At the gallery

I am really honored, and to be honest, quite surprised that my work got selected into the Meadows to Mountains show that Plein Air Washington held this year. Being on the same walls as so many of the artists that I admire is quite the thrill.

Last year, my entry was rejected, and this year it was accepted. It could just be chance that this year's jurors liked my painting, and last year's did not. But I hope it means that I've grown as a painter.

Time for apples

When I was a kid growing up in the Philippines, apples were kind of special. It was a fruit from a faraway temperate climate country. It was expensive and a special treat that you might get to eat at Christmas time. Over the years though, apples got abundant, and now you can get apples pretty much cheaply at any time you want.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, I know it's fall when the grocery store piles the apples up high. And I am reminded that I live in an incredibly abundant time and in an incredibly abundant place. I am quite thankful for that.

The Mountain Beyond

A few weeks back we had a most fun paintout at the Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan area, stayinga the mountaineers lodge there with a large group of artists. The mountain in the background here is Mt. Shuksan. This scene was so captivating I did two paintings of it. In this one, I chose to do a fairly abstract treatment, but hopefully still recognizable as a landscape.

I find this area so inspiring. And to be able to experience it with other artists is an honor and a blessing.

Clouds over Whistler

It is sometimes hard to carve out time to paint when you are traveling with non-artist friends. But on a recent Labor Day trip with some good friends to Whistler, BC, my friends graciously let me paint for a couple hours. This was the result of that effort. It was cold and cloudy up on that mountain, but thankfully it did not rain.


The biggest challenge for me in this painting was trying to figure out how to separate the sky from the mountains when the snow caps and the light part of the sky had practically the same values. I don't think I succeeded completely here, but hopefully it still has the sense of being up on a mountain on a cloudy day.


As it starts to get colder, I guess I'm starting to gravitate back to still life and figurative painting, though this one was done a few weeks ago. Do I have a style? I kind of think I do, even though I haven't really been focusing on developing one.

On Gold Creek Pond

At the time I was painting this, I was actually trying to figure out if there was a nice place to paint Gold Creek itself. It didn't occur to me that it was the height of summer, and we had a drought. The creek was pretty much dry, so I decided to paint the tree by the pond.

Wow, it's been a few weeks since I last posted, huh. I had hoped to post one painting a week in the summer, but I've been having a difficult time finding the discipline to paint regularly, and then taking pictures of them and posting. Let's see if I can post on a more regular cadence soon.

By the Skagit River

What better thing to do than paint on sunny afternoon at a park in Mt. Vernon, by the Skagit river. Last time I was painting in this location, it was raining and I got what I think is a nice  moody painting out of it. This time the weather is completely different, and I hope I caught some of that summer weekend vibe.

The Old Chapel

This is a painting of the little chapel in Seattle's Discovery Park. The chapel was built in World War II. I've never seen it open, so I guess it doesn't really get used anymore. It still adds charm to the park though.

I went to discovery park that day with Emiliya Lane, who suggested it wen I was looking for a good painting spot in the Seattle area. I'm so glad to have met many artist friends who share these wonderful plein air locations with me.

By the pond

I've been trying to push my values a lot, making the darks really dark, and pushing the far objects much lighter than they appear to my eye. Maybe in this one I pushed the darks too far. But I guess we need to push if we want to go far.

If I haven't been posting much it's because I've been spending a lot of time cycling this summer. And while it is fun, I get home too exhausted to take pictures of my paintings, let alone blog.  Cycling is super fun though. I just did the Seattle to Portland bike ride. At 200 miles over 2 days, it's quite the challenge. Here's me on the STP bike ride:

Both painting and cycling have something in common for me: I'm not naturally good at either! But I enjoy them and I practice at them. And somehow I get better. Back in February, doing even 20 miles was a struggle, and last week I did 200. I hope the same goes with my painting efforts, slowly things that are difficult become less so, and things that seem impossible become only difficult. That is my hope.

Meadow Trail

I painted this at Evan's Creek Preserve, a nice wilderness park just a short drive from my house. Familiarity can sometimes blind us to the beauty that's just outside our door. But one thing I love about living where I am is that there's a lot of parks and trails to go to, and thus there is never a lack of things for a painter to paint. 

Also, I have to apologize for not posting a painting for nearly a month! I have been painting. I am having a difficult time however with the little details of getting the paintings on my blog. Signing them, taking a decent photo, writing a description, and putting it up for auction. It takes but an hour (sometimes more, writing takes time!), to do all that, but somehow it's difficult to find the time to do it.

Anyway, I'm trying hard to get on a regular schedule again.

Dreaming of Sedona

I was looking through pictures I've taken this year, and one picture I took at Sedona really called out to me, so I decided to paint it. My trip to Sedona was a couple of months ago, but it feels like a long time has passed already. It was a truly inspiring location.

Alder Woods

Have you had that experience where you are in a wooded area and the whole scene in front of you evokes both wonder and calm? Then you get your camera and take a picture of it, and all you get is a wall of unappetizing green. The reason, I think is that what we feel in the woods is only partly what we see. It's also the cool breeze we feel, the rustling of the leaves, the crunch of the ground underfoot as we walk. It's not easy to take a picture of that, and it's not easy to paint it either.

This painting is as far as my abilities go in trying to capture my experience of a wooded area. I hope at least I have conveyed some of it.

P.S., I did not grow up in the US, so I actually don't know a lot about what the local flora are called. But my fellow artists helpfully mentioned that these were alder trees I was painting.


Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island is a stunningly beautiful park in the middle of the island. The grounds are superbly maintained, and I encourage people to go visit when they are in Bainbridge. This willow by the pond really caught my eye, and it was quite impossible to ignore, really.

Dealing with all the greens were quite a challenge for me with this painting. Also, you might have noticed my recent efforts at trying to get better drawing accuracy. Getting tree forms to look like a certain kind of tree rather than just a mass of green was also quite the challenge.

I have more about the Bainbridge Island paint out at the PAWA blog.

Umptanum Creek

This is the other painting I did in Ellensburg last week. I debated with myself whether to post this one... The water may be too flashy. But maybe I could use some flash in my paintings :). 

My last few paintings seem to contain water in them. Water is so essential to life that I think as human beings we are hardwired to being captivated by it. That's my excuse anyway.

Pond life

I painted this from a photo reference I took while painting a the Nisqually park earlier this year. Normally, I find it really difficult to paint from photos. I think that the colors are always different from what I remember them to be. This time, I tried pushing the colors to a more saturated level. I think it worked.

I might have to start taking more photo references.

Yakima River Canyon Morning

It's amazing how different the landscape is just a couple of hours drive away from Seattle. The Yakima River Canyon's basalt cliffs can rise up 2000 feet. I painted this scene under a pedestrian bridge with Melanie Thompson and Laura Gable, a couple of friends from Plein Air Washington's Eastern Washington contingent.

You can read about it at the Plein Air Washington blog. I am PAWA's blogger now, I think because I am one of the more active attendees of these plein air paintouts.

Cat Tails

This is my favorite from the Sedona workshop. We were painting by a scenic Oak Creek, a scenic river that goes through Sedona. I really enjoyed painting this, it reminded me that a bunch of dried grass can be just as enthralling as majestic red rocks. 

The day after painting these, I went and checked out various galleries in Sedona. One of them had an exhibit of Grand Canyon paintings. It was awe inspiring, I think the Grand Canyon is now on my painting spot bucket list.

Snoopy Rock

One of these rocks was supposed to look like Snoopy from a certain angle. But I guess not from our particular vantage point. This is of course another painting from the Sedona workshop with Michael Chesley Johnson. I set a personal goal that day of getting better at drawing accuracy. So I was really gratified when Michael told me that this painting was "well observed."

In other news, I'm having a lot of fun in my new job. The longer commute leaves me less time to paint though (that's an excuse, I'm also playing a lot of Dragon Age Inquisition). On the other hand riding the bus has given me opportunities to sketch. Here's one from today:

Afternoon at Cathedral Rock

I spent a week in Sedona early April, to attend a workshop with Michael Chesley Johnson. I got some goos critique and instruction, and great experience with the small group of people that attended the workshop. Sedona has some really interesting landscape, and really quite inspiring. 

The lesson for the day was values, and how you only needed 4 main values to convincingly convey a landscape. I set out on my own in the afternoon and tried to apply that principle into this painting. This was also my first painting that was nearly all done with a palette knife. It was fun and sometimes frustrating. As is so much in art, I guess!

Beyond the flowers

It's a rare thing tho have a landscape where half the painting is pink. But that's what you get when painting the tulip fields. There are so many interesting old barns in the Skagit valley. This one right by the tulip fields is kind of difficult to resist painting it.

Easter Tulips

Happy Easter! Couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of painting the tulip fields with some artist friends. I first saw the tulip fields in the Skagit Valley a few years ago during Easter weekend when my parents came to visit. They are truly magical.

I've long associated Easter with the oppressive heat and humidity of summer in the Philippines. Only when I came to the cooler climes of the US did I fully realize that Easter came with spring, and the apt metaphor for renewal and the rising to new life. Happy Easter everyone.


I raided my fridge for this one. I think the onion came out good. I tried really hard to get a more accurate drawing for this one, so if you look closely, you can see brush strokes where the corrections happened. 

Hello from Sedona by the way. I came to do a painting workshop with Michael Chesley Johnson, starting tomorrow. I haven't really explored much yet. But the landscape is already wowing me.


Tulips are in bloom right now in the area, two weeks earlier than ever, and I just came back from painting the tulip fields. I have some plein air paintings that I will post at some point. In the meantime, enjoy these tulips painted a couple of weeks earlier.

Peanut butter

This was a super fun painting to do. It's great when something you look at every day turns out to be a good painting subject.


My struggle with painting lately has been drawing accuracy. In this painting, I see quite a bit of inaccuracy in the drawing. That is, the angles and proportions of things are not quite right. I suspect as with many things in painting, that practice will make it easier to draw with more accuracy. Indeed, that it looks like a jar of peanut butter is better than I could have done even a couple of years ago.

Farewell Microsoft

I am writing this just after getting home from some Friday night drinks with a couple of colleagues. It's hard to imagine that from now on, we aren't colleagues anymore. It's true, after 7.5 years at Microsoft, I've surrendered my blue badge and am no longer a Microsoftie. I've worked on some incredible things at Microsoft over the years, and I'm incredibly proud of what I've done.

I'm both sad for leaving, but excited for what's next as well. What I'm gonna miss most of all are my teammates. My former teammates who were a Lync message away from sharing a laugh, or lending a shoulder to lean on; but especially my current teammates. I still can't believe that I won't come in everyday and see them at the office anymore. I already miss them all terribly.

Change happens though, and I think this one will be good for me. I will be working at Avvo starting April 6. In the meantime, I'm taking some time off to recharge.

Bag of Lemons

This was quite a challenge, the lemons and trying to paint an impression of a mesh bag. I don't know if I was entirely successful, but I'm trying to stretch myself.

Bag of lemons

It's been a mild winter here in the Seattle area, we actually had a few sunny days where I wanted to be painting outside. But between work and training for the STP, I've only been able to paint in the evenings. Still life and portraits are great and I love painting them; but I've been itching to paint outdoors. So, I'm quite excited to go out next week for Plein Air Washington's first paint-out at Nisqually next week.

Two Apples

Apples are a classic still life subject. And being in Washington state, why not paint them! I'm pretty happy with these apples, I feel like I've improved in how I paint them.

two apples

I've been thinking a lot about practice, and getting better at painting. I am working on my "brush miles" more, and I can see that I'm getting better. But it is still all too easy to be discouraged after making a bad painting. Or feel like you're not improving, or maybe feeling like you're not improving fast enough.
These days, I also think about whether I'm improving fast enough that some day I'll be good enough. Will I one day be able to paint the kinds of paintings that I want to paint? Maybe not, but does it really matter all that much? I paint because I like painting. It's one of the most enjoyable activities in my life. Of course I also want to get better. But for now, I paint because it's fun. And, that, I think, is good enough.

Enjoying the sunshine

I've been riding my bicycle a lot, lately. On this particular ride, I stopped to take a break at Log Boom Park in Seattle. There's a lovely little boardwalk/pier there. And it being a sunny day in February, there were a plenty of couples sitting in the sun. I took a quick snapshot of these guys and painted from the photo in the evening.

by the water


I'm taking a portrait drawing class in Bellevue college; and I've really been in the mood to do portraits lately. I've been offering to do portraits of my friends, with the condition that: a.) I will take their picture, b.) I'll post online whatever I painted, good or bad. In exchange, I will give them the portrait. Surprisingly few people took me up on the offer! Danko, my colleague, was brave enough to give it a go though:


As was my college buddy Glenn:
I did this of my sister Marion without asking for permission. I figure maybe my sister will be more forgiving if it came out too awful.
Each painting has some technical flaws, but I feel I've gotten better at them.

Edit: Oh, and finally a self portrait, I am never hesitant to give myself permission to paint myself!

self portrait

Bright Apple

Continuing on my experiments with brighter color schemes. I feel like I keep adding more white, but it ends up not being enough!

bright apple

High Key Pear

This is sort of an experiment in painting high key with little value- and even color-contrast. I often read on other artists pages that you shouldn't use too much white. I used a *lot* of white here!

High Key Pear


I've been reading Carol Marine's daily painting book, and am feeling inspired to paint more frequently. I feel like I've been doing pretty good at doing a bunch of work; last year I posted 38 paintings on my daily paintworks page, and a total of 55 paintings since I started posting there. According to the book, though, you need 500 hundred paintings to be any good at it. So I better hustle some more.

First and Union

I painted this from the Gritty City Challege picture that Robin Weiss put up on Daily Paintworks. When I saw the reference picture, I immediately recognized that it was the intersection of First and Union in Seattle, it is where the Seattle Art Museum is located. I've been on this very corner many times, and it's not really that gritty at all!

First and Union

I love cityscapes, but I have not always been successful painting them. While the challenge was to paint the scene as loosely as possible, I actually spent quite a while trying to get the angles sorted out. Not to get a perfect rendering of everything, but hopefully accurate enough to be believable.

Nature's Gift of Water

I was finally able to go to the "Nature's Gift of Water" art show in at the American Art Company in Tacoma; this is the annual juried art show by Plein Air Washington's members which is ongoing til Jan 31st. Boy, was it inspiring to see everyone's work there. The art show affirmed to me what I've observed throughout the PAWA paint outs I've been in: there are a lot of really exceptional and skilled artists in Plein Air Washington. And I guess I've been in a lot of PAWA paint outs since so many of the scenes in these paintings are so familiar!

Janice Kirstein's Paintings
Janice Webb Kistein's paintings remind me of warmer, drier days.
Even more gratifying, I think I've met most of the artists featured in the art show. Seeing the works of all these skilled artists in one spot is such a treat. The theme of "water" did not detract people from making art with varying subjects and styles. Misty Martin, who was manning the gallery asked me which was my favorite in the gallery. There were so many good works, I had trouble picking one, but finally pointed to Melanie Thompson's "Clouds Above the Columbia". I think Melanie is a master at depicting Eastern Washington's many charms.


Melanie Thompson's paintings
Melanie Thompson masterfully chronicles the majesty and charm of Eastern Washington
But everyone's work was exceptional, from Karen Whitworth's atmospheric "Coastal Escape", to Yara Damian's "Turquoise Sea," with its unique top-down view. All the artwork can be seen online on American Art Co.'s website, but I encourage you to go see it in person if you're in the area. One thing I noticed with pictures is that it never really captures the texture of the painting, and you can only experience that dimension by looking at the real thing.
Looking at these paintings really made me feel excited about the upcoming paint-outs this year. I joined the PAWA board this year, and I believe we have a great line-up of upcoming paint outs. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, and not a Plein Air Washington member,  I encourage you to join; we welcome everyone at any skill level. I remember when I joined a couple of years ago, I've not done many paintings at that point, but everyone welcomed and encouraged me. There is nothing like painting in nature, but painting outside together with other artists is even better.
P.S. While you're in the area, check out Tacoma Art Museum's amazing "Art of the American West" exhibit.

Tulum Beach

I spent the Christmas holiday with some friends touring around the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. I decided to lug around my painting gear in case we had some free time. I did get some time to paint towards the end of the trip, in Tulum. We had a pretty basic beach-side cottage, where I painted on the beach! The sun was so nice, and a much needed break from the dreary Seattle winter.

In fact, it's been so dark with all the clouds here in the Seattle area that it's really hard to take a picture of the painting in natural light. So I've resorted to scanning the painting. Scanning produces a slightly over-saturated, too-sharp picture I think, where you can even see the nooks and crannies of the paper. In this picture, you might even be able to see some of the sand embedded in this painting. Maybe I should call this a mixed-media work, haha.

tulum beach

Anyway, happy new year! It's that time again to think about resolutions. This year, I have one painting-related resolution. I decided to budget some money to buy art. I've met so many artists since I started painting, and so many of them make really beautiful art that I wish I could have. And I realized, well... if I bought them, I could have them! Of course, I can't just buy a Monet off the street, but I could probably still afford some good original art. Obviously buying art also supports artists, many of whom are my friends. That's not a bad thing too.