a story and deliver some meaningful message and people could get it right away. And i'll have Cate Blanchette and Philip Seymour Hoffman to star in it...

Well, anyways, i am getting carried away. So i took the class, and one of the first assignments given to us was to make a flip-book. Sounds easy enough. Well, actually, it was quite not easy for me. I couldn't even do those little stick figure action thing, like maybe boucing a ball or something. Something with the timing and coordination of things i just couldn't grasp.

Finally, i came up with what i thought was a brilliant solution: why not paint in sections and therefore, show the movement of the brushstroke in the flip book? SO, i went out to get a stack of unlined index cards and started painting these bright fields of reds, pinks and oranges. At the time, i had some friends visiting and they kind of looked over what i was doing. I felt like i was having a small but very captivated audience watching me direct my little masterpiece. Yeah, just a bit delusional there.

As it turned out, in my enthusiasm, the acrylic paint was applied too thickly, causing the paper to become too plasticky and flimsy to flip through. But even if it were able to flipped smoothly, there was no movement of paint splashing across the pages. You would think it would work looking at these, wouldn't you?

Well, i wasn't going to let my effort go to waste, especially not with all that earnesty and excitement that went into it (i also painted the back of some of the pages). It just so happened that at the time i was also learning to make different sorts of boxes/enclosures for damaged books, so i thought i'll use these to practice on.

Long story short, film-making is not my calling, which is okay, because look what i got out of it:

Pretty little box paintings to brighten the wall of my office. I shall just have to conquer the world one wall at a time...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

orange pink boxes

acrylic on index card paper, then
folded & pasted down into a box,
1.75" x 1.8" x .5"

acryic on index card paper, then folded
& pasted down into a box,
1.75" x 2.2" x .5"

More on these tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

big brother blue

<--This guy here is the tall one in the blue installation:

It is steel rod, wire and twigs wrapped together in duct tape, standing at 8 ft tall. The shorter guys are just twigs and tree branches wrapped in the same blue and black duct tape.

By itself, it is a sculptural object but in the blue installation, it is to be viewed more as part of a painting than a sculptural piece.

A close-up of the blue "paint" over black:


black & blue duct tape on twigs, steel rod & wire, 8 x 6.5 ft

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

ignu vii

monotype on printmaking paper, 13.5" x 18", part of a collaborative series with Kham Saybanha, based on Allen Ginsberg's poem Ignu.

happy mother's day!

When i think of a mother's love, i think of how my mom is with my little sister. It is one that is very protective, often overbearing, and sometimes very angry; Yet, somehow amidst all that, always, there is this underlying tenderness that is still all-consuming and enduring through it all.

I wasn't really thinking of this when i set up to take this picture but appropriately, the vase is made by my sister Monna! And the pomelo (the biggest fruit in the grapefruit family) was given either by my mom or my aunt because they know how i love pomelos. I ate it and kept the skin to dry and amazingly, it turned into a flower!

Take a closer look at the vase -
[click on it for a bigger image]

Isn't this such a lovely little vase? It's like only 2" high and 1.5" fat.
Monna made it when she was in high school. It's one of my favorite things in the world. I could just imagine her chubby little fingers trying delicately to shape the clay into this precious little thing. And the color, how it fades at the bottom, not quite covering it all evenly, is perfect.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

black series: II

-click for larger image-

On and off, i've been working on this series since 2002(?), starting with 4 wooden 24" square panels (the 3 pieces on the left, and the 4 red pieces on the right have been sawed off not too long ago this year). It's been a real pain both with the subject matter and physically working and reworking the surface of each piece.

Here are some close-up images of the red pieces where the wood has been carved and gauged away:

The black layer is revealed from scratching off the red pink surface.

The yellowish tan color is the raw wood being exposed.

The blue is the layer beneath the black.

<-- This image here was at one point the 'final' state of one of the original 4 square panels... until it got cut into 3 pieces... At first, i was really satisfied with how it turned out - all very nice and clean-cut without being too rigid, i thought. But then one day the black just got too much. It was just such an empty artificial piece of crap that was trying to be all deep and abstract. -cut up into three pieces below-

You see here with all these pieces i have right now, everything is somewhat all over the place, a frustrating mess. I won't even address the blue and orange piece (next to the red pieces in the first picture at the top) except to say that it has quite a few layers of nothingness.

As trite as it may be, i started with the idea of 'inside/outside', which had/has been a constant theme in my work in one way or another. The black is the 'inside', which on good days represents inner strength, and on other days, it is just everything dark and empty. 'Outside' is whatever that juxtaposes with the black. Well, as it is, this idea is not going too far for me...

<---BUT, i do love love this painting that came out of all this mess. I must say though, most people everyone who sees this hanging up nice and proud in my living room don't seem to care too much for it. I look at it and it just makes me so happy. What does it for me is that constant blue square that opens out to the sky everytime i look at it...

Friday, May 11, 2007

black series: I **black spring**

oil & mixed media on wood panel, 24"x 23.75" x 1.75" (1.75" is panel thickness from wall)

I will post up more details about this painting later
today is supposedly part of the 'black series' that i have chopped up...

**update 05.18.07
Thanks to my dear friend Aliya, i have a title for this painting! Aliya, thank you for your constant encouragement and interest in seeing what would "pop up through [this] black spring..."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

the little teapot

oil on masonite board, 9.125" x 7.125" x 1.75"
(1.75" is board [frame] thickness from wall)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007