A Spiritual Journey

A Spiritual Journey

"Even a photographer cannot fully capture the real beauty in nature. He can take multiple pictures and try to pick the best moment, but an artist can capture the beauty in his mind and bring out that feeling – and only that is comparable to nature." 

This quote is used throughout my website and fliers because it represents the philosophy behind my art. The actual beauty and feelings you experience when you are in nature cannot be captured from taking a photograph.

I was inspired to paint this piece while I was driving through the Rockies on the way home from an exhibition. I noticed how beautiful the scenery was, so I parked my car and watched the sun hit the sand and rocks, creating a beautiful gold color. I sought to capture the effect of the sun on the rocks by applying gold powder to my resin mix to create the painting... Click here to read more

Oceana SeaChange Summer Party & Works in Progress

The 2017 SeaChange Summer Party took place on July 15, 2017 in Laguna Beach, CA. It was the 10 year anniversary of the SeaChange Summer Party. The beautiful reception was held at Villa di Sogni in Laguna Beach, and the venue fittingly provided stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Special guests included actor and OCEANA Board Member Sam Waterston, and actress and animal welfare advocate Lily Tomlin. Actor, ocean advocate and Oceana spokesman Ted Danson acted as Master of Ceremonies. The night held many honors for me. In addition to having my work "The Free Swimmers" included in the luxury auction, "Turtle's Voyages" was used for all the signage including the auction banner, program book, and invitations. My painting "Marine Life" was used as the background to introduce the speakers.

"Turtle's Voyages" used in event fliers, invitations, and program book

"Turtle's Voyages" used in event fliers, invitations, and program book

lily tomlin background
"Marine Life" was used in the stage background introducing the speakers

"Marine Life" was used in the stage background introducing the speakers

 

It's always nice to meet and connect with fellow artists and that night I met the JoJo Bros, a brother artist duo from Orange County, and Georgeana Ireland, a paint and mixed media artist. Both artists also had work that was part of the luxury auction. The event also provided networking opportunities. Soon I will be signing on to sell originals through Pacific Sculpture Gallery in Newport Beach and possibly another gallery in Hawaii.

SeaChange auction floor

SeaChange auction floor

The SeaChange Summer Party wasn’t just about art. Serious issues were discussed too. One of the speakers shared a tragic and moving story of a local well-known humpback whale named Scarlet that recently died off of Newport Beach. It is speculated that she died from lingering exhaustion from her brush with fishing lines. One of Oceana's main fights is to stop the usage of trawl fishing nets. Trawling is typically used to catch fish or shrimp, but catching unwanted species is a problem for trawlers because any species that is not small enough to pass through the net's mesh openings gets trapped and killed, like turtles and whales.

SeaChange venue Villa di Sogni in Laguna Beach, CA

SeaChange venue Villa di Sogni in Laguna Beach, CA

Now back to the studio… I am working on some new paintings. This one is the beginning of what is going to be a fish painting. I intend to have the fishes hiding in rocks and caves and I may even paint the Garibaldi fish again. The Garibaldi is the official marine state fish of California and is protected in Californian coastal waters.

closeup garibaldi painting new
New painting in progress. I intend to paint the Garibaldi fish hiding in the rocks and caves underwater.

New painting in progress. I intend to paint the Garibaldi fish hiding in the rocks and caves underwater.

 

The next two paintings here are two panels. They were poured from the same mix of epoxy resin and wet pigment colors. The pair will complement each other and could be placed side by side. The patterns remind me of waves crashing into tide pool rocks. I intend to make them into tide pool paintings and will be adding sea urchins, star fish, crabs, barnacles. If you look closely at these photos, you will see bubbles and patterns. While some artists may try to get rid of these or paint over them, I like to preserve them and paint the subject matter around them. They will end up looking like beautiful rock formations that you see in a tide pool.

New tide pool themed painting. There are two panels with this similar background poured from the same mix of resin and mix of pigment colors.

New tide pool themed painting. There are two panels with this similar background poured from the same mix of resin and mix of pigment colors.

Closeup of new painting in progress. The beautiful bubbles and patterns from the resin will be left unchanged. As I paint around them, they will resemble rocks and rock formations you see in a tide pool.

Closeup of new painting in progress. The beautiful bubbles and patterns from the resin will be left unchanged. As I paint around them, they will resemble rocks and rock formations you see in a tide pool.

I love hearing from you, so please leave a comment, or e-mail me with any questions or suggestions about what you'd like to see on the blog. Please share this with any art lovers that may be interested.

 


 

 

Oceana's SeaChange Summer Party

Oceana's SeaChange Summer Party

I am honored that my work has been selected as the program and event art for the 10 year anniversary of ocean conservation group Oceana's SeaChange Summer Party, one of Orange County's most prestigious galas. This year’s special guests will include; Sam Waterston, Lily Tomlin, and Ted Danson. See the "Turtle's Voyages" painting on the SeaChange event home page.

My painting "The Free Swimmers" will be auctioned off to support the worthy cause of protecting the health of our oceans and marine life. See the painting listed in the auction catalog here.

Almost 30 Years of Art

Welcome to my new blog! I have been an artist for almost 30 years and have been fortunate enough to connect with many people over those years. I wanted to start this blog as a way to keep in touch with past fans and collectors, as well as future fans and collectors. Here you'll find interesting stories about my life as an artist, the inspiration behind my pieces, updates on new artwork, behind the scenes photos, local event invitations and more. The blog will be updated every one to two months, so please keep checking for new content.

It makes sense to begin the blog with some insight into one of my first pieces, "7 Horses". I'll take you back to where it began. This piece is one of the first paintings in the mixed-media style that I now work in. When I attended the National College of Fine Arts in Saigon, South Vietnam, I learned the traditional Vietnamese style of water color on silk. This technique was difficult to control because throughout the process, colors were applied and blended on wet silk. The silk is set to dry, then washed, but retains some stains of colors. Then, colors are applied again and the process is repeated many times until the colors dye to the fiber of the silk. From this technique, I have learned to control and blend liquid colors on wet surfaces. In 1998, I discovered and started using epoxy paint - a liquid resin that floats like water and has a beautiful effect. I would not have been able to paint "7 Horses" in the traditional watercolor on silk style. This could only be done with my new mixed media style.

I was born in Vietnam and I have fond memories of watching American Westerns as a child. The idea for this painting came from watching horses run, kicking up dirt and dust. The movement itself is so beautiful, but if you were to pause (take a snapshot, or paint realistically), it would not be so beautiful anymore – you would see the animals’ legs, hooves, etc. in great detail. What you found beautiful was the motion itself. I tried to capture the motion, the action, by using line art to highlight the muscles, and by using contrasting colors to make the painting lively.

I'm often asked why I chose to paint seven horses. Part of the beauty of art is that everyone will have a different view of it. The theories about this piece are more exciting than the real reason behind my choice. Some people think I chose seven for religious reasons (seven days of creation in Genesis), others (Asian people) ask why I chose seven because it is an unlucky number in Asian (Chinese and Vietnamese) culture. The real reason is that it was just a coincidence that I ended up with seven. It just happened that way for composition purposes in the painting. I felt like I needed more horses here and there to complement the pattern, or to add more color or motion in another part of the painting. Every time I go to a show, people point out that they can find more than seven horses. I’ve heard eight, or nine now!

How many horses do you see?

I love hearing from you, so please leave a comment, or e-mail me with any questions or suggestions about what you'd like to see on the blog.