Friday, December 7, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Digital Painting - Hunny Sunbathing

Here is a quick sketch I made on my phone of the adorable Hunny having one of her many daily sun baths.

I love this tool! No mess or equipment. Sure, it's not the same feeling as when using oils and physically creating a piece, but it is a great way to quickly capture a moment.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Black Diversion Channel, near Seven Bar Loop

Black Diversion Channel, near Seven Bar Loop
oil on panel, 12 x 12
This is my first, official, New Mexico painting.

I had fun with this one. I used the palette knife for the first time without using it only for highlights here and there. 90% of this painting was made with the knife. It takes a bit to get used to, and though i haven't mastered the tool, i feel very comfortable with it. Once you get the hang of it, it is an amazing way to slap on the paint, not only on the canvas, but on the paletter as well, i loved mixing the paint with the palette knife. Definitely looking forward to using it a lot more.

This is the Black Diversion Channel of the Black Arroyo, near the street Seven Bar Loop in Albuquerque, not far from my place. There is a small park and walking/biking trail along the channel, a very beautiful place, as is all of New Mexico.

This area is quickly becoming one of my favorite places.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

digital painting

"Watching TV"
digital painting, 1024 x 682 pixels
I was never a fan of digital paintings. I always considered them cheating in a way due to the ease of undo, and the virtually unlimited color palette.

I have seen some amazing digital artwork out there, but always in the back of my mind was that thought "yeah, but they're cheating!"

I can now honestly say, don't knock till you've tried it. First off, and one of the most important things that completely turned me around on the matter is the lack of equipment one needs to lug around. All you need is an iphone (as in my case) and a stylus. The stylus helps tremendously.

There is no mess to clean up, no muddy palette colors, no turpentine. No worries on materials at all, leaving the mind free to completely concentrate on the creation process.

And! Using the image above as a sample: I always want to paint night scenes, especially everyday subjects such as watching tv. There is no need for obtrusive lights to illuminate the palette and canvas. It is perfect.

The image above is just a test. I was curious as to how it would work, and having experimented all night with the app. I can say I have changed my opinion on digital paintings.

I plan to use the digital method as a sketch, then use the sketches to create larger paintings in the studio. The idea of offering prints of these images is swimming around in my head, we shall see.

For now, I got a new toy to play with!

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Oil on Panel, 5 x 7

Painting comes framed in a custom made colonial style black frame.
Payment options available, email me for more information.
Contact Me: Email

One day, while walking back from the grocery store, I came across a dead wasp. Having already a mini collection of dead insects to serve as still life models at home, which consist of: a roach, two flies, and an odd looking dragon fly, i knew this little guy was next.

I picked him up very carefully by one of the wings. I wasn't entirely positive that it was actually deceased, or just knocked out, or napping. Caution had to be taken, but it was indeed dead.

Brought it back home and added it to the insect area, where it remained for a few weeks until i finally decided to pay tribute to the life of this creature, by immortalizing it in a painting.

I love the way the wasp looks, it's design sleek and aerodynamic. One key way of seeing it pops in my head every time, this is a soldier. It is designed for stealth and speed. It is camouflaged to blend in to many areas, and deadly when necessary. An extraordinary creation.

One thing that grabs my attention about the way this and other insects are "designed" is their mechanical nature. Observing this creature up close, it is a full on mini machine, it's exoskeleton appears to be an armor, a vehicle that is currently not being operated, and all it requires is for the right spark to turn it back on.

i'm on the look-out for the next insect candidate, but for now i am happy with the way the wasp painting turned out.

Onto the next one.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dirty Love Bunny

Dirty Love Bunny
Oil on Panel, 12 x 12
Still Life

I had fun with this one. That appears to be the key to the good ones, just letting go and not stress over correctness and precision.

I had been wasting time all day, waiting for 4:30 to head out somewhere for an appointment. I don't like to start anything if i eventually have to leave it half way. I like to be there in front of it from start to finish. So i spent the day just pacing around, finding small things to do to pass the time.

Around 3pm, on my way back from 7 11, i thought to myself, "I could paint something real quick just for the hell of it, or keep doing nothing" I went with the decision to paint.

On the way in to my little studio, i saw this guy on the metal table outside in the back yard. The dogs have had it for years. They've played with it. Fought for it. Relieved their sexual tension with it. It was ugly, used, abused, and perfect for my quick thrill.

The initial drawing was kept simple, just the basic outline made with suggestive strokes of Burnt Sienna, just enough to get the gesture of it, no need wasting time in a detailed drawing was a primary thought in this step.

I then moved on to the dark areas, the shadow under and around the bunny for example, trusting my initial gesture, and not worrying about covering the canvas in an initial color wash as i usually do.

Keeping the paint thick and colorful, I moved on through different areas of the piece, working from dark to light, layering the strokes and continuing this way until i finished by adding the lights and highlights at the end.

All in all, this magical process took me a little over an hour to complete this painting, enough time to sit back and study it before i had to leave at 4:30pm, proud of myself for not having wasted more of my time doing nothing.

I owe a great deal of thanks to the current working process of using way more paint than i used to, as well as the hand held wooden palette, that has changed the way i work completely. But the main thanks goes out to the constant reminder i had in my head, one thing i had to catch myself and return to several times, take it easy and have fun!

Now on to the next one.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Big Sur trip

on the edge of the world (photo courtesy of Ssurge)
Went camping over the weekend in Big Sur, CA. That place is gorgeous! Was there from Friday through Monday. At first we had some trouble finding a camp site due to someone's lack of planning (me) but ended up finding the perfect spot in Big Sur State Park.

We took a drive to the top of a hill i like to sit at when i visit the area, and painted the view:

Big Sur 01
Oil on Panel, 9 x 12 Plein Air

I love the way this one worked out. Brush strokes, color, composition. It felt good being up there, though there was a lot of wind, and it was surprisingly cold for it being summer.

on top of the hill, on a cold summer day (photo courtesy of Ssurge)

I had taken my Easyl pochade box and was planning on using it heavily, but on arriving, I accidently broke one of the tripod legs for the easel and could not use it. Luckily, I had also packed my homemade Cigar Box easel which proved its worth tremendously!

Painting by the Ocean (photo courtesy of Ssurge)

On Sunday we drove down the coast to an area that has cliffs one can walk out to and hang out. I love this area, a very peaceful place amongst the cows. We walked all the way to the edge of the ocean, and painted from there.

Big Sur 02
Oil on Panel, 9 x 12 Plein Air Painting
I hate to admit this, but the piece above is not one of my best. So much could have been done different, from approach to design, but, though not bad, I can still use it as reference for a new painting, so even though it did not turn out the masterpiece that it could have been, it still has its purpose.

enjoying a cool drink after a day of hard work (photo courtesy of Ssurge)

All in all, it was a great trip and a much needed vacation from the city life. I always hate coming back, and hope to one day return permanently to the area. But for now, i will keep close the memories of this recent trip.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Metro: Through the Eyes of Artists Posters

"Rosemead Blvd Underpass, Near Whittier Blvd."
Oil on Panel, 11 x 20

Metro: Through the Eyes of Artists Posters

I was selected as one of three artists for this years "Through the Eyes of Artists Posters" Metro project.
The focus of this years poster is the city of Pico Rivera, Ca, my current area of residency.

This one was a bit tough at first, I couldn't figure out what to paint. There is no "landmark" here in Pico, sure there's the Sports Arena, the Pio Pico House, and the Walmart, but they don't lend themselves for picturesque purposes. Not for this project, at least not through my eyes.

Other cities have a stand out landmark which make this process easier, for example, Hollywood has the Hollywood sign, and the walk of fame. Echo Park has the park with the lake and all that, etc.

I was stuck for a while there, i knew i wanted to make the painting of the everyday area, I asked for suggestions from friends and family, a few suggested Smith Park, which had crossed my mind but once again, when i went to investigate, it just did not look right, there was too much to possibly crop down comfortably to make into one composition.

It is my friend Gaby who deserves all the thanks on this one, her suggestion sparked the idea behind this painting. She said that every time she was driving to Pico, she knew she was there when she got to the Rosemead underpass, this was for her, the stand out landmark. I loved the idea.

Seeing this through the eyes of the everyday passenger of said Metro services, as my friend Gaby had pointed out, this visual landmark let her know she was in Pico Rivera, and as with her, i imagine many Metro customers use such visual aids on their commute so as to know when they are near, or have arrived at their destination, i.e., when i pass the McDonald's near the Target, i have two more stops to go, or after i see the Rose Hills sign near the 605 freeway, I get off the bus on Norwalk, or in this case, once they see the Rosemead underpass, get off on the next stop, Whittier Blvd.

But that's not all! (as they say in the infomercials) These Underpasses, because there's more than one, there are several all around Pico Rivera, and there's a new one under construction on Passons Blvd at the moment. They serve as a gateway into the heart of the city of Pico Rivera, where the majority of the commercial areas are located. It was perfect.

I loved working on this one, everything, from the atmospheric effects, to color choices and brushwork, worked out the way it was meant to be.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

artists palette

rectangular palette

A great contributor to my recent exploratory techniques and methods, was my decision to switch, for the foreseeable future, to the hand held artists palettes such as the one pictured above.

It is quite a different experience form the table top glass palette i had been using. It has a very personal feel to it, you have it nestled in your hand and arm, and it is a part of your physical being while working, an extension of yourself.

I've noticed my colors have brightened up a bit, I am almost instinctively using a lot more paint and much less turpentine.

I believe this is due to the fact that the palette is literally in close proximity to my eyes. I don't have to look too far down and see the colors i am mixing from way up above. All i need is there, the brightness, the values, the hues, all in a compact area on my left arm.

Working with these types of palettes, the painting experience has become much more personal, i feel i am really into the process, not necessarily leaving little room for doubt, but it's almost like there is no doubt, whatever little doubts there are are being taken care right before my eyes in the mixing process on the palette.

This whole palette thing began one day not long ago while i was cleaning around in my studio and came across a paint box i had not used in a while, i opened it and saw the rectangular palette. I played around with it for a bit, pretended what it would be like to paint with it, and it felt natural.

A few days later i was getting bored of my usual working routine, and decided to have some fun and use the rectangular palette, i even added some turp and Linseed oil to the little clip on pots it came with. Needless to say now, i love every second of it, it was a revitalization my mind had been in a much need of for a while now.

oval palette

I also bought a round, oval palette, since this is what i always see all the "painters" using, figured i'd give it a try and see what difference, if any, there was.

It is a bit different, more room to work with, the mixing area is nice and wide, and even the way to hold it feels a bit more natural, but not much difference was noted.

One thing i do need to do to it, i though i did, but more needs to be done, i have to sand and seal the surface of the oval palette. I had used several coats of polyurethane, as well as several washes of Linseed oil, and though it feels smooth to the touch and the paint doesn't slide off of it, i still feel my brush getting stuck in the wood fibers from time to time, especially at the beginning stages of the painting process. After a while with all the paint on the palette surface, this "brush getting stuck" this goes away, but it is a slight pain in the beginning.

I was reading somewhere online that over time, with the oils in the oil paints, this "sealing" of the palette will take care of itself, so i suppose that is a problem that is expected of most wooden palettes at first.

all in all, I am loving working with the wooden palette. It is a very personal and different experience, and not only that, i learned that when feeling a bit stuck or in a rut, the best thing to do is to break out the box and try something different, just to change things up, and above all, do it just for fun, play with it, this is the only way to find the secrets that are waiting to be discovered.

On the 4th St Bridge, Near Lorena

"On the 4th St Bridge, Near Lorena"
oil on panel, 8 x 10

as with the previous post, I am playing around with atmospheric techniques and brushwork in this one.

I love the strong cool shadows in the foreground, with the bright white lamposts in the middle area, and the receding dirty Los Angeles sky in the far background.

this is drive back home from the westside is a favorite mine, I always take the streets, always, freeways are for going to places that are very far, they give me nothing but headaches, and they make me sleepy! But the streets through town is a very pleasant experience, the views are fantastic, it is all full of color, and having grown up and for the most part have lived in the surround areas, this place if more than familiar, it is home.

for the subject above, i was more than likely coming from Downtown LA, since this is my usual route back when doing so. This is right in the heart of East Los Angeles, especially the areas with the old bridges connecting the east side with downtown, there is a look to this part of the city that is sadly eroding away and being replaced with ugly modernism. Sad to see them go, but as they say "c'est la vie"

the image above symbolizes one thing, I have gone from the monotonous driving to "ah, here i am, in familiar territory! Not far from home"

For this painting, i used a soft synthetic Bright brush, had worked with that type of brush before, but never really gave it much importance, it was just another brush in the can, next to my Filbert sables that i almost exclusively used.

I really enjoyed the process, and the way this painting came out. Such ease and fluidity of the brush and paint felt awesome!

Speeding in the Carpool Lane

"Speeding in the Carpool Lane"
oil on panel, 5 x 11
a quick study, trying out some atmospheric techniques, as well as playing with the brush work.

Gift from Above

"Gift from Above"
oil on panel, 12 x 16

"Gift from Above"
oil on panel, 12 x 16

The idea to paint a fallen branch had been floating around in my head for a couple of days before the opportunity and push to do it fell from above.

I had been looking for new still life ideas since i was getting a bit repetitive with my usual still life subjects, and though it cool to paint a dead branch, i pictured it in my head lifeless and dark, or full of fruit and green.

the idea remained that way, an idea. I kept wondering how and where i could come across this proposed tree branch, because i didn't want to stage anything either, it had to be all natural, it must be a true fallen branch, not anything huge either, but no twigs.

a few days went buy, and one morning, on the way to my little studio in the backyard, there it was. One of our trees, a "Mispero" I believe the name of the type of tree is, had dropped a small branch in my path. This was it, this was what I had been looking for, and it turned out i didn't need to look far.

the small branch was full of fruit, and had nice and clean big leaves, it was perfect.

thank you Mispero.

Speed Stick

"Speed Stick"
oil on panel, 8 x 10

this is part of the result of what turned out to be a series instead of a grouped still life painting that was to be titled "The Tools of the Morning Routine".

I made the grouped stil ife painting already, with all the essential necessities for making oneself presentable for the day ahead, but was not satisfied with the result. Something about it bothered me, still does, i kept thinking to myself that this would work better as a series instead of having it grouped (although having the items grouped still feels right at the same time, damn brain, make up your mind!!)

So for now, I will continue with the series, here is the first "Speed Stick", smells good all day, one of my favorite brands (i can see corporate sponsorship in my future!)

I will create a label for it for titled "Tools of the Morning Routing Series" for easier navigation when wantong to find the paintings in the series grouped in one area.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

an answer to a recent question via email:

Question: "May I ask do you transfer your images from cell phone to canvas? Pencil sketch? Grid? Projection?"

Answer: No projections, EVER.

With my earlier paintings, i used the grid method and pencil to get the main shapes in the right spot, and making sure it all fit in the composition, then i would begin color blocking from there.

Now, i begin a painting without using the grid or pencil drawing, i use a loose initial sketch-in using Burnt Sienna. I make sure it all fits in the composition before moving on to color. Sometimes i can get very detailed before the color stage, with lots of measuring using my brush, and sometimes it's a simple outline to make sure of where the focal area and main interest will be.

I have included a before and after to give you an idea of how detailed the initial sketch can be, as well as the finished result:

Before: Initial Burnt Sienna Sketch-In

After: Finished painting
"In The Alley Behind April Flowers"
oil on board
12 x 24

The drawing stage is never final, though i do enjoy drawing and can get very detailed with it, many times it is pointless to get so detailed since it will be covered with color, the drawing only serves as a guide to where everything in the composition will be located, so as to not just dive into the painting blindly and find out something doesn't fit later.

I switched from using the grid because of the looseness and freedom this sketch-in process using Burnt Sienna provides, gives one the feeling of discovery as opposed to sticking to the confines and accuracy of the grid.

Though i do work from photographs for some of my paintings, and i know i'm not the only one, no matter what other artists say, it is not a matter of simply copying the picture, be it from a cell phone or whatever, the photo is used for reference purposes. A field study, or ink/pencil sketch can be used in the same way, for me and the subjects i am interested in, a picture is more than necessary since such moments last a fraction of a second, and though not impossible to capture without a camera, i find it very helpful in my process. Perhaps one day i'll be able to not use my reference photos, but for the time being, i'll keep using them.

I hope this answered your question.

Oscar Arroyo

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The View from Surgeo's Balcony (11-23-2011)
oil on panel, 12 x 18

I painted this from my friend Surgeo's balcony. His place has an amazing view! This painting captures about 1% of how it actually looks from his place, a view that requires 9 flights of stairs and a lot of heavy breathing after (need to get in shape! ha!)

This is one of a very few plein air attempts i have successfully accomplished. I loved every bit of it! Working at night feels great, there is no worry about the light changing so quickly, and one has a bit of freedom in color choice.

my set up, and the amazing view of Los Angeles from Monterey Park

I had been playing with the idea to paint at night for a long time, mainly trying to figure out how to light up my easel at night, and have it be enough light to both illuminate my palette and painting surface, as well as not interfere with the surroundings.

One day while at a book store, which shall remain nameless (lets just say it starts with the letter "B" and ends with "arnes & Noble") I came across the book light section. They have a variety of clamp-on book lights, some pricey, some cheap. This was exactly what I was looking for, they offer cool, white light, and are small and portable, and the best part, they can clamp on to any surface and not get in the way.

A bit of advice on color and value for painting night scenes on location, amp up your saturation when making a color choice, and make the value lighter than you think it should be. I have done other paintings out at night since this one, and one thing i found was that when i brought them back in, they were much darker from what they had looked like on location, both in color and value.

It takes a bit of practice to finally get it right, but i can guarantee a fun experience nonetheless.