Posts Tagged: Re-paint

Reject pile for Natural Conclusions

Total paint rejection. On the other hand, acrylic binds pretty well to itself.

Total paint rejection. On the other hand, acrylic binds pretty well to itself.

When I came up with the idea for Natural Conclusions, I knew it was highly dependent on the kind of artwork I’d find in thrift stores. I had a vague idea that landscapes or still lifes would probably be the easiest subject to find for original paintings. They were…but I also came across a lot of other stuff too. About 15-20% of what I came across ended up working for this particular project. Here are the various reasons why pieces were either non-starters or failed along the way:

Colors too unrealistic. I found a few with background/skies that were so far beyond any natural color (hot pink) that any interpretation I’d make would bear no resemblance to the original. I was a little leery about whether Cherry Blossoms \ Shae and City Sunset / AP would work out for this reason, but the subjects were too interesting to pass up and it worked out.

Lighting too unrealistic. I came across lots of bizarre lighting for moonlit scenes. I decided that it was okay to have an unnaturally large moon (always a full moon…no love for the waxing/waning out there) as long as the scene was even a little realistic. That’s how Winter Forest \ Anonymous and Night Mountains / Brooke P made the cut.

Far too busy. I found some good candidates that I later realized had too much conflicting detail to clearly show what the landscape was. If I found myself thinking about how to simplify it – rather than how to fill in detail – then it was too busy. Since only a slice of the original would be showing it needed to still look like a landscape, and these would just look abstract.

Words. Paintings with words are popular home decoration but didn’t really fit this project. They might make for an interesting Jasper Johns-style collage. I’ve seen some fun uses of frames-with-words, like this awesome one with Skeletor.

Good enough. I really wasn’t sure if I’d find enough to work with, so sometimes I bought paintings that I later decided were pretty reasonable on their own. When I had this change of heart, I donated them back.

Material failures. I had two promising paintings that were either oil or had some kind of coating that eventually rejected the acrylic: one was a Victorian house, and one was a barn in the snow. I had practically finished the Victorian one when I removed the tape, and the layers of acrylic I’d painted lifted right up along with it. When I start each painting I always put a base isolation coat to seal them, and that lifted up too. I checked the barn (which I’d taped off but not started painting) and sure enough, the isolation coat lifted off that one too. Very disappointing.

Huge moon, wiggly plants, what?

Huge moon, wiggly plants, what?

Too busy. Branches and boards?

Too busy. Branches and boards?

Wordy. Kinda liked the popsicles

Wordy. Kinda liked the popsicles

On second thought, good enough as is

On second thought, good enough as is

The barn that wasn't meant to be

The barn that wasn’t meant to be

“Natural Conclusions” show at Kaleid Gallery

Natural Conclusions reception (photo by Jillian Cocklin)

Natural Conclusions reception (photo by Jillian Cocklin)

My solo show, Natural Conclusions, is now up at Kaleid Gallery in downtown San José from now ’til March 30th. Beyond the official description, I thought I’d say a little about what these are and why I did this.

This show is the culmination of two years of collecting amateur landscapes in need of a little love. This idea came to me based on two ideas:

• remembering what it’s like to get “stuck” on a painting, knowing I wanted to improve it but not sure how (one in particular I did finish years later)
• thinking about “paint night” paintings and how they can only go so far in a couple of hours

I aimed to preserve the intent of the paintings as much as possible while “finishing” them. About half were signed so I’ve left those visible and noted them in the titles. The frames are unfinished pine that I also “finished” in the same areas as the paintings. I hope you enjoy them!

Bay Bridge \ Anonymous

Bay Bridge \ Anonymous

Lake Sunset \ Chausett

Lake Sunset \ Chausett

Underwater \ Anonymous

Underwater \ Anonymous

Cherry Blossoms \ Shae

Cherry Blossoms \ Shae

Winter Forest \ Anonymous

Winter Forest \ Anonymous

Pumpkin \ Anonymous

Pumpkin \ Anonymous

Amaryllis \ Anonymous

Amaryllis \ Anonymous

Heartwood – JH

Heartwood – JH

Burnt Forest / Anonymous

Burnt Forest / Anonymous

Tropical Sailboat / Annie M

Tropical Sailboat / Annie M

City Sunset / AP

City Sunset / AP

Night Mountains / Brooke P

Night Mountains / Brooke P

Ocean Arches / Leslie

Ocean Arches / Leslie

Ocean Sunset / Anonymous

Ocean Sunset / Anonymous

Snowpeak Lake / Tammy

Snowpeak Lake / Tammy

“Natural Conclusions” – a new solo show at Kaleid Gallery

Natural Conclusions • Kaleid Gallery, March 2-30, 2018

Natural Conclusions • Kaleid Gallery, March 2-30, 2018

This March is my second solo show at Kaleid Gallery in downtown San José! It’s at the same venue as my first show, Prior Art, and the opening reception will be happening during San José’s First Friday art events. Come check it out!

Natural Conclusions – new paintings by Julie Meridian
March 3rd-30th, 2018 +reception Friday March 2nd 7-11pm
Kaleid Gallery, 88 S. 4th St. San Jose, CA
Open Tues-Sat 12-7pm (closed Sun & Mon)

About the show

How does someone else see or respond to the same place? What is unique in each person’s perception and expression? How can we value an experience as it is presented and also be thoughtful about progressing beyond it?

Natural Conclusions is a show of unexpected collaboration and second chances. Each painting was originally sourced from a local thrift store or flea market. Julie Meridian has chosen a portion of each to “complete” in her style, creating a study of contrasts in expressive power.

Re-paint: The Rooster’s Crown

The Rooster's Crown • 12.5" x 29"

The Rooster’s Crown • 12.5″ x 29″

This is the last of 6 calendars I’ve re-painted with Chinese folktales in time for the Lunar New Year 2017. While it’s the Year of the Rooster, I’ve heard that the Chinese calendar alternates masculine and feminine years so it is more accurately the Year of the Hen. A fire hen, at that!

This calendar’s story is about how the rooster got his crown. In the early days of the earth, there were nine suns which scorched the plants and cause people to live in caves. A famous archer, Yi, shoots down eight of the suns using a pond’s reflection. The ninth sun goes into hiding, casting the land into darkness. The rooster is the only one who can coax it to come back out, and for that, he is granted his crown (comb).

Like the sheep calendar, this one has oversize flowers too. There’s also a little lazy duplication in the green plants by the chicks where the same art is copied and resized slightly. I also ended up painting out extraneous plants along the top and side edges to balance out the composition better.

Original calendar

Original calendar

Background colored

Background colored

Water added, branch removed

Water added, branch removed

Re-paint: The Farmer’s Fence

The Farmer's Fence • 12.5" x 30"

The Farmer’s Fence • 12.5″ x 30″

This calendar re-paint is about a story of a farmer who loses a sheep because a wolf snuck through a broken part of a fence. His neighbors tell him he should fix the fence, but he is too focused on the loss of the sheep. The next night, the wolf returns and he loses more sheep. It is a cautionary tale about not dwelling on the past.

This calendar features an odd visual quirk I noticed on some of them – the sense of proportion gets really odd with the foliage. The flowers in the midground are massive. I imagine the calendar designs are just combining pieces of illustrations. On the Rooster calendar, it’s pretty clear these are different illustrations combined together.

I opted to paint similar flowers at a more accurate scale by the resting sheep. That area originally had italicized text in a similar color scheme that read “Good Luck!”

In each of the calendars I’ve chosen one element to outline, and here I opted to keep the fence relatively flat and cartoon-like. I added more subtle detail in the grass by using brown to indicate the (now treadworn) path through the broken fence.

Original calendar

Original calendar

Good Luck!

Good Luck!

Background filled in

Background filled in

Re-paint: The Monkey’s Loss

The Monkey's Loss • 12.5" x 30"

The Monkey’s Loss • 12.5″ x 30″

This calendar re-paint reflects a Chinese folktale about a little monkey who came down from the mountain. It took a little while to find a folktale about monkeys that was not about the Monkey King, a story too big to illustrate here and usually depicting the Monkey King with a more human-like body (plus clothing).

The monkey, coming down from the mountain, is excited to find peaches and gathers them. Further down, he finds corn and abandons the peaches for that. Continuing on, the corn is left behind in favor of a watermelon. Then a rabbit rushes by, and he drops the watermelon to pursue it. After a chase, the rabbit is lost and the monkey ends up with nothing.

The illustration on this calendar is the most abstract one of the calendars I found in how it uses blotches of colors for the monkeys, rocks, and leaves. The monkeys were originally so blotchy that I filled in all of their white areas with yellow ochre so they’d stand out from the rock and sky. Still: did you notice there are three? I didn’t at first.

On a few of these repaints I’ve ended up painting out additional foliage from the edges because it was too distracting. I left the sky pretty simple since the rock and plants have a lot of texture.

Original calendar

Original calendar

Sides painted

Sides painted

Before adding details

Before adding details

Chinese Folktales on Repainted Calendars

Chinese Folktales (all 6 calendar repaints)

Chinese Folktales (all 6 calendar repaints)

Scrolls are easy to transport

Scrolls are easy to transport

For the new year I’ve finished a small set of art I started originally back in 2009. Each of these started off as a giveaway calendar from a Chinese restaurant. I’ve been collecting these and “repainting” them by painting over everything except the main image. I attempted to match both the colors and the painting style of the printed art as best I could to preserve the original look as much as possible.

Based on the animal (or fish) on each one, I chose a related Chinese folktale or mythology to illustrate. I also chose one element to outline to make it stand out. I watched a lot of cartoons growing up and always found the juxtaposition of a painted background with a flat, outlined animation cel set a particular tone about what merited attention.

Here they are in the window display at Kaleid Gallery, from left to right:

The Dragon God
Dragons are symbols of power, strength, and good luck, and have particular control over water.

The Monkey’s Loss
The monkeys abandoned peaches for corn, and then watermelons, and then lost it all in pursuit of a rabbit.

The Farmer’s Fence
The farmer, mourning the loss of a sheep after the fence broke, fails to mend it and later loses more.

The Rabbit In the Moon
The rabbit is a companion of the moon goddess Chang’e, and uses a mortar and pestle to pound the elixir of life.

Ye Xian (the “Chinese Cinderella”)
Ye Xian, a peasant girl, befriends a magical carp who helps her win the hand of the prince.

The Rooster’s Crown
After a skilled archer shot the eight suns, the ninth hid away until the rooster could coax it out.

Re-paint: Ye Xian (the “Chinese Cinderella”)

Ye Xian (the "Chinese Cinderella") • 12.5" x 30"

Ye Xian (the “Chinese Cinderella”) • 12.5″ x 30″

Update: This is the first of what ended up being a series of Chinese folktale calendar repaints.

This is the third repaint of a calendar: this time the story I ended up picking is the “Chinese Cinderella”, Ye Xian.

Every year House of Chu in SJ gives out these calendar scrolls for the (Roman) calendar year with descriptions from the Chinese zodiac. The calendars aren’t always correlated to the nearest Chinese zodiac year, but they always have some kind of interesting illustration on them. I use the illustration as the base for a painting of Chinese folktales and mythology: so far, the association between dragons and water gods, and the rabbit in the moon.

I wasn’t sure what to do with this one when I first started, so I painted over the calendar portions and filled in the overall color scheme. I have one more calendar to go (the one with horses) so I filled that one in at the same time too. I kept the other calendars nearby for reference about the overall feel, and after staring at the koi one for a while decided I should fill in more fish. While thinking about fish, I remembered the “Chinese Cinderella” story. I mimicked the style of the fish and painted in the large golden koi and a few others.

By this point I knew I’d make the lilypads the most prominent repeated elements, outlined in black like the clouds and river in the previous calendars. I also wanted to have a hint of Ye Xian here, reaching out to the fish. I couldn’t eyeball the right spots to put them in, so I needed to mock up what to do next. At this time Adobe announced a few new drawing apps, so I tried out Adobe Sketch on the iPad. It didn’t really suit the precision and duplication I needed for this style of mockup, but I made do with a very basic, very rough sketch.

While that was enough to get the lilypads in the right place, it was just looking off. I realized it was just looking way too busy. I took a fresh photo and reworked it in Photoshop to simplify it. The most confusing part ended up being the bushy plant at the top. Once I took that out, it was easy to fix it in Photoshop and pretty straightforward to paint it. When I actually repainted it, I left hints of it visible since it looked like an underwater plant.

The original calendar

The original calendar

Making a "blank" canvas

Making a “blank” canvas

Adding the pink

Adding the pink

Hello fish!

Hello fish!

Adobe Sketch mockup

Adobe Sketch mockup

Hand modeling

Hand modeling

Just...busy

Just…busy

The Photoshop mockup

The Photoshop mockup

Nearly done

Nearly done

Re-paint: Rabbit In the Moon

Rabbit In the Moon • 12.5" x 30"

Rabbit In the Moon • 12.5″ x 30″

Update: This is the first of what ended up being a series of Chinese folktale calendar repaints.

Sometimes–actually, often–I get stuck on paintings. Sometimes I get stuck from being unsure how to fix a layout, or get a certain color or texture, and just need to set it aside so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. Sometimes, though, it just feels like the wrong time. That’s what happened on this one. I knew I wanted to create another in the same vein as the original House of Chu calendar repaint I did a few years ago, and began by painting out all of the calendar parts. It was the middle of winter, and I just couldn’t motivate myself to work on it while it was cold and gray. The only thing that came to my mind was Bunnicula, or just painting some extra blossoming branches into it. I didn’t really want to do either, so I left it out and hoped for inspiration to strike.

Spring seemed to do the trick. A week ago, after a passing glance at the mist, it occurred to me that I could fill the rest with a meandering creek to echo the shape of the Great Wall and the mist. I took a picture and sketched out what it would look like in Photoshop, and while doing that realized I could make a nice big reflection of the moon–specifically, the “rabbit in the moon“. Perfect!

I had an idea now and a fitting deadline of Easter, so here’s the progression I went through this week to finish this up. The creek and the grass detail came easily. I thought I’d see if I’d stay motivated by alternating between painting this and painting a few miniatures with the extra colors as I went (verdict: kind of). It slowed down when I got to the moon, as it took a bit of trial and error. And then: stuck again! As I looked at my sketch I decided the blossom reflections were too noisy, but I wasn’t sure what else to do.

I’d kept the first repaint next to it the whole time to get a sense of how they’d work together, so I studied it closely. I saw that I should add more of a border back along the sides for a similar look. That wouldn’t be enough though. I hadn’t considered adding any illustrative or outlined areas like the clouds and dragon foot, and saw now that it was the biggest omission. I outlined the creek on my printed sketch, and it seemed right; but despite the test run it felt much more uncertain when I started actually painting it. It was either going to fix it or really screw it up, as it wouldn’t be easy to correct. I only felt certain once I saw it done and could see that the visual theme held.

Now that I have the theme, I would love to make more if I can track down another chinese zodiac scroll calendar or two.

The original calendar

First step: block it out

No more calendar!

Kicked back in

Greenery, filled in

Cross-training

The start of the moon

Stuck, just before done

Re-paint: The Dragon God

The Dragon God • 12.5" x 29"

The Dragon God • 12.5″ x 29″

Update: This is the first of what ended up being a series of Chinese folktale calendar repaints.

There’s a Chinese restaurant called House of Chu within walking distance that looked somewhat questionable from the front, but once we finally went in, it ended up pretty tasty. For some reason they were also giving away calendar scrolls. I’ve been looking for interesting things for re-paint projects that wouldn’t involve a nearly-complete re-paint, and this was just the ticket.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with it, so as a first step I mixed up a similar yellow to fill in the background. I opted not to fill in the calendar areas entirely, so if you look closely you can see some of the dates along the side, and “San Jose” around the bottom. I have no clue what it said originally in the top left.

The first time I saw this I imagined water flowing down the steps and into the courtyard. Why? Heck if I know. I added it, flowing magically from a spot inside of the building and it looked right. And then I got utterly stuck about what to do next. I knew I wanted to add something in the sky above the whole thing, possibly clouds or cranes. I’d taken a photo of the scroll-in-progress and attempted to use the Brushes iPhone app to sketch out the clouds while on the train to SF one day. After less-than-stellar results, so I ditched that approach.

I decided to dig around and see if there were any stories from Chinese mythology involving water. I found a few promising deities but next to no stories, and none seemed like a good match. But Chinese dragons–ah ha. Those have both the association with water and the weather, and can fly. Dragons it is! I used Photoshop for a test run of the clouds, and the dragon foot. One reference printout and a bit of painting later, and it’s done.

Never actually used this for its intended purpose.

The mighty House of Chu

There's a little sun-speckling on the "before", and I forgot to grab the camera before beginning to paint. Oops!

Before/after: mountains

Again, I started painting over the steps prior to the "before" photo.

Before/after: courtyard

Fast and easy to try out, assuming I've taken good photos (which always ends up an afterthought on these).

Photoshop mockup of clouds