Monday, December 28, 2009

Abstract Cityscape

Every time I go to big cities like New York or Chicago, I am struck by the abstract composition possibilities offered by the towering buildings. Even without attempting to capture the beauty of the often complicated and elaborate facades, just the shapes alone lend themselves to artistic interpretation.

In Cityscape I have tried to capture the basic vertical shapes of the buildings separated by a barely discernible street. I separated the sunny and shaded sides of the street by using warm and cool colors respectively. The entire painting is done with various sized knives but I left the roughest texture for the sky which is made up of white and bits of almost every other color in the painting to create a sense of harmony.

Cityscape, Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16"x20", $100

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Abstract in Progress: Part 3 - Are We There Yet?

original contemporary abstract painting in acrylic on canvas by american artist atul pande
There are times when it is best to call it done whether the painting makes you happy or not. The abstract I started a week or so ago is now in its third iteration and it is not very satisfying. For now, I am going to set it aside and go on to something else so as not to keep overworking this piece.

Maybe I will come back to it some day or maybe this is it. Who knows?

Understanding, Acrylic on canvas, 18"x24", Not for sale

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rough-Hewn Shapes

original charcoal sketch by american artist atul pande
Isolating just one aspect of a landscape can create a powerful composition. So far I have only ever attempted this with organic shapes such as flowers in closeup. The finished picture often ends up looking like an abstract. But the image can still remain impressionistic or representational when a particular element is isolated but still recognizable.

Field Boulders is a charcoal sketch that attempts to capture the rough-hewn shapes arranged in a triangular composition with barely the suggestion of a grassy foreground. The highlights and shadows provide much to explore in the picture.

Field Boulders, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Abstract in Progress: Part 2

I don't know how hard it is for other artists, but I find it difficult to know when to call a painting finished. This challenge seems even bigger for non-objective expressionist art where the only frames of reference to define "finished" are completely inapplicable. It is not the purpose of abstract art to "look like something". So when is it done?

The unfinished abstract I posted a few days ago continues to evolve and I am not sure where it will go. Your ideas and comments are most welcome.

Understanding, Acryic on canvas, 18"x24", Not for sale

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Timelessness or Obsolescence?

original charcoal sketch by american artist atul pande
Aspects of rural scenes in America have a timeless quality about them. Scenes such as the one depicted in Barbed-Wire Fence are there for anyone who cares to stop and look. Even as urban sprawl continues to displace the lifestyle of rural America, there are places that steadfastly remain as they might have been a hundred years ago.

Barbed-Wire Fence was inspired by a fenced in meadow that is on my drive to work. When the traffic is slow enough for me to look, I often notice things that have been right before my eyes and I have never noticed them.

Barbed-Wire Fence, Charcoal pencil on Bristol Board, 11"x14", Not for sale

Monday, December 7, 2009

Abstract in Progress

original abstract acrylic painting by american artist atul pande
I have not previously posted paintings in progress, but this is is different. I started working on this abstract after watching Bob Rankin's video about the 'edge ratio'.

The edge ratio is a concept that attempts to define an element that contributes to heightened interest in an abstract. The edge ratio is the manner in which the edge of the painting is segmented on the four sides. Theory proposes that interest is sharpened if the edge ratio is uneven on the four edges i.e. each of the four edges is segmented differently from the others.

Understanding is an abstract in which the edges are divided unevenly. The challenge still remains that a focal point of interest needs to be created so as to draw the eye inwards. Where should it be? I have not decided yet but decided to post the unfinished picture anyway in case you feel inclined to comment.

Understanding, Acrylic on canvas, 18"x24", Not for sale

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More sketching

original charcoal sketch by american artist atul pande
Not much to say about this plain sketch of a bunch of bananas. I found that the shape of bananas makes it a bit hard to avoid making it seem like they are floating in space. With both ends rising upwards, the shadows are the only way to create a sense of form anchored to the ground.

Bananas was done with charcoal pencil on paper. I have tried to minimize the blending to convey a sense of roughness and energy. Of course, this limits the tonal variation that can be achieved. But then it is just a sketch!

Bananas, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Focus of Interest in an Abstract

Abstract paintings often seem to be a meaningless arrangement of color and form. In fact, careful study will reveal that the most striking abstracts have a clear focal point. In most contemporary abstracts, the focal point is usually defined by the point of maximum tonal contrast.

In Untitled Abstract, I experimented with a mostly dark background and then built up the color until the lightest highlight. The shapes have an organic feel to them without any objective representation. Additional texture was created by running a large comb through the second and third layers of paint. An old credit card was used to push the paint around and create some of the flowing lines.

Untitled Abstract, Acrylic on canvas, 36"x24", Not for sale

Monday, November 30, 2009

Semi-Abstract Sunset

Sunsets were one of my favorite subjects when my main artistic pursuit was photography. When I took up painting five years ago, the first painting was that of a sunset. So I keep returning to sunsets from time to time and each time provides a new learning of some sort.
I started Sunset Encore with a very thin coat of acrylic colors applied on the canvas with a very wet sponge. The effect was almost of watercolor on paper and I could have stopped right there. The rest of the painting was then built up in layers of thin paint. Other than the coastline, there is no attempt to create any objective representation in this painting. The coastline anchors the sky and sea so that not much else is required to give a sense of depth.

Sunset Encore, Acrylic on canvas, 36"x24", Not for sale

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Horse Heads

original charcoal sketch by american artist atul pande
original charcoal sketch by american artist atul pande
Every time I look at horses, in addition to their grace and sense of controlled power, I am struck by the beauty of their faces. There is something about the sculpted solidity of the bones in the horses' head that begs to be drawn or painted.

Horse Head and Horses were both drawn rapidly with Conte crayon charcoal sticks with digital photographs used as a reference. As I get better, I am planning to do a series of large line drawings of horse heads, so this is good practice for now.

Horse Head, Conte crayon on paper, 11"x14", Not for sale

Horses, Conte crayon on paper, 11"x14", Not for sale

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Odd Composition?

original charcoal sketch by american artist atul pande
For some reason asymmetric composition draws viewer interest a lot longer than complete evenness. Design elements with odd-number components suggest more movement and engage the viewer. Even or symmetric numbered elements are perceived as static and quickly quench interest.

There is no handy explanation for this phenomenon. Perhaps it has something to do with how the brain processes visual stimuli and its relevance for human survival. Movement in the visual field may indicate a potential prey or predator and thus holds interest a lot longer than static symmetry that quickly fades into the background and is of no interest.

Anyhow, Three Peppers uses the odd-number composition. In addition, the peppers are all different sizes too. In my opinion, this strengthens the composition even further.

Three Peppers, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Friday, November 27, 2009

Inexpensive Experimentation

charcoal sketch of a bird by american artist atul pande
Though I had read about the merits of adopting regular and frequent sketching as an essential component of perfecting technique, it is only after I started drawing that the full potential of this inexpensive activity began to dawn on me. Not only do sketches compel close observation but they also allow compositional designs to be tried out before committing paint to ground. In the absence of a formal education in fine art, it has taken me years to arrive at this obvious conclusion!

Waiting for Spring is a charcoal sketch that I did from a digital photograph. I was satisfied with the form and placement of the bird. Upon reflection I realized that the blank space in front of the bird allows the eye to easily travel out of the scene. It would have been easy to use another branch coming off of the bottom one to re-direct the eye back to the center of interest.

Waiting for Spring, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Three Pears -- Hardly Original!

charcoal sketch of three pears by american artist atul pane
Pears have been drawn and painted in numerous different ways. The most frequent composition I found is three pieces of fruit arranged in a row. Years ago I recall seeing a large painting with a row of pears (maybe as many as 8-9) receding into the distance. Set against a light background with the faintest of shadows, the pears created a feeling of infinite depth.

Three Pears was quickly sketched from a digital photograph using the fewest marks possible. I subtracted some of the highlights with an eraser. The charcoal marks were left unblended to convey a sense of energy and movement.

Three Pears, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Avocado Halves

Sketching from photographs is often most convenient for me because of my business travel schedule. I can use pictures from the web (free rights$ of use, of course) or magazines. And I can carry my own digital pictures as source material. The problem is that photographs often fail to fully convey the depth and shadows which are essential to defining three-dimensional objects.

Avocado Halves is a small charcoal sketch done from a royalty-free image from
Public Domain Image. The photograph is sharp and clear, but it is difficult to get a read of the light and shadows. So I just invented the tiniest bit of shadowing at the bottom so as to anchor the object. Otherwise the avocado would seem to float in space!

Avocado Halves, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another step forward

original graphite sketch of pet dog by American artist atul pande
Drawing, sketching or painting images of household pets is probably one of the obvious pursuits for a beginning artist. I started with landscapes and for several years have done nothing else until trying still life painting and sketching. Each step is a definite confidence builder and I intend to continue down this path for the foreseeable future.

Mr. Cooper is my first attempt to draw an animal -- excluding, of course, the second grade art lessons! Technique leaves much to be desired here, but the likeness is close as you may be able to tell from the photograph. Cooper is my daughter's chihuahua-terrier mix and has no trouble posing for portraits!

Mr. Cooper, Graphite on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Monday, November 23, 2009

Foray into charcoal sketching

original charcoal sketch on paper by American artist Atul Pande
In the absence of long enough blocks of time to paint, I am finding sketching to be a handy tool to exercise some discipline. So far I had only used pencil or ink, mainly because of familiarity with the tools. Charcoal had always seemed far too messy to be able to carry around and use during the pauses of everyday life.

Recently I found charcoal pencils at the local art store and these appear to be a perfect solution for my needs. The idea for this first attempt at sketching with charcoal was provided by a mundane aspect of every home -- some arrangement of knick knacks that could serve as a stimulus for still life work. The varying sizes of the three vases offered design elements without any contrivance.

Three Vases is a simple little sketch that took me one step closer to overcoming my fear of drawing. A charcoal pencil and a kneadable eraser are a small price to pay for that important step.

Three Vases, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Long Gap -- and More Practice

pencil sketch by original Amrican artist atul pande
How can I explain my prolonged absence from the blog without a laundry list of pitiful excuses? Is earning a living and attending to the daily ups and downs of life enough reason?

Anyway, I am back and slowly returning to the rhythm of creativity. With no formal art training, one of the hardest things for me is to practice the discipline of drawing. So during "the break" (that is what I prefer to call my absence!), I decided that I would devote much more time to drawing before putting medium to ground.

The still life that I share here was inspired by a visit to a local farmer's market. North Carolina's long growing season allows for local produce to be enjoyed well into the fall. Among the most enjoyable bits of it involve tomatoes, especially heirloom tomatoes. Grown au naturel, they have all the imperfections nature intended -- including the surprise sweet-and-sour taste of a fresh fat fruit that is far from grocery-store perfect.

I arranged the large heirloom tomato next to sundried tomato halves (NC grown, of course) lit from the side. I drew a rough sketch that I could not finish in the few minutes I had so I took a number of photographs from which I completed the sketch.

Stay tuned for the completed painting.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Farmland in Monochrome

watercolor landscape painting by atul pande
Watercolor always scares me due to the apparent finality that comes from contact between color and paper. There is no way to retrace steps once brush meets paper. Yet I have seen videos of watercolorists who seem to effortlessly correct "mistakes" and produce beautiful pictures. As a result I have played with watercolor more and am finding that accidents can be turned into unanticipated creativity.

That was not the case with this farmland picture, but the challenge I set here was to produce a watercolor picture with a restricted -- almost monochromatic -- palette. I used only burnt sienna, raw sienna and ultramarine blue. The effect is a rather pleasing dusky scene that is so reminiscent of the American midwest.

Farmland in Monochrome, Watercolor on 300lb paper, 9"x12", Not for sale

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Kerala Rice Paddy

Kerala is one of the world's most beautiful places and is located in the southwestern-most part of India. A couple of years ago, I had my first opportunity to spend a few days in Kerala, soaking in the beauty of the lush, tea-plantation covered mountains to the intracoastal waterways and the Indian ocean. At every turn on the narrow roads that wind through Kerala are 'paintable' sights, one of which is the rice paddies that dot the entire state.

Kerala Rice Paddy was done from memory aided by photographs. The predominant yellow-orange hue of the entire picture is intended to represent the humid tropical atmosphere that asserts itself in the late afternoon as the sun is dropping to the horizon. Unlike temperate climate landscapes, there are few cool hues in the picture. Just looking at this picture evokes memories of sweaty afternoons and long, cool drinks!

Kerala Rice Paddy, Acrylic on canvas board, 11"x14", $75 (unframed)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Window in Old Brick Wall

original watercolor painting of a window by atul pande
Life has been a whirlwind of late, hence a lack of new posts. When I did have a chance to paint, the results have been less than stellar and certainly not worth sharing! In any event, I am working through the "slump" and hope to post more regularly once again.

Window in Old Brick Wall follows in the series of window-themed watercolors I did last year. Needless to say the variations that can be found on a single theme such as this are nearly endless. Working on the window paintings has also taught me the discipline of sketching an outline before applying color. This is of special importance in an architectural subject where the proportions need to be more exact than in some other subjects.

Anyway, it is nice to be back and I look forward to comments as always.

Window in Old Brick Wall, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 4"x6", $25

Saturday, February 28, 2009

One Apple: A Small Study

Apples come in so many shapes, sizes and colors but there are some quintessential elements that make the fruit readily recognizable. Perhaps this is what makes apples so attractive when grade school children practice their early artistic skills.

For the more mature of us, apples can be challenging and rewarding at the same time. In this small study, I have tried to use a limited number of colors and few brushstrokes to schieve the likeness of an apple. This is in practice for a bigger still life I intend to do but which scares me each time I face the canvas. Though quite elementary, doing this piece has helped me get greater confidence.

One Apple, Acrylic on canvas board, 5"x7", not for sale

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hot and Sour

contemporary still lifepainting of chilli peppers and lemon done in acrylic by atul pande
A recent post from Carol Schiff, in which she confessed to being a still life painter all along encouraged me to experiment with my first still life. The inspiration for the contents came from my other creative endeavor -- cooking. Like my mother, I have never followed recipes which allows a lot of freedom to experiment with combinations of flavors and foods without regard to a "rule book" (kind of like art in a way).

I mostly do Indian, Italian and modern American style cooking, often blending various ethnic flavors with traditional dishes. Needless to say, hot and sour flavors abound in my kitchen. I avoided working on this painting while hungry so as to avoid salivating over it! It kept reminding me of a dish I make sometimes that consists of pasta with sun-dried tomatoes tossed with chilli oil and lemon juice dressing. It truly is to die for.

Anyway, here is my first still life attempt and I would love to hear your comments.

Hot and Sour, Acrylic on gesso board, 11'x14', $100 (unframed)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lupins in Close-up

contemporary acrylic painting of wild lupin flowers by atul pande One of the most beautiful sights when driving through eastern Canada, especially New Brunswick, is the profusion of wild lupins growing by the roadside. Though the flowers are themselves rather small, they tend to cover large expanses which creates a strong visual impact.

Roadside Beauties is representative of New Brunswick lupins but with a low and up-close perspective. Obviously this exaggerates their size relative to the background but makes them the most prominent part of the picture. Wild lupins typically tend to be in the blue-red hues with a multitude of shades in between.

Roadside Beauties, Acrylic on 140lb paper, 4"x6", $25 (unframed)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lotus in Full Bloom

This painting is inspired by a picture that a friend took in Australia. It is done in watercolor pencil so the color is perhaps not as brilliant as with full strength watercolor. I am also working with limited tools -- just the pencils and a single brush -- since I have been traveling overseas (in snowy London) and carrying non-solid paints is not easy these days.

Anyway, there are layers of color here with some edges softened while others left with pencil marks intact. The idea is to convey a painterly rather than a drawn in feel to the picture.

Lotus in Full Bloom, Watercolor pencil on 140lb paper, 4"x6", $25 (unframed)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lilies in Watercolor Pencil

water lily painting in watercolor pencil by atul pande
Claude Monet painted many scenes of water lillies each one as enjoyable as the other, but the most impressive one -- not least because of its size -- is the one at the Museum of Modern Art in New York city. Reflections of Clouds on the Water Lily Pond is a triptych measuring approximately 6ft x 42ft. The complexity of composition and the depth of color are absolutely astounding. Many hours of study will continue to reveal intricate detail and the layering of transparent color indicating what effort went into creating this piece.

Artists have ever since replicated water lily paintings partly in a genuine desire to understand the masterful techniques of Monet but also because lilies are just fun to paint. Although I have done a
water lily acrylic painting before, this time I tried it with watercolor pencil. Not having worked with this medium very much before, I am quite pleased with how the painting came out. Though I softened out some of the pencil marks and hard edges with a wet brush, most of them were left in to let the “artistic look” remain!

Sunshine on Water Lilles, Watercolor pencil on 140lb paper, 4’x6’, $25 (unframed)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Summer Flowers

This post continues the Italian theme. Palatial villas and unassuming homes set along the shore of Lake Garda in northern Italy make for numerous scenes worth capturing on canvas. The ageless buildings are often harmoniously tucked together despite the apparent lack of planning or design behind them. It is almost as if the brilliant sun, the lush mountains and the evergreen foliage serve to smooth out any visually discordant note.

Summer Flowers was composed from several photographs taken during my last trip to Italy. This is my first painting on plywood and it took a bit of experimenting to get used to the grain, but I was not looking for a smooth look so the grain actually helped.

Summer Flowers, Acrylic on plywood, 8"x8", $50 (unframed)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Italian Splendor

A few months I had the opportunity to be in Italy on business and found myself in the town of Salo which is located in a long narrow bay under Monte San Bartolomeo on Lake Garda in the north. The picturesque town takes its name from Gasparo de Salo (1542-1609), the inventor of the violin. The town is a favorite vacation spot in the summer, though there is a permanent resident population also.

Salo Promenade was inspired by the beauty of colorful architecture set against the hills with the waterfront filled with pleasure boats of all description. I worked from some digital pictures I took when I was there, but this is the sort of place that makes me want to work en plein aire. Perhaps something to look forward to in the future.

Salo Promenade, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 6”x9”, $30 (unframed)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tribute to Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), An American Classic

Andrew Wyeth, a beacon of the American art scene, passed away last week. Without a doubt, Wyeth was (and always will be) an American treasure. His poignant images of the American landscape (e.g. Christina's World) are readily recognizable by even those with no particular interest in fine art.

Wyeth's paintings, most in watercolor or tempera, are deceptive in their simplicity. Cleverly composed and meticulously executed, the images appear shorn of all color yet remain powerful in their depiction of images of daily life. In looking at Wyeth's paintings, I find it easy to get drawn in and then experience a lingering compulsion to wonder about the story these pictures tell. Surely, the stories that Wyeth's pictures tell are worth more than a thousand words.

Wyeth was 91 when he died in his sleep, as private in his death as he was in life. Today's post is my modest attempt to remember this giant of the art world.

Untitled, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 9"x12", Not for sale

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Abandoned Forever

contemporary acrylic painting by atul pande
Some windows are no longer windows. For myriad reasons, the ability of the window to provide light and sight has been abandoned. The window, now boarded up, is no longer a desired feature of the building but rather an inconvenience.

Abandoned Forever is on the side of a decrepit shed. The shed itself in disrepair, the window too is covered over with plywood to keep out the elements. Yet the contrasting color and texture of the window against the shed provides some interesting elements. I am not sure this painting is quite done yet, but wanted to post it anyway.

Abandoned Forever, Acrylic on 140lb paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Monday, January 19, 2009

Variation on Barn Window

contemporary watercolor painting of a barn window by atul pande
Combining media in art is nothing new, nor particularly notable in itself. Ultimately, as Randall Tipton has pointed out, what artists do aims to produce a good painting rather than worry about rules. Indeed, if artists followed rules there would be no progress in art.

Rough-Hewn Barn Window is just another ordinary window, perhaps on a hay barn, consisting of rough-hewn planks nailed together, less a piece of marvelous carpentry than an example of ultimate American pragmatism. Therein though lies the character of the workmanship, however elementary, done by a human hand.

This piece is done with ink and watercolor which lend it both definite form and some texture. Prolonged study might even suggest directionality to the light falling upon this window that, even in the most fantastic of imagination, could only conceal the basics elements of farm life.

Rough-Hewn Barn Window, Watercolor over pen and ink on 140lb paper, 4"x6", $30 (unframed)

Moonlit Window

Gothic church windows can range from the simple to the ornate. While their shape is common, the glass inserts can go from the totally unadorned lead glass to the most ornate stained glass. Examples of the latter can range from the artisanal (Duke Chapel in Durham, North Carolina) to the artistic (Fraum√ľnster in Zurich, Switzerland).

Moonlit Window is nothing grand in itself. Just a gothic church window with plain lead glass made dramatic by the moonlight streaming in and highlighting the texture of the bricks framing the window-well. In my opinion, the sharp value contrast gives this simple painting a dramatic feel despite its mundane subject.

Moonlit Window, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 4"x6", $30 (unframed)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Barn Window

The window theme has interested me for a while and today's post is the third in the series of watercolors. It's hard to know when inspiration will run out but for now I continue to find interesting shapes, colors and textures in windows on which to try out different techniques.

In the three pieces I have done so far, texture appears to be key to an interesting picture. For Barn Window, I used a technique demonstrated by
Tom Jones in one of his free videos on Jerry's Artarama website. Bold strokes of color are laid down over the pencil sketch, allowed to dry and then the shapes are pulled out by layering on darker colors and hardening or softening the edges to define the shapes.
Though I have a long ways to go in mastering this approach, I was pleased with how this painting turned out. Feel free to tell me what you think.

Barn Window, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 9"x12", $50 (unframed)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Red Shuttered Mystery

contemporary watercolor painting of a red shuttered window by atul pande
Closed shutters on windows instantly evoke the sense of a warm sunny climate. At the same time (sort of like a wrapped package), a curiosity springs to mind about what tableaux of daily life might be going on behind the shutters. What joyous, ordinary or painful experience might the shutters conceal?

Red Shutterred Mystery is a simple piece of work, though it did take a bit of time especially in creating the sketch and masking off the highlights. Putting in the color was the easier step!

Red Shuttered Mystery, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 4"x6", $30 (unframed)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lead Glass Window

Windows set into the stone and brick facades of old churches and cathedrals provide a wealth of color and texture to make for interesting pictures. For Lead Glass Window, I masked out the white in the window more precisely than in the brickwork. It was then a straightforward matter of laying in the warm and cool colors to make up the brick and stone sections, respectively.

After peeling the masking fluid, I touched up the painting overall to reduce the stark separation betwen the warm and cool areas. Voila! Another ancient window that has been around for a few centuries and will probably still be there for another few.

Lead Glass Window, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 4"x6", $30 (unframed)
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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Old Town Window

contemporary watercolor painting by atul pande

My work often takes me overseas allowing an opportunity to capture interesting ideas for later use when I am back in my studio. Sometimes I am lucky to have a camera with me while at other times a sketchbook. Very often there is just the memory of a sight, seen perhaps in passing, that inspires a painting.

Old Town Window is a sight that is so frequently found in the old cities of Europe that this picture could almost be from anywhere. Once majestic buildings of vintage that often predates the New World continue to be in regular use. Unlike the urban decay common to some large American cities, the European brick and plaster or stone buildings show unique character rather than looking aged and decrepit. Even though time has taken its toll, there is an enduring solidity and sense of continuity that I hope is apparent in this picture. Almost certainly, this window will still be there well after many of us.

Old Town Window, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 4"x6", $30 (unframed)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fog and mist

What you get with watercolors is often somewhat of a surprise. The medium performs in infinite ways depending on a variety of factors.In Fog and Mist I was aiming to create the impression of recession just by varying the proportion of water and paint without actually changing the color.

With the paper barely moistened, I started with the background trees and gradually worked up to stronger color for the foreground trees. Once the paper was dry, the bare tree trunks were put in to suggest a fall or spring feel. A bit of color added to the foreground and the piece was done! The picture is not quite what I imagined but it is close enough.

Fog and Mist, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 4"x6", $10 (unframed)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Old Fence

contemporary mixed media painting by atul pande
WARNING: Painting in watercolor can be addicting!

I have recently come back to watercolor after a break of almost a year. The speed with which paintings can be completed in watercolor and the fresh color that results are highly rewarding. Of course, mistakes are difficult (if not impossible) to correct. So not only must the artist be bold and confident but strive to be right with each stroke of color.

As I came close to finishing Old Fence, it seemed to me that the flowers were not bright enough so I used a bit of red and yellow gouache to give them more form. Otherwise the hardest part was sketching the fence and negative painting around it. I like the cheery end result. Tell me what you think.

Old Fence, Watercolor and gouache on 140lb paper, 9"x12', $30 (unframed)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sea Drama

contemporary American seascape acrylic painting by atul pande
Sea Drama was inspired by a collection of photos from a vacation in Nova Scotia some years ago. The rugged but beautiful topography of Nova Scotia has endless scenes like this. Brawny headlands frame the water as the daily drama goes on from sunrise to sundown.

One evening my wife and I watched a scene very much like this from a restaurant window except that we could see Minke whales playing in the distant water. My indication of gulls near the horizon is a weak attempt to reflect the possibility that whales might be down below.

Sea Drama, Acrylic on canvas board, 5"x7", $25 (Unframed)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Yet another snow scene

It has been a dismal couple of weeks in the southeast with day after day of rain and grey skies. This is quite a contrast from the usual daily doses of sunshine I am now used to after having left Michigan over three years ago.

Looking out the window and seeing mist and grey seems to have been my inspiration for the snow scenes once I got started. Birch in Snow is likely to be the last one for now, though. The rich, brilliant colors I normally use in my acrylic pieces are beckoning once again.....

Birch in Snow, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 4'x6', $20 (unframed)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Snow-laden Trio

original contemporary watercolor painting by atul pande
In response to Snowy Meadow, Carol Schiff rightly pointed out the challenge of switching betweeen painting oils and acrylics, where one goes from dark to light, and painting watercolor, where the process is reversed. In watercolor, the lights must be preserved right from the beginning since there is no good way to add them afterwards.

I started Snow-laden Trio by making a loose pencil sketch. Then I used masking fluid to block out the snow both on the trees and the ground, as well as the tall leafless tree trunks. The next step was to apply the sky using a graded wash of pthalo blue. Towards the ground burnt sienna was added to the blue along with lots of water to get a weak grey wash for the foreground.

Once the wash was dry, the evergreens were laid in using a strong blue-green mix. After the trees were dry the masking fluid was peeled off, then the grasses and shading were added to the foreground. On stepping back, the hard edge between the bottom of the trees and the foreground did not seem quite right, so I softened it out with a wet brush.

Snow-laden Trio, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 9"x12", $35 (unframed)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dreaming of Spring

Spring may not be quite around the corner but at least the days are starting to get longer. Soon the unremitting grey will start to give way to bits of color signaling a new growing season. I have tried to represent in this piece that early spot of color that can be seen in an otherwise dismal landscape. Among all the greys and browns, there are little bits of yellows and reds that begin to enliven the scenery once again before full-blown spring arrives.

Early Spring is very much a northern landscape with its steely grey sky and brown dormant foliage in the background. The streaks of white indicate retreating snow that will melt and freeze many times before it leaves. As yet the only sign of growth is the brightening grasses sticking out through the dark ice in the foreground and the distant middle ground.

Early Spring, Acrylic on canvas board, 5'x7', $25 (unframed)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Snowy Meadow in Watercolor

While I am not especially fond of snowy scenes, a reader of this blog made a special request to which I am responding in this post. Since the requester is a native of Canada with plenty of access to scenes like this, I am a bit puzzled at the request.......Anyway, here goes.

I don't often paint in watercolor so this one took some preparation and thought. The whitest streaks of snow were covered with masking fluid which was removed after the initial graded wash of pthalo and ultramarine blue. The rest was just a matter of serially laying in the trees and embellishing the foreground with some stray grasses poking through the snow. The white patches look reddish but only in the photograph -- must have been the light while I was taking the picture. In the actual painting they are a brilliant white which, mixed with the pale bluish foreground, gives the painting a "cold" look.

Snowy Meadow, Watercolor on 140lb paper, 9"x12", SOLD

Friday, January 2, 2009


contemporary hibiscus flower painting by atul pande
This piece was done as much as an exercise as it was to capture the beauty of one of my favorite flowers. Just a few minutes into the painting, I found myself vacillating between styles. Abstract or impressionist? Knife or brush? Light background to make the color pop or a dark background to make the center of interest more dramatic? Such are the choices one must make!

Going through the process of choosing made me start thinking about another piece on which I have worked for nearly 2 years. I have started and stopped, then gessoed over and started all over again three times. In painting Hibiscus, it clicked for me that perhaps the challenge with the bigger piece has just been insufficient forethought about the choices that make a painting work. Stay tuned to find out if I do better this time around.......

Happy New Year!

Hibiscus, Acrylic on canvas board, 11"x14", $50