Dr. Lam’s Art

If you would like to see Dr. Lam’s daily artwork, follow him on Instagram @samlammd

Facial Plastic Surgery requires a good artistic eye and a gentle hand. Dr. Lam is an accomplished artist outside of his clinical practice and has painted and drawn portraits, landscapes, and abstract art work. He has created his art in many different media including acrylic, oil, graphite, charcoal, watercolor, ink and wash, color pencil, color marker, lithograph, pastel, and mixed media. He also is a graphic artist and has designed all of his own logos, business cards, illustrations for his textbooks, designs for his book covers, websites, etc. and is proficient with Adobe Illustrator. He has a deep passion for art and is driven by offering patient’s his artistic eye and touch in every case. When he is not painting, he is visiting art museums and learning from great artists of the past. His favorite artists include Sol Lewitt, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Edgar Degas, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, David Hockney, Morris Louis, Wolf Khan, Constantin Brancusi, among many others.

Eden

“Eden”, 32 x 14 in., Oil on oil-primed Raymar Belgian linen board (Claessens C15SP). This very long-format painting took me almost two months to complete. The title comes from, of course, the Biblical narrative of our finding an untrammeled earth free of our current problems that will come again with the new heaven and earth. It is an idyllic meditation and an escape from our busy urban life. The development of the painting came from multiple source photos and a free-floating imagination. I developed the idea as I progressed with no pre planning whatsoever. Initially, I wanted to capture an English garden with its free-form, unstructured appearance to allow your eye to meander along the paths and foliage as you like. I then paid homage to Monet’s famed Giverny garden that I had the pleasure to visit a few years back with the waterlilies and Japanese bridge. William Morris’ Red House on the far left harkens back to the call that he had to leave the city for a newfound Eden in the countryside. I always wanted a gazebo, which I added to the far left, and also a fountain. These human elements punctuate an otherwise all-nature landscape, also symbolizing our relationship with God. I also love flowers, as you know, so this gave me the opportunity to showcase many small flowers strewn across the landscape. This painting will be framed in a thin black metal frame and will be hung at the entrance to my own garden. Thanks to Ellie for giving me that idea. Hope you enjoy it!

Floris III

“Floris III”, oil on two panels, each 11 x 12 in. My mom asked me to paint single flowers for her in two accompanying frames, which I obliged. These are two of my favorite flowers: a violet Hellebore and a blue Peony. I like their complexity and shape: one head on and one at an angle. I love the blues and purples together, which are visually very soothing. Surprisingly, this small painting took me almost 2 weeks to complete, whereas my last one with 26 flowers took me only 3 weeks (but I was under a time pressure to complete it). I added the leaves to create some more visual intrigue. Unilike the last two paintings, which I painted flowers in oil on black gesso, I painted this one on black oil paint, which was interesting because it absorbed the chroma of the oil paint a lot and required more layers of paint to restore the vibrancy. The panels are cradled in a floating, deep, black metal frame.

Floris II

“Floris II”, Oil on Black Gesso Canvas, 60 x 60 in. (5 x 5 ft). This painting is a second painting in my flower series in the same spiral configuration as Floris I, but the flowers are much bigger, brighter, and singular. This painting will be donated to the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) Art for Advocacy Gala this Fall, of which Elsinore and I are honorary chairs. It will be auctioned for $9,950 but can be purchased at the beginning of the gala for $24,875 (if you are the first to bid). Your donation will be given 100% tax deduction and will go to stop the absolutely horrible crime of child abuse. I worked super hard to finish this painting before May 31 in order to meet the submission deadline to be considered to be shown in NorthPark Mall in August before the gala. I will let you know on June 7 if this piece is selected by the curatorial committee for viewing there. This should have taken me 5 weeks to complete but I did it in under 3 weeks because Ellie allowed me to work around the clock to finish it in time.

Floris I

“Floris I”. Oil on Black Gesso Canvas. 60 x 60 in. (5 x 5 ft.). This painting took me exactly a month to complete. As you know, I absolutely love flowers and have painted them in all levels of abstraction to realism. This is my most realistic portrayal of flowers but at the same time the arrangement is entirely unrealistic and fanciful. Painting realistic flowers on a table, for example, is more classical but a bit boring to me. Painting them realistically but in an unusual arrangement adds visual intrigue and renders the design modern. I will be making a similar one “Floris II” for a charity.

Birds of Paradise 2

“Birds of Paradise 2”, Oil on Black Gesso Canvas, 144 x 48 in. (12 x 4 feet), diptych. This massive painting took me 5 weeks to complete and features 47 birds of various sizes, colors, and origins. The panel on the left has 17 birds and the one on the right has 30 birds. There are two central trees on the left and one on the right panel. The painting is framed with a large yellow tree in the far left foreground and a waterfall in the far right background. The birds were painted more realistically than the trees and the leaves, which are more stylized, flatter, and abstract. The birds started out more abstract but I migrated all of them to become more realistic as the painting progressed. This sort of reminds me of a Chinese privacy screen. I don’t know if you know what I’m talking about. This painting will be hung in the lobby of my building between the spa and the salon in the next 2 months, so if you are in Plano, please stop by to view it!

Mes Anges

“Mes Anges”, Watercolor on Aquaboard, 12 x 12 in., Diptych. I changed the title of this diptych. Returning to watercolor after a two-year hiatus was quite challenging but working on Aquabord made it uniquely rewarding. These two watercolors will be framed with individual 2 in. deep, floating, black metal frames and will most likely be hung in my art studio. With Aquabord I won’t need to put glass over it, just a simple varnish, which will reduce glare and highlight the intensity of the colors. I can’t really photograph the colors, which in real life are much brighter, smoother, and far richer.

I Bambini

“I Bambini”, Watercolor on Aquabord, 12 x 12 in., part of a planned diptych. I haven’t done watercolor in two years, and at that time I had no idea what I was doing. I was mainly working monochromatically because I was scared to explore color but now I can’t live without color. Using my 108 Holbein watercolors I bought two years ago but almost never used, I made this watercolor after watching a few hours of Ali Cavanaugh’s work on Patreon. The photographed colors look muddy and terrible, but in real life the colors are deeply saturated with beautiful hues and intensity. The subtle gradations are lost in the photography unfortunately. I painted on Aquabord for the first time and it was revelatory. Despite the first two hours of wanting to pull my hair out, I finally started to get the hang of it. The amazing thing about Aquabord is that you can actually erase your work, it can accept up to many many layers unlike paper, does not tear, retains much higher pigment load since the colors do not get muted by the absorbed paper, and finally does not require glass (just a varnish), so I can display my watercolor completely naked to the eye. I worked hard to stay in the same color family for the skin and hair tones, the clothing, and the background using mainly purples, yellow/orange, and a little pink. Even though this painting was not a limited palette, it is much more cohesive in color than my last painting I believe.

Le Bosquet

“Le Bosquet”, oil on canvas, 72 x 48 in. The title comes from the name that the artist Pierre Bonnard gave his villa where he retired just outside of Cannes, France. Bonnard was the inspiration for this work, as I love his use of colors and composition. I visited the Kimbell to study his masterpiece, Landscape at Le Cannet, which is a hill near his villa. I worked and reworked this piece. The hardest part was unifying the disparate colors. I see why some artists insist on using a limited palette. As I finished part of the right side, I knew that I had to draw the colors over to the left and down to the bottom to make this painting harmonious. The large tree on the left was my first move of getting the green to frame both sides. Drawing the dark blue landscape into the middle was the second major move. Third was tying the orange across and down. As you see in the original reference photo, it was all green. Also, as an homage to Bonnard, there are some small quirky animals that you barely notice unless you look more carefully. The painting is much better seen in person than in a small photo. Look at the closeups and the video to get a better impression of how it really looks in person. The painting will be framed in a black floating metal frame and will hang over the bed in the second master. There will be a flood of sunlight on it to illuminate the bright colors. At heart, I am so inspired by the color field artists, especially Wolf Kahn and Morris Louis.

Play Time

“Play Time”, Pastel on Sennelier La Carte, 12 x 16 in. This is the second of two panels for this diptych. Unfortunately, the pastels are starting to irritate me a bit with allergies, so I’m going to finish with them for awhile. The face was somehow difficult to capture, but I progressively inched forward to the final result that works now. I hope you enjoy it!

Play Time

“Play Time”, Pastel on Sennelier La Carte, 12 x 16 in. This is a continuation of the tetraptych “Bath Time”. I added the panda and dinosaur to the composition because the work was unbalanced. Alessandra loves the panda that she calls Ming. I love the low vantage point, but that caused the hand to look grotesquely too big, so I had to shrink it down in size. This piece will also be part of a larger series of 2, 3, or 4 panels. I haven’t yet decided but will as I progress.

Mysterious Ways

“Mysterious Ways”, pastel on Sennelier La Carte, 9.5 x 12.5 in. This piece was commissioned by a friend who gave me a reference photo to use for the work. It was an interesting piece for me to explore since I almost always work only on my family, but it was a fun diversion this week.

Bath Time – Panel 4

“Bath Time”, Pastel on La Carte pastel paper, 9.5 x 12.5”, tetraptych, consisting of four panels. This is the last panel of four, and I found it particularly challenging to use black paper. Enzo’s face was also a source of difficulty but I was able to gradually modify it until it looked perfect. The four panels will be framed horizontally one next to the other with a matte around and dividing each one. I haven’t worked in pastels in 1.5 years and really love coming back to this beautiful medium!

Bath Time – Panel 3

3rd of 4 Panels of “Bath Time”, Pastel on La Carte pastel paper, 9.5 x 12.5”. I decided 3 panels would not look balanced, so I will be making a fourth one. This was particularly difficult to execute given Alessandra’s expression, which was not easy to capture without making her look too forlorn or sleepy. I think I got it just about right.

Bath Time – Panel 2

2nd of 4 Panels of “Bath Time”, Pastel on La Carte pastel paper, 9.5 x 12.5”. This painting was a joy to make. I really think Master Cuong’s technique of verdaccio (green under painting) helped me create the most complex and realistic skin tones imaginable. I couldn’t capture that level of complexity on the smaller scale of the last panel or maybe it was due to the fact that it was my first try at it. I realized though I do not love the Stabilo brand for pastels (which he uses) because for me it lacks the tonal range for skin tones, so I resorted to my set of Faber-Castel pastels after the initial work with my Stabilos. The depth and complexity of the skin tones are simply not captured in a photograph. You have to see this painting in person to fully appreciate it. The cool undertone of green contrasts against the multiple layers of warm tones in a mind-blowing manner. The background color splash was made with my Schmincke soft pastels. I am in love with pastels again! I can’t wait for the next panel!

Bath Time – Panel 1

“Bath Time”, pastel on La Carte Pastel paper, 9.5 x 12.5 in. I haven’t done pastels for 1.5 years since I was stuck at home in March of 2020. It was an amazing return to this beautiful medium that has creamy colors with intense and muted chromas. I signed up for Cuong Nguyen’s Patreon page, watched a few of his videos, and read his new book, Glowing Portraits, that showcases and explains his verdaccio technique in which he paints faces in green undertones first before layering colors on top of it to reach a beautiful complexity. I used a lot of pinks, violets, and oranges to draw a more impressionistic appearance to the skin than Master Cuong uses. It was particularly difficult to render the tiny faces of my children, as it took me many tries to get it to look like them given the size was the dimensions of my thumb. This will actually be part of a triptych or tetraptych eventually on the same theme most likely. Stay tuned!

Growing Up

“Growing Up”, oil on round board, 24.5 in. diameter. This tondo portrait of my son Enzo was imagined since he cannot freely stand yet without support. I used 6 reference photos to paint this image: one for the face, two for the hair, one for the shirt, and one for each hand, with the pants being imagined. The landscape behind him has been modified from Bruegel the Elder’s painting “Landscape with Flight into Egypt” from 1563. I was inspired by his work when I was able to peruse the Bruegel room in Madrid’s Prado earlier this year. I was fascinated with the other-worldly landscape he created and thought the balance between land on the left and water on the right was visually intriguing. Of course, I’ve taken a lot of liberties with his painting. I also love the theme of God’s protection of Jesus by taking the Holy Family to Egypt to avoid the Bethlehem massacre, particularly apropos this time of year. I am asking God similarly for divine protection of this little one. I had fun tying in the left and right sides to make the painting visually cohesive limiting my palette of colors and balancing value. Further, wrapping the subject with darker values made the portrait pop out more three-dimensionally. I also like how the subject is at a much higher vantage point to his surrounding, almost floating in the sky. Hence, the title of the painting comes from the vantage point of his being high up above the mountains and also the fact that I have imagined him slightly older since he is fully standing. Of course, he is not yet one years old, so it is also a bit humorous too. Finally, I love the ambiguity of whether he is standing in front of a landscape or in front of a painting. I deliberately made the shadows a bit vague so that you cannnot quite tell which is the situation. I was greatly inspired by Mary Jane Ansell’s paintings of women in front of a painting as the nidus of an idea that sparked this piece. I have also loved John Darley’s portraits. His use of color and value are simply unmatched. The large square frame that I had custom made for this painting looks amazing

Gather the Wild Flowers

“Gather the Wild Flowers”, acrylic on canvas, 180 x 42 in. (15 x 3.5 ft.). This is the largest painting that I have done, which I completed in just over a week. It will be framed next week with a single, brushed-aluminum, floating frame and will be the centerpiece for my home in my great room. The title comes from a poem, and the work is inspired by artists Claire Woods, Zachari Logan, among many others. Most of the flowers do not exist in nature but are sourced either purely from my imagination or may have elements from real flowers starting from a reference photo. Each canvas conveys a different mood and employs a different technique. My biggest struggle was keeping the end result somewhere between figurative and abstract. Some flowers veer more toward one side or the other but all remain somewhere in the middle ground. I wanted each canvas to be different but to work in a unified fashion so that you could feel the differences but not be bothered by them. Flowers have always inspired me and given me such joy. Even though they are only temporary and fleeting in reality, this imagined canvas will not wilt or fade.

Elsinore

“Elsinore”, oil on linen panel, 36 x 48 inches. This is the largest portrait that I have made to date and was inspired by my recent trip to the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, where I saw an exhibit of large-scale portraits by Eugen Varzic, a Croatian artist. There is something about scale that takes your breath away like a Chuck Close, who died last week. This painting took me exactly two weeks to complete and one week was almost entirely dedicated to painting the hair. The level of detail and the sheer size of this painting made painting the hair simultaneously a tedious, enjoyable, and the most challenging part of this painting. I used all my favorite blues in the background and made the dress out of my absolute favorite blue, Prussian blue, which contrasts well with my signature in light Sevre blue. I typically like blues in my background for portraits because it complements and contrasts well with the warmer skin tones. My two favorite skin tones that really brought life to the painting without making it look overly abstract were Holbein’s brilliant pink and Williamsburg’s Montserrat orange (a creamsicle-like color). Ellie loved how I captured her green-gray eyes. The last two days were spent deepening contrast, glazing, adjusting tones, and making minor corrections, plus adding an earring. This will be framed with a black metallic floating frame. Wish you could see the original because my photos simply cannot justly capture the portrait in its color and scale.

  • 1/5 Oil

    “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa 2021”, oil on linen panel, 36 x 48 inches. This painting was inspired by Hokusai’s famous woodblock of 1831 of the same name. I was watching the beautiful cobalt teal waves in the Bahamas a couple weeks ago and wanted to paint them. I was bored with the idea of a realistic wave but wanted the challenge to see if I could do it. I thought a realistic interpretation of Hokusai’s painting would be interesting to me. This painting contains the three major motifs of Japan: the sea, Mount Fuji, and the sun. I watched a six-hour tutorial by Andrew Tischler on how to paint waves during my vacation, but I learned more how to paint in general than how to paint waves per se. If you look at the arcs of motion, you will see the great wave points down to Fuji, Fuji’s smokey clouds arc over like the great wave and encircle the sun to touch the arc of the wave on the right, which forms a complete circle with the great wave. Also you will see an upside mountain shape in the water to mimic Fuji’s shape. The hardest thing that I had to do in this painting was integrating the background into the foreground. It took me 5 layers of mist and clouds as well as painting the sun to join the foreground and background and to create complexity and tension to stand up to the foreground. Also note the play between in focus and out of focus, which further gives depth and motion to the painting.

    The Great Wave Off Kanagawa 2021

    Floes-Aglow-Oil-Painting-by-Dr-Sam-Lam

  • 2/5 Oil

    This oil on panel painting measures 16 x 16″ and is entitled “Petit Déjeuner en Bordeaux.” It features a scene from one of Ellie and my favorite hotels and breakfasts at La Grande Maison Bordeaux de Bernard Magrez, which was unfortunately felled by Covid last year. The petit hotel is in an old mansion with impeccable service, absolutely gorgeous artwork (and I’m very picky with art), and a delicious breakfast with fresh pastries, etc. This painting was difficult to execute because the elements were so tiny. This is the smallest face I have painted and it was a challenge. Thank God for tiny sable brushes! You can see in the reference photo I took considerable liberty in making adjustments for artistic purposes. I’m also glad that I was able to paint a portrait, birds, and flowers. There will be a companion piece that you will see shortly.

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    Petit Déjeuner en Bordeaux

    Petit-Dejeuner-en-Bordeaux-Oil-Painting-by-Dr.-Sam-Lam

  • 3/5 Oil

    “Playful & Pensive” and consists of two 16″ x 16″ wood panels. The painting features me and my wife Elsinore Lam on separate panels with two different moods, me being playful and her being pensive. Also, we have two different poses, me head on and her tilted at an angle. Further, my lighting is evenly lit and hers is more chiaroscuro. Getting sable brushes made a huge difference with doing Ellie’s portrait, and using fast-dry oils was an absolute joy!

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    Playful & Pensive

    Playful-and-Pensive-by-Dr-Sam-Lam

  • 4/5 Oil

    This oil on panel (16 x 16″) is entitled “Twilight at Le-Mont-Saint-Michel” and now forms a diptych with my “Petit Déjeuner en Bordeaux”. The two paintings together contrast each other featuring a bright interior morning in the South of France and a glow of twilight exterior in the North of France. Further, we are in the foreground in the evening painting, and Ellie is in the background for the morning painting. The foreground on the morning image is highly complex and the background is similarly so in the evening image, as a further point of contrast. Also notice when I put them side by side that there is a V shape to the principal elements (unintended) with elements descending from top left to bottom right in the morning image and bottom left to top right in the evening image. I decided to enhance that V shape by painting in tiny purple birds in flight on the top right (flying in V formation) to draw the viewer up from the foreground road to the top of the Abbey’s spire. The top left of the painting and the bottom right of the painting balance each other with negative space with the top left showing sweeping sky strokes and the bottom right showing short choppy water strokes. I took some liberty of combining and enhancing…elements. The original image had the background Abbey overlapping partially our heads and it did not suit the frame of the painting well. I also changed all the colors and made it evening time. Further, I made it high tide since it was dry land when the photo was taken. I moved some buildings around along the base to make it more visually interesting and balanced. Also, of course, I added my entire family including Kumo (who is now passed), Alessandra holding an apple, and our nanny Ruth pushing Enzo in a stroller. It is interesting how a cluttered background looks bad in a photo but adds depth, complexity, and a little bit of fun to a painting. This pair will go over my morning bar in my new home.

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    Twilight at Le-Mont-Saint-Michel

    Petit-Dejeuner-en-Bordeaux-Oil-Painting-by-Dr.-Sam-Lam

  • 5/5 Oil

    “Floes Aglow”, Oil on linen panel, 48 x 36 inches. I was inspired on a trip to the Museum of Modern Art Fort Worth where I saw a painting by Leidy Churchman of the earth from space and it reminded me of ice floes. I started to research how ice floes looked on Pinterest and loved the complexity of the multiple layers of ice floes as revealed by gradual tonal changes. As I started to paint this painting, it unintentionally reminded me of Georgia O’Keefe’s massive cloud paintings, one of which I saw at the Art Institute of Chicago many years ago. The linen surface was single acrylic primed (unlike my last portrait that was quadruple oil primed and sized) in order to bring out some of the underlying texture of the surface. I was planning to use multiple blues but when I started using the Prussian blue by Williamsburg paints I was blown away at the gorgeousness of the color and the deep complexity of its many hues. (Very different from the Paris blue, which is technically the same blue, that I used for my recent tree painting.) I was able to create so many tonal shifts by thinning it with linseed oil and mixing it with various degrees of titanium white. The blue dried relatively quickly within… 24 hours without even using an alkyd medium, so it afforded me the ability to paint it wet (so oil was the perfect medium for this painting) and various degrees of drying in order to easily render the progressive layers of ice by painting the deeper layers with minimal white paint on wet blue paint and the top layers with a lot of white on a dry blue background. It’s the first time I have exclusively used two colors to cover 80% of a panel or canvas. Truly extraordinary colors. I also love the complementary cadmium orange in the sky that is shockingly intense. In this painting I have veered back to the semi-abstract but don’t think I will ever return to full abstraction, at least not for awhile. Representational and figurative work is so compelling to me right now.

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    Floes Aglow

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  • Walk in the Woods
    with Wolf
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    1/17 Acrylics

    This acrylic painting on 24 x 36” board is entitled “Walk in the Woods with Wolf”. The title comes from one of my favorite artists Wolf Kahn, whose bright landscape style is actually much more reductionistic than what I’ve done here, as I have leaned toward complexity. If you blow up the painting, you will see that I used a different impressionistic style for each part of the background, including pointillism, radial brush strokes, horizontal brush strokes, and circular strokes. The color also changes throughout. I contrast the horizontal background with the vertical foreground and I used a warmer background tone to the cooler foreground to create a visual tension between those two elements. This painting was on the verge of ruin multiple times and was brought back from disaster as I explored various techniques during the process of creating it.

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  • Ma Cherie Blossom
    2/17 Acrylic

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! This acrylic on 24” round board is entitled “Ma Cherie Blossom”. The title comes from the French expression for “my dear”, as I speak to her in French every day and “cherry blossom”, which is the English name for the flowers that frame the image and in Japanese is Sakura, Alessandra’s middle name. Again, I’m exploring my two favorite themes: portrait and flowers. I really challenged myself with the hair and the bear. I painted the flowers in a semi-abstract style to contrast with the realism of the central area, and again I love metallic colors, so the painting is framed in gold. The green is about 60% permanent light green and 40% light phthalo turquoise. Love that combination. The dress took 6 different reds and oranges to compose to create the final depth. This will be my last circular portrait for awhile. Hope you enjoy!

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  • Stargazer
    3/17 Acrylic

    Merry Christmas everyone! Just finished this acrylic painting on 30” round board entitled “Stargazer”. The title comes from the name of the flower Elsinore Ellie Lam is holding (also featured in the background) and also the fact that Ellie majored in astrophysics not to mention the positive connotations of a bright future. The original idea was inspired by Kris Knight’s portraits. As you know, I love flowers, which is a prominent theme in this painting from the flowers on the dress, to the flower Ellie is holding, to the background wallpaper pattern. The background is also reflective of the textiles that I love in Raoul Dufy’s work from an exhibit I saw in Japan last year and that inspired a series of paintings I did in 2019. The gold halo is a reference to Renaissance Christian iconography, a theme that I explored in a prior color-pencil drawing entitled Halo. It took me a while to settle on an appropriate …background. The background looked too plain without any flowers but I was too worried of it being too busy with flowers, so I settled on a stripe of flowers that almost conveys a sense of motion and keeps the tension between busy and simple intact. I also used a tone-on-tone color scheme to make the background not stand too far forward of the foreground: bronze on gold and medium violet on blended light violet/white/light phthalo blue. Hope you enjoy!

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  • Kaleidoscopic
    Cornucopia
    Kaleidoscopic-Cornucopia-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    4/17 Acrylic

    This painting appropriately finished today on Thanksgiving is entitled “Kaleidoscopic Cornucopia”. It is an acrylic on 36”-diameter round board. Initially, I waited two months for these little round wood pieces from Europe to be glued on the board, but they never arrived. Thank God because I love this project far more. As you know, I have drifted away from abstraction to more representational work. I’m exploring my favorite themes: flowers, birds, and nature. The flowers and birds are not 100% reflective of reality. I took some liberty with the color and style to make them more artistically interesting. I call this style impressionistic realism. The flowers on the top half are en face and on the bottom half reach up to the sun. The birds occupy the upper half of the frame, and the lower half progresses from small flying things to creepy crawlers. I also incorporated abstracted elements like the background and the leaves, the latter of which are reminiscent of Matisse’s paper cutouts, a theme that I have explored before. This will go in my office. Hope you like it, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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  • Roses Aren’t Red
    Roses-Arent-Red-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    5/17 Acrylic

    Finished my 9 x 9 foot acrylic mural entitled “Roses Aren’t Red”. Thanks to Richard Crawford for building the massive scaffolding spanning two floors, and thank you Juan Garza for getting me supplies, a fan, ice water, and helping me cleaning up. This painting is inspired by Cy Twombly’s Roses series. Ellie wanted something totally abstract but my love now for figurative work prevented me from a fully abstracted piece. As you know, I love flowers, and on the bottom of the stairwell will be my other painting on flowers, the stained painting I did last year. Coming up the stairs you won’t see this painting, so the stairwell looks clean but when you round the corner it’s there. Also it will be the only painting you can see from the second floor.

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  • Grand Canyon
    Grand-Canyon-by-Dr-Sam-Lam-scaled
    6/17 Acrylic

    Finished this 3.5 x 15 foot acrylic triptych painting entitled “Grand Canyon” that will extend across one wall of my bedroom. It was inspired by David Hockney’s Grand Canyon, and this like his is an invented landscape. I tried to make each panel appear unique and different but thematically and by color be unified as a whole piece. I used a limited color palette of like 10 colors for the entire painting to keep it unified but clearly the style and the colors are highly abstracted and meant for visual interest rather than for representational value.

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  • Big Rock
    Candy Mountain
    Big-Rock-Candy-Mountain-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    7/17 Acrylic

    This work entitled “Big Rock Candy Mountain” is on two canvases of 5 x 5 feet making it 5 x 10 feet in total. This painting has morphed so many times and has finally landed as a bright and massive painting for Alessandra’s future nursery. The title is from the folksy joke song that Ellie loves to sing and reminds her of where she was born in northern Georgia/Tennessee. Of course, also these bright and stylized mountains look like big candies and hopefully will make her room tasty and joyous! I used almost half of my 16 oz. jar of titanium white to make the colors more pastel and muted, especially in the background where it is more distant and misty. Hope you enjoy this playful painting! It will be my last one during this Covid time before returning to work.

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  • The Long Journey
    The-Long-Journey-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    8/17 Acrylic

    This work is entitled “The Long Journey” and is an acrylic painting on a 4 x 3 foot canvas. Ellie is shown after a long day of travel returning back to the hotel with a view of Mount Fuji. This is an imagined scene since I don’t recall ever staying in a hotel facing Mt. Fuji. It continues my themes of travel, Japan, and a split frame divided 50/50 like the last one of Ellie in a pool in Santorini facing the ocean. I love the colors of Mt. Fuji. I could look at that part of the painting for hours! The partially truncated head has multiple intentions. First, it shocks the viewer and frames the painting in a very unique way. Second, I was really inspired by an interview with the artist Cecily Brown who said that the face defines the narrative of the painting and overly dominates the painting (which is absolutely true), so by partially obscuring it the painting removes that element. Third, it’s a figurative statement that the mind is wiped out after a long day of travel. The open guide book set on the lap further symbolizes mental fatigue. The items in the room symbolize femininity like the purse, peaches, and shoes not to mention the swooning appearance. This is contrasted against …the masculine presence of the mountain, which also has a feminine loveliness to it as well. There is a lightness to the upper half of the frame and heaviness to the lower half that provides another interesting contrast. The peaches also symbolize Japanese-ness, longevity, and truth. This painting will go in the hallway upstairs. My next painting will be massive and insane! Stay tuned.

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  • Solitude in Santorini
    Solitude-in-Santorini-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    9/17 Acrylic

    This painting is entitled “Solitude in Santorini” and is an acrylic painting on 4 x 4 foot canvas. The idea came from Ellie wanting more abstract pieces for the home and my inability to escape figurative paintings. I thought that making 90% of the canvas filled with simple blues would appeal to her and fortunately she agreed to it. This painting is a sequel to my pastel “Sunrise in Santorini” and both feature Ellie in the pool at our hotel Astra Suites located in Imerovigli in Santorini looking right over the center of the crater facing the volcanic cliffs, the three peaks which you can see in the misty background. I used ultramarine blue, light ultramarine blue, and white for the sky, deep cerulean blue and white for the sea and the volcanoes, light phthalo green, light phthalo blue, white, and brilliant blue for the pool. The wall is a mixture of primary cyan, anthroquinine blue, and white. The shadow in the pool is composed of light phthalo blue and green, brilliant blue, white, and dioxazine purple. I transitioned from dark to light then light to dark from top to bottom and from blue to green and green to blue in the colors.

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  • Birds of Paradise
    Birds-of-Paradise-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    10/17 Acrylic

    This painting is entitled “Birds of Paradise” and is an acrylic painting on 6 x 6 foot canvas. This is the largest canvas that I’ve done these past few months, and it is so large that I couldn’t bring it upstairs to my art room and mount it on my easel, so I had to paint parts of it lying on my side on the floor. The painting combines an impressionist-style landscape with a realistic foreground consisting of birds, window, table, and vase. The title of the painting refers to the name of the flowers and the birds, of course. The vase also has a bird and flowers on it. The surreal painting will be the centerpiece of my dining room.

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  • The Dance
    The-Dance-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    11/17 Acrylic

    This painting is entitled “The Dance”. It is an acrylic on an 8 x 3 foot canvas. It is the tallest painting that I’ve ever done and it has taken me the longest time, a little over a week, that I have worked on a single painting. It is so tall that I had to use a ladder to paint the upper half of the painting. The title and concept are based on Matisse’s “The Dance”, which is featured on the right side. The vase of flowers and the angle of the painting are taken from one version that Matisse did with a vase of flowers with his painting of the Dance as an element within his painting, so my painting is a painting of painting within a painting. This painting will be at the end of a long hallway leading to my bedroom. I chose the jumping dancer as the focal point to fill this vertical frame. If you see, the perspective of the painting is also from an elevated vantage looking down as if you the viewer are also dancing in mid-air. I painted my wife’s face onto the pose of a dancer (attached). I wanted the stillness and solemnity of my dog Kumo to anchor the bottom half of the painting.

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  • Shine On
    Shine-On-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    12/17 Acrylic

    This painting is entitled “Shine On” and it is an acrylic on 5 x 5 feet canvas, my largest portrait I’ve ever done. The title has three meanings: the expression means to carry on and it refers to our ability during the Covid crisis to Shine On; it refers to one of Ellie’s (and my) favorite artists, Pink Floyd; and it refers to the sheer brilliance of colors including the use of bronze, copper, silver, and gold, along with violet and orange interference paints (the latter of which you can’t even see in this photo). This painting will be over my fireplace and you first approach it from 90 degrees down a long hallway. There is direct sunlight on it, and all you will see at first are these brilliant sparkles from an angle!

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  • Double Portrait
    Double-Portrait-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    13/17 Acrylic

    This painting is entitled “Double Portrait” and features my mom and dad. It is an acrylic painting on 6 x 4 feet canvas. It is my most ambitious painting to date and represents my first attempt at an acrylic portrait, very difficult considering the incredibly fast dry time but I liked the challenge. The painting is inspired by David Hockney’s 1971 painting of Sir David Webster which was of a similar size, color palette, and medium (see attached). In fact, I copied his table as an homage to the artist and his work. As you can see on the table there are three books. All books may or may not exist in reality but they do in my imagination. The first book is on Hockney’s double portraits, of which he is famous and which is why I entitled this painting double portrait. The cover features his famous Portrait of an Artist that sold for $90 million making him the most expensive living artist until he was eclipsed by Jeff Koons at $91 million. The painting on the cover of the book features a swimming pool and with my Santorini painting that …had a swimming pool in it I was inspired to explore Hockney more in depth, which inspired this painting. The second book on the table entitled Museums of Naoshima references museums that I really want to see on a small island in southern Japan near my mother-in-law Masako’s home island of Shikoku and the book is an allusion to her. The bottom book on the Chèvre D’Or hotel in Eze is a stand in for my wife Ellie and also a reference to my previous painting on the same subject. The cross in the center of the painting represents the centrality of Christ in my life. The Sakura (cherry blossom) flowers represent my daughter (her middle name), and the same flower is in my dad’s handkerchief. The flowers are situated in a Ming vase, which represents my Chinese heritage. It also features two birds that my wife wanted me to paint, which represents us. The style of the painting is a mixture of realism and expressionism, the latter of which is especially expressed in the skin tones and facial features. Hope you enjoy!

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  • Spring Returns
    Spring-Returns-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    14/17 Acrylic

    This is the largest painting I’ve done 4’ x 16’ entitled “Spring Returns”, and it is an acrylic painting on clear acrylic panels. The title alludes to the Spring time we are currently in, our Spring that will return when this Covid crisis is over, and of course the flowers in the painting. It will be mounted floating in front of a limestone facade at the main entry of our wellness building when you walk in. As everyone knows, I love flowers and they cheer me up! Hope it cheers you up! I can’t show the painting as one piece because the painting is too long horizontally.

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  • Giverny
    Giverny-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    15/17 Acrylic

    Just finished this 5’x9’ oil & acrylic on canvas entitled “Giverny”, my first oil painting and largest canvas I’ve done. It is obviously inspired by my visit to Monet’s lovely garden a few months ago in August followed a week later by my visit to the Kimball to see Monet’s later years, a truly awe-inspiring exhibit. This is the farthest I’ve delved into representational art but I can’t escape some of my roots in abstraction, which is mainly exemplified here through the color scheme. The background, Japanese bridge, and water flowers were done in acrylic followed by the water lillies and trees in oil. I have included some details of the painting since it is near impossible to appreciate it on a mobile device.

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  • Les Fauves
    Les-Fauves-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    16/17 Acrylic

    This painting entitled “Les Fauves” (6’ x 4’ Acrylic on Unprimed Canvas) was inspired by an exhibit that I saw in Tokyo of Raoul Dufy’s work on his textile designs. As you probably know, Dufy was known for his participation in the Fauvism movement (one of my favorites), which was known for its bright colors and abstracted style. Also I’ve been inspired by one of my favorite artists Morris Louis who was renowned for his “stained” paintings in the 1950s. This follows that style. I used airbrush and solid acrylics thinned and extended with GAC airbrush extender that allows it to soak into the unprimed canvas. I used different gradations of the paint to simulate a watercolor or stained look. I took a lot of closeup photos in different angles so that you can appreciate the watercolor effect-like tonality that adds depth and intrigue to the painting. This technique is difficult because any mistake cannot be corrected: one drip, one drop, or one stroke out of place is unfixable. This will ultimately be protected with a clear acrylic box and all paintings will be featured in my new office expansion. I’ll be starting on my largest canvas ever and will be my first attempt at oil painting. Good bye acrylics for now!

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  • Four Earths
    Four-Earths-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
    17/17 Acrylic

    My “Four Earths” tetraptych will start as you walk down the hall on the right side of the wall with the bottom right (mountain) then progress to bottom left (shoreline) then you turn the corner and see top right (desert) and finally top left (jungle). This will join the old and the new wings of my wellness building.

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  • 1/5 Pastel

    This painting is entitled “Sunrise over Santorini” and is a soft pastel on 22 x 30” hotpress watercolor paper. This painting incorporates Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and contemporary styles (inadvertently Hockney) using extremely bright, saturated colors that do not necessarily reflect reality but captures the imagination. I used no fine pastel pencils, only rough and saturated soft pastels. This painting continues my fantasy travel series during this Covid crisis. Santorini is one of my favorite places in the world, and this painting was based on our time at Astra Suites in Thira, in the center of the Santorini crater. As you can see from the reference photos, I moved the painting from sunset to sunrise to express the brighter colors. I also combined two photos into one so that I could capture the central peak and the two flanking curves of the crater in one image. Further, I moved the sun over compositionally to the left for better aesthetic balance. When we were there, in the morning we would have breakfast made to order on our balcony looking over the morning fog that settled over the craggy peaks. What a memory. I hope you enjoy these travels together!

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    Sunrise over Santorini
    Sunrise-over-Santorini-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 2/7 Pastel

    This painting is entitled “Dreams of Eze”. It is a soft pastel on 24 x 16” hot-press watercolor paper and it is dedicated to my dad (see below). It represents a radical departure for me from my previous work that attempted to achieve more realistic renderings. It is inspired by the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Fauvist movements. You can see boldly imagined impasto strokes, rough smears, exposed paper, and unrealistic colors. Sorry the colors in these photos look nothing like the original. It is also a memento to my father who painted Impressionist landscapes and figures with pastels. I hope he likes this painting from heaven. (I know he does! Miss you dad.). As we stay locked shelter in place, I dream of the time Ellie and I traveled to her favorite French Riviera town, Eze, where I brashly claimed I had been and we didn’t need to go because I studied French when I was in college in Provence. Well, I actually totally missed that city and went to the neighboring village Eze-Sur-Mer, which is …nothing like it. Eze is an elevated medieval city filled with trellised gardens, cobblestoned streets, and magnificent views of the ocean. As you can see, I have reimagined parts of this painting with French Riviera flora as compared with the dry landscape of the original reference photo. I love color and love Matisse. Ellie’s dress is an homage to some of Matisse’s dress patterns. Also, the hotel where the movie Bucket List was filmed was where we stayed: Chèvre D’Or. Our bathroom was carved into the side of the mountain. I hope you enjoy your travel to southern France with me!

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    Dreams of Eze
    Dreams-of-Eze-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 3/7 Pastel

    This painting is entitled “Together Through This” (Pastel on 22 x 19” Toned Gray Paper). This pandemic tragedy has brought my wife and me closer together knowing that we rely on each other to get through these tough times, fully recognizing how blessed we are already and continue to be. We are also together with our Lord who is always with us, as represented in this painting. My faith is helping me cope with where we are. If you don’t have a faith, I would love to share with you what has given me hope and joy (PM me). Much love to all of you and wishing you peace and comfort through this time. I am also together with all of you: my friends, family, staff, colleagues, acquaintances, and patients.

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    Together Through This
    Together-Through-This-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 4/7 Pastel

    Wishing okaasan Masako Minami an early birthday since I will be without a secure connection soon during my travels. Ellie and I love you very much. Here is a preview of your surprise birthday gift. It is a pastel on paper and it is based on the photo of you and Alessandra last August after we visited the Monet exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum. Hope you have a wonderful and joyous day!

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    (Untitled)
    Masako-Minami-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 5/7 Pastel

    This pastel on sanded paper is entitled “Joy” and features my baby Alessandra. Unfortunately, the tonal transitions look horrible in these photos. I can’t quite capture the image with my iPhone.

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    Joy
    Joy-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 6/7 Pastel

    This finished tetraptych is entitled “Family Portrait” and is pastel on 12 x 16” sanded color paper.

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    Family Portrait
    Family-Portrait-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 7/7 Pastel

    Just finished my first pastel piece. Simply put I love pastel. It could be my favorite medium so far. So detailed yet so highly expressive. Plus I can use my finger as a blending tool, which is not allowed for color pencils or graphite. My father did amazing work with pastels. The choice of dark background was inspired by my visit to the Renoir exhibit last weekend where his chalky pastels on paper were truly gorgeous. Again, this photo looks nothing like the original because the smooth gradients are completely lost with my iPhone. I tried everything to capture it but to no avail. The transitions here look rough but they do not in person. Wish you could see the original. Totally different. This piece is done on sanded paper, which made the experience effortless and wonderful. I don’t think I will be using cotton paper ever again unless I’m doing a watercolor obviously. There is no title for this piece or signature yet because most likely it will be part of a triptych or tetraptych.

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    (Untitled)
    First-Pastel-Piece-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 1/10 Water Color

    This is my second attempt at graphite pencil and it turned out a lot better. I really wish you could see this in person because the subtle tone is completely lost in this horrible photo taken at night with bad lighting. It also looks distorted. Terrible! It is entitled “Wonder” and features my daughter. It is graphite and watercolor on 30 x 22” hot-press watercolor paper.

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    Wonder
    Wonder-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 2/10 Water Color

    This is my first attempt at graphite pencil, and it was fun and challenging! This piece is entitled “Radiant” and is graphite pencil and watercolor on 30 x 22” hot-press watercolor paper. It was taken just before our wedding on the beach in 2016.

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    Radiant
    Radiant-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 3/10 Water Color

    This painting entitled “Ma Petite Ange” is my first attempt at doing an ink and wash painting, which was done on 10 x 14” cold-press fine-grain watercolor paper. As you can see with the attached photos, I replaced Alessandra’s head with a still from a video since the original photo was taken about 6 months ago and I wanted to update her head. This is the first time I’ve been able to use my 108 set of Holbein watercolor paints from Japan, and they are magnificent!

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    Ma Petite Ange
    Ma-Petite-Ange-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 4/10 Water Color

    This 22 x 30” watercolor is entitled “Hug” and features my wife Ellie and my dog Kumo. The challenge was getting the dog fur looking good. Took me awhile to make that look pleasing to my eye. I like the vertical orientation and the use of negative space here. The colors really look much more striking in person. The orange background looks as bright as in the close-up image not the muddied appearance from the distant photo. I also included the pencil drawing and an earlier version before the application of gouache.

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    Hug
    Hug-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 5/10 Water Color

    This 30 x 22” watercolor is entitled “My Love” and was rescued from the brink of disaster. There is a gouge and a tear on the paper near my right ear, Ellie’s eyes were messed up, and the watercolor bled uncontrollably. I was depressed and was going to chuck the whole thing. I knew that if I could save Ellie’s eyes and make them look good this watercolor had a fighting chance. I used a white gel ink pen to reshape the eye and a dark blue color pen until I saw her identity return. I then fixed the skin tones, fixed the hair and the dress, and then used a darker shade of blue to cover the deepest part of the tear that corresponded to the top of my ear and did a darker shade of sky over the tear then lightened the tear with gouache. Not perfect but good enough. This was taken right before our wedding in Cabo on the beach. Great memory!

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    My Love
    My-Love-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 6/10 Water Color

    Belated Birthday gift to my mom! This 30” x 22” watercolor, gouache, and color pencil painting on cold-press watercolor paper is entitled “Family” and features my mom, dad, and baby Alessandra. The hardest part of this portrait was getting the heads the right size relative to each other, especially since these portraits came from three different photos. Even a couple millimeters in difference in eye size led to my dad’s head being 4 times too big then my next attempt the face was 1/3 the size of my mom’s. I fixed it by drawing the circle of the head and then drawing within it.

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    Family
    Family-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 7/10 Water Color

    Happy New Year from the New Year baby, Alessandra! I did this painting today on my day off. It is entitled “Happy” and it is a watercolor, gouache, and color pencil on 30”x 22” cold-press watercolor paper.

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    Happy
    Happy-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 8/10 Water Color

    This painting is entitled “Love” and features my wife Ellie and daughter Alessandra that I did this past weekend and finished this morning before work. It is my third attempt at watercolor and freehand illustration, and I’m getting better at it now. It is a watercolor, gouache, and color pencil on a 30” x 22” cold-press watercolor paper. The hardest thing to do was to do the baby’s face since in the original photo I didn’t like the facial expression so I had to find another one that conveyed the emotion but that photo was taken from a different vantage point, so I had to take the head shape from yet a third photograph and make a composite of all 3 photos. Again, the colors look a lot better in person! I have attached the original photos, but you will see that I took some subtle artistic license to make shadows and shape slightly to my taste.

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    Love
    Love-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 9/10 Water Color

    Merry Christmas! This painting I did this morning is entitled “Sakura-Chan” and named after my daughter Alessandra Sakura Lam. It is my second attempt at watercolor and my first at portraiture. It is a watercolor and color pencil on 30” x 22” hot-press watercolor paper. This looks sooo much better in person. I simply cannot capture the complexity and richness of the color palette and tried all different lighting conditions to do so. I hope that you will be able to see it in person. Haven’t decided where I’m going to hang it yet.

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    Sakura-Chan
    Sakura-Chan-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • 10/10 Water Color

    Finished my first watercolor triptych entitled “Wonders of the World” (32”x 36” each panel, 9 feet together including future framing) celebrating all of God’s wonderful flora and fauna. I first attempted an airbrush work but my cheap airbrush looked terrible, so I decided to experiment with watercolor and I love it! The rich tonality is unmatched by any medium I’ve ever used, and I started trying it because of my flower stain painting using extended airbrush paint on unprimed canvas that inspired me to explore watercolor. Since this was the first time I’ve done illustrations and watercolor, each panel got better from green to magenta to lavender/blue. This is my deepest dive into representational work but I can’t escape my passion for abstraction through the pattern and choice of color. My third panel has my dog, Kumo the magic dog, as the centerpoint for those who know Kumo!

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    Wonders of the World
    Wonders-of-the-World-by-Dr-Sam-Lam
  • Kind of Blue
    1/7 COLOR PENCIL

    “Kind of Blue”, color pencil on toned paper, 11.5-inch diameter tondo. I was able to complete this portrait in time for Mother’s Day. I have been wanting to explore grisaille portrait for quite a while and was inspired by an artist who did a similar portrait with color pencil. He used a Kohinoor color pencil, which is what I used and the color pencil is unique in its buttery application. I love this violet gray color, which I have used in the past for similar grisaille pieces in watercolor. I will be framing this portrait as a tondo with a customized 2-inch wood frame in a similar blue color. The title of the piece comes from my favorite Miles Davis album and as a double entendre with the color of the ink as well as the melancholic solemnity of the expression. I like to explore different human expressions in my paintings. Hope you enjoy, and Happy Mother’s Day!

  • Another Miracle
    2/7 COLOR PENCIL

    This colored pencil on 9 x 12″ toned gray paper is entitled “Another Miracle”. The title refers not only to Enzo, my new son but also to Ellie surviving two ER visits in one night that were totally unrelated: one for pulmonary edema and shortness of breath and the other for uterine bleeding that led to an overnight ER stay and culminated in a 4-hour surgery that ended with a uterine artery embolization that saved her life. I’m grateful for these two miracles. This painting is unsigned, as I may combine it with my “Hello World” colored pencil piece.

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  • Hello World
    3/7 COLOR PENCIL

    “Hello World,” colored pencil on 9 x 12″ toned gray paper featuring baby Enzo! Haven’t done any color pencil work for almost a year now but it was fun. The crazy patchwork of skin color of a newborn made this exercise a lot of fun. No serious artwork here but just passing time in the hospital with Ellie and little one.

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  • Faith Hope Love
    4/7 COLOR PENCIL

    This drawing is entitled “Faith Hope Love” and features my parents. It is a charcoal and color pencil on 9 x 12” toned-gray paper. This is my second attempt at charcoal work, and I love it!

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  • Bolero
    5/7 COLOR PENCIL

    This drawing is entitled “Bolero” and is a charcoal and color pencil on 9 x 12” tone-gray paper. The title comes from a Spanish dance, and the rose in Ellie’s hair somehow reminds me of a Spanish dancer. This is a first attempt for me with charcoal, and I found it to be a wonderfully expressive medium. Using white charcoal and tone-gray paper was a lot of fun! As you know, I simply have a hard time escaping my desire for some color, so I was planning all along to add the splash of color to the rose. Initially, I was thinking about using pastel, my favorite medium, but the chroma on the red would have overpowered the drawing. I was then going to use …charcoal willow sticks for the background but I decided it would have swallowed the facial features, so I went with shades of baby blue with darker tones near the lighter highlighted hair. The blue also complements the red rose and balances the drawing. Also, as you can see I can’t escape my passion for portraits and flowers. This drawing allowed me to combine my two passions into one subject. Hope you like it!

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  • Halo
    6/7 COLOR PENCIL

    This is entitled “Halo” and is a color-pencil painting on 16 x 20” sanded white paper. It features my wife Ellie and child Alessandra. I replaced Alessandra’s face with a more recent photograph (attached) because she has a better expression.

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  • Best Buddy
    7/7 COLOR PENCIL

    Finished my first color pencil work. This medium requires a lot of patience and a ton of time, especially because I didn’t use sanded paper, which would have cut my labor by a large degree. Again, this photo is terrible and makes the drawing look choppy when the gradients are much smoother in person. This color pencil on paper measures 30 x 22” and is entitled “Best Buddy” and features me and my dog Kumo. Hope you enjoy it!

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  • 1/18 The Purple Tree

    “The Purple Tree”, Oil on Canvas, 72 x 48 inches. My inspiration began by walking with Alessandra in the park and admiring how gorgeous the bare winter trees were. I loved the gorgeous complexity. I thought it would make an awesome painting. This painting went through multiple mental shifts before settling on the current form and even then morphed as I painted it. I found a great background that would work for the tree when I was looking at Reisha Perlmutter’s self-portrait, and I was also inspired by Tracy Hegelson’s pink trees. Initially, I was going to do pink trees but they lost the sense of strength against the background. I also tried to add a lot of detail to the trees in the main trunk but it looked weak and busy, and I tried this approached three different times, each time with utter failure. When I started to add the branches, they looked like a spider web, so I went back to the park, took multiple photos, and really studied how tree branches looked. I then noticed I added too much density on the right side and then needed to balance it on the left. I was afraid that this much density would look really bizarre and too busy. I settled on small patches of high density on the left and I added greater weight on the left and reduced the density by adding more medium-sized branches. I also tried to make the branches different in pattern, size, and shape (along with the use of negative space) in each section of the painting to add extra intrigue to the painting. I used principally three colors for the tree: Egyptian violet (this wonderful, slightly iridescent dark dark purple, Provence violet bluish (for the medium purple), and ivory black (to add depth), all from Williamsburg handmade oil paints. I also mixed in some pinks and other purples for added complexity. I worked on tone-on-tone shades to make it truly look like a silhouette but again with closer inspection you can see depth. I want this painting to be as interesting 10 feet away as from 10 inches. This massive painting will sit under my stairwell, and I will enjoy looking at it every day. I hope you enjoy it too!

  • 1/7 High Tea

    “High Tea”, Oil on linen panel (Raymar Artfix Belgian linen, quadruple oil primed), 11 x 14”. This playful painting was inspired by an artist who painted a little girl with crayons strewn across a desk. I can’t remember the artist’s name. With this inspiration, I had a professional photographer, who was photographing our family, capture this image above the table, whereas on the table I painted the individual items to complete the painting. The skin tone was truly awakened by Holbein’s Brilliant Pink that rendered a gorgeous glow to the skin tones. I’m always challenging myself as an artist, and I knew every part of this painting was technically challenging for me to execute. Nevertheless, I was able to finish it in a week’s time. Hope you enjoy it!

  • 1/17 Oil

    “La Vie en Rose”, oil on round wood panel, 30 in. diameter. The title obviously comes from the famous Edith Piaf song and is a triple entendre. My life I feel is definitely la vie en rose, i.e., wonderful; there are 15 roses in this painting; and the roses are pink and the word rose in French can mean both pink and the flower rose. This painting took 3 weeks to complete and is based on 22 reference photos since it was impossible to get a composed photo of all the elements (see included photo of me holding Enzo and Alessandra for an idea): reference photos included 15 photos of roses, Ellie’s face, Ellie’s hands, the monkey, Alessandra, Alessandra’s hand, the hair, and Enzo. Everything else is created by my invention and assembled accordingly. I’m exploring my two favorite themes: portrait and flowers. In this case, I knew that there was no better flower than the rose to capture the complexity of the portraiture. I also love metals and was able to blend bronze and gold for the stems and leaves with a hint of silver for the earring. The background is painted with Vasari’s pastel-colored paints. Love them! I’ve also shown you the custom white frame I just received, but the painting is too wet to frame. I hope you enjoy it!

    La Vie en Rose
  • 1/30 Alessandra’s Animals

    “Alessandra’s Animals”, Oil & Acrylic on Two 60 x 60 inch Canvases. I started with a fanciful idea of combining bright color with semi-abstracted animals. There are 40 animals! I then thought it would be fun to paint animals that Alessandra loves to say every day, hence the title of the painting. I moved from a very realistic painting for my last painting to now a very loose and semi-abstracted style using colors for optimal impact. I matched some animals and flowers (yes, I always have to have flowers) in a mirror-like symmetry for the two panels. I loved having fun with the insane colors and the loose style. Both panels of the diptych will be framed in a single floating 5 x 10 foot metal frame and will be hung in the hallway of my new home where you can see it through the window from the pool. I can’t wait to see it in its future home!

  • 1/20 Rabbit Redux

    “Rabbit Redux”, Oil & Acrylic on Paper, 18 x 24 inches. This fanciful painting was commissioned by my mom Carol Lam who liked the 🐰 I painted in my previous painting and wanted one for herself. A single rabbit to me seemed boring, so I made a large number of them in bizarre and funny colors in different sizes with different expressions. The painting lacked something at the end, so I added some carrots, cabbages, and grass to polish it off. I did it on paper so that I could send it in a roll to my mom who’s moving back to Canada for the next few months.

  • 1/23 Oil

    “Sea Dream”, Oil on Paper, 18 x 24 in. This painting was inspired by Alessandra at the pool. She looked so happy and I wanted to capture that moment. Her nanny Ruth has been pleading for me to paint her a painting of Alessandra, so I took the last 3 weeks to make this gift for her. I have a frame arriving today, but it won’t be ready to frame for a week or two. I decided to go more realistic with both Alessandra and the sea creatures, capturing the color and detail of the animals with little artistic alteration, which stands in contrast to my hyper-colored, semi-abstracted versions I did on my last two canvases. Alessandra knows these animals’ names in 3 languages: English, Spanish, and French. The biggest challenge for me in this painting was rendering the swimsuit correctly, and I wanted to see if I could capture the animals more realistically than I have done before. The name comes from the cruise that my parents, Ellie, and I are taking in a week.

    Sea Dream

Click each image to view larger.

  • Floris IThis is entitled “Floris I”. Oil on Black Gesso Canvas. 60 x 60 in. (5 x 5 ft.). This painting took me exactly a month to complete. As you know, I absolutely love flowers and have painted them in all levels of abstraction to realism. This is my most realistic portrayal of flowers but at the same time the arrangement is entirely unrealistic and fanciful. Painting realistic flowers on a table, for example, is more classical but a bit boring to me. Painting them realistically but in an unusual arrangement adds visual intrigue and renders the design modern. I will be making a similar one “Floris II” for a charity.
  • Artwork 1This is entitled “Halo” and is a color-pencil painting on 16 x 20” sanded white paper. It features my wife Ellie and child Alessandra. I replaced Alessandra’s face with a more recent photograph because she has a better expression in the newer photograph.
  • Artwork 2This painting is entitled “Together Through This” (Pastel on 22 x 19” Toned Gray Paper). This pandemic tragedy brought my wife and me closer together knowing that we rely on each other to get through these tough times, fully recognizing how blessed we are already and continue to be. We are also together with our Lord who is always with us, as represented in this painting. My faith is helping me cope with where we are. If you don’t have a faith, I would love to share with you what has given me hope and joy.
  • Artwork 3This painting is entitled “Dreams of Eze”. It is a soft pastel on 24 x 16” hot-press watercolor paper and it is dedicated to my dad (see below). It represents a radical departure for me from my previous work that attempted to achieve more realistic renderings. It is inspired by the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Fauvist movements. You can see boldly imagined impasto strokes, rough smears, exposed paper, and unrealistic colors. Sorry the colors in these photos look nothing like the original. It is also a memento to my father who painted Impressionist landscapes and figures with pastels. I hope he likes this painting from heaven. (I know he does! Miss you dad.). As we stay locked shelter in place, I dream of the time Ellie and I traveled to her favorite French Riviera town, Eze, where I brashly claimed I had been and we didn’t need to go because I studied French when I was in college in Provence. Well, I actually totally missed that city and went to the neighboring village Eze-Sur-Mer, which is nothing like it. Eze is an elevated medieval city filled with trellised gardens, cobblestoned streets, and magnificent views of the ocean. As you can see, I have reimagined parts of this painting with French Riviera flora as compared with the dry landscape of the original reference photo. I love color and love Matisse. Ellie’s dress is an homage to some of Matisse’s dress patterns. Also, the hotel where the movie Bucket List was filmed was where we stayed: Chèvre D’Or. Our bathroom was carved into the side of the mountain. I hope you enjoy your travel to southern France with me!
  • Artwork 4This painting is entitled “Sunrise over Santorini” and is a soft pastel on 22 x 30” hotpress watercolor paper. This painting incorporates Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and contemporary styles (inadvertently Hockney) using extremely bright, saturated colors that do not necessarily reflect reality but captures the imagination. I used no fine pastel pencils, only rough and saturated soft pastels. This painting continues my fantasy travel series during this Covid crisis. Santorini is one of my favorite places in the world, and this painting was based on our time at Astra Suites in Thira, in the center of the Santorini crater. As you can see from the reference photos, I moved the painting from sunset to sunrise to express the brighter colors. I also combined two photos into one so that I could capture the central peak and the two flanking curves of the crater in one image. Further, I moved the sun over compositionally to the left for better aesthetic balance. When we were there, in the morning we would have breakfast made to order on our balcony looking over the morning fog that settled over the craggy peaks. What a memory. I hope you enjoy these travels together!
  • Artwork 5This painting entitled “Ma Petite Ange” is my first attempt at doing an ink and wash painting, which was done on 10 x 14” cold-press fine-grain watercolor paper. I replaced Alessandra’s head with a still from a video since the original photo was taken about 6 months ago and I wanted to update her head. This is the first time I’ve been able to use my 108 set of Holbein watercolor paints from Japan, and they are magnificent!
  • Artwork 6This is the largest painting I’ve done 4’ x 16’ entitled “Spring Returns”, and it is an acrylic painting on clear acrylic panels. The title alludes to the Spring time we are currently in, our Spring that will return when this Covid crisis is over, and of course the flowers in the painting. It will be mounted floating in front of a limestone facade at the main entry of our wellness building when you walk in. As everyone knows, I love flowers and they cheer me up! Hope it cheers you up! I can’t show the painting as one piece because the painting is too long horizontally.
  • Artwork 7This drawing is entitled “Bolero” and is a charcoal and color pencil on 9 x 12” tone-gray paper. The title comes from a Spanish dance, and the rose in Ellie’s hair somehow reminds me of a Spanish dancer. This is a first attempt for me with charcoal, and I found it to be a wonderfully expressive medium. Using white charcoal and tone-gray paper was a lot of fun! As you know, I simply have a hard time escaping my desire for some color, so I was planning all along to add the splash of color to the rose. Initially, I was thinking about using pastel, my favorite medium, but the chroma on the red would have overpowered the drawing. I was then going to use charcoal willow sticks for the background but I decided it would have swallowed the facial features, so I went with shades of baby blue with darker tones near the lighter highlighted hair. The blue also complements the red rose and balances the drawing. Also, as you can see I can’t escape my passion for portraits and flowers. This drawing allowed me to combine my two passions into one subject. Hope you like it!
  • Artwork 8This drawing is entitled “Faith Hope Love” and features my parents. It is a charcoal and color pencil on 9 x 12” toned-gray paper. This is my second attempt at charcoal work, and I love it!
  • Artwork 9Happy New Year from the New Year baby, Alessandra! It is entitled “Happy” and it is a watercolor, gouache, and color pencil on 30”x 22” cold-press watercolor paper.
  • Artwork 10This painting is entitled “Double Portrait” and features my mom and dad. It is an acrylic painting on 6 x 4 feet canvas. It is my most ambitious painting to date and represents my first attempt at an acrylic portrait, very difficult considering the incredibly fast dry time but I liked the challenge. The painting is inspired by David Hockney’s 1971 painting of Sir David Webster which was of a similar size, color palette, and medium (see attached). In fact, I copied his table as an homage to the artist and his work. As you can see on the table there are three books. All books may or may not exist in reality but they do in my imagination. The first book is on Hockney’s double portraits, of which he is famous and which is why I entitled this painting double portrait. The cover features his famous Portrait of an Artist that sold for $90 million making him the most expensive living artist until he was eclipsed by Jeff Koons at $91 million. The painting on the cover of the book features a swimming pool and with my Santorini painting that had a swimming pool in it I was inspired to explore Hockney more in depth, which inspired this painting. The second book on the table entitled Museums of Naoshima references museums that I really want to see on a small island in southern Japan near my mother-in-law Masako’s home island of Shikoku and the book is an allusion to her. The bottom book on the Chèvre D’Or hotel in Eze is a stand in for my wife Ellie and also a reference to my previous painting on the same subject. The cross in the center of the painting represents the centrality of Christ in my life. The Sakura (cherry blossom) flowers represent my daughter (her middle name), and the same flower is in my dad’s handkerchief. The flowers are situated in a Ming vase, which represents my Chinese heritage. It also features two birds that my wife wanted me to paint, which represents us. The style of the painting is a mixture of realism and expressionism, the latter of which is especially expressed in the skin tones and facial features.
  • Artwork 11This painting is entitled “Shine On” and it is an acrylic on 5 x 5 feet canvas. The title has three meanings: the expression means to carry on and it refers to our ability during the Covid crisis to Shine On; it refers to one of Ellie’s (and my) favorite artists, Pink Floyd; and it refers to the sheer brilliance of colors including the use of bronze, copper, silver, and gold, along with violet and orange interference paints (the latter of which you can’t even see in this photo). This painting will be over my fireplace and you first approach it from 90 degrees down a long hallway. There is direct sunlight on it, and all you will see at first are these brilliant sparkles from an angle! This painting looks amazing in real life, but this photo capture 1% of the beauty of the original painting. The painting process required expanding and shrinking brush strokes, adjusting colors, and altering color values. It was a fun and truly challenging process.
  • Artwork 12This painting is entitled “Birds of Paradise” and is an acrylic painting on 6 x 6 foot canvas. This is the largest canvas that I’ve done these past few months, and it is so large that I couldn’t bring it upstairs to my art room and mount it on my easel, so I had to paint parts of it lying on my side on the floor. The painting combines an impressionist-style landscape with a realistic foreground consisting of birds, window, table, and vase. The title of the painting refers to the name of the flowers and the birds, of course. The vase also has a bird and flowers on it. The surreal painting will be the centerpiece of my dining room.
  • Artwork 13This painting is entitled “The Dance”. It is an acrylic on an 8 x 3 foot canvas. It is the tallest painting that I’ve ever done and it has taken me the longest time, a little over a week, that I have worked on a single painting. It is so tall that I had to use a ladder to paint the upper half of the painting. The title and concept are based on Matisse’s “The Dance”, which is featured on the right side. The vase of flowers and the angle of the painting are taken from one version that Matisse did with a vase of flowers with his painting of the Dance as an element within his painting, so my painting is a painting of painting within a painting. This painting will be at the end of a long hallway leading to my bedroom. I chose the jumping dancer as the focal point to fill this vertical frame. If you see, the perspective of the painting is also from an elevated vantage looking down as if you the viewer are also dancing in mid-air. I painted my wife’s face onto the pose of a dancer. I wanted the stillness and solemnity of my dog Kumo to anchor the bottom half of the painting.
  • Artwork 14This painting is entitled “Solitude in Santorini” and is an acrylic painting on 4 x 4 foot canvas. The idea came from Ellie wanting more abstract pieces for the home and my inability to escape figurative paintings. I thought that making 90% of the canvas filled with simple blues would appeal to her and fortunately she agreed to it. This painting is a sequel to my pastel “Sunrise in Santorini” and both feature Ellie in the pool at our hotel Astra Suites located in Imerovigli in Santorini looking right over the center of the crater facing the volcanic cliffs, the three peaks which you can see in the misty background. I used ultramarine blue, light ultramarine blue, and white for the sky, deep cerulean blue and white for the sea and the volcanoes, light phthalo green, light phthalo blue, white, and brilliant blue for the pool. The wall is a mixture of primary cyan, anthroquinine blue, and white. The shadow in the pool is composed of light phthalo blue and green, brilliant blue, white, and dioxazine purple. I transitioned from dark to light then light to dark from top to bottom and from blue to green and green to blue in the colors.
  • Artwork 15This work is entitled “The Long Journey” and is an acrylic painting on a 4 x 3 foot canvas. Ellie is shown after a long day of travel returning back to the hotel with a view of Mount Fuji. This is an imagined scene since I don’t recall ever staying in a hotel facing Mt. Fuji. It continues my themes of travel, Japan, and a split frame divided 50/50 like the last one of Ellie in a pool in Santorini facing the ocean. I love the colors of Mt. Fuji. I could look at that part of the painting for hours! The partially truncated head has multiple intentions. First, it shocks the viewer and frames the painting in a very unique way. Second, I was really inspired by an interview with the artist Cecily Brown who said that the face defines the narrative of the painting and overly dominates the painting (which is absolutely true), so by partially obscuring it the painting removes that element. Third, it’s a figurative statement that the mind is wiped out after a long day of travel. The open guide book set on the lap further symbolizes mental fatigue. The items in the room symbolize femininity like the purse, peaches, and shoes not to mention the swooning appearance. This is contrasted against the masculine presence of the mountain, which also has a feminine loveliness to it as well. There is a lightness to the upper half of the frame and heaviness to the lower half that provides another interesting contrast. The peaches also symbolize Japanese-ness, longevity, and truth. This painting will go in the hallway upstairs.
  • Artwork 16This work entitled “Big Rock Candy Mountain” is on two canvases of 5 x 5 feet making it 5 x 10 feet in total. This painting has morphed so many times and has finally landed as a bright and massive painting for Alessandra’s future nursery. The title is from the folksy joke song that Ellie loves to sing and reminds her of where she was born in northern Georgia/Tennessee. Of course, also these bright and stylized mountains look like big candies and hopefully will make her room tasty and joyous! I used almost half of my 16 oz. jar of titanium white to make the colors more pastel and muted, especially in the background where it is more distant and misty. Hope you enjoy this playful painting!
  • Artwork 17This colorful painting was done in acrylic and meant to evoke the beauty of cherry blossoms on a bright Spring background. It was inspired like many in this series from textile prints.
  • Artwork 18This is 5’x9’ oil & acrylic on canvas entitled “Giverny”, my first oil painting and largest canvas I’ve done. It is obviously inspired by my visit to Monet’s lovely garden a few months ago in August followed a week later by my visit to the Kimball to see Monet’s later years, a truly awe-inspiring exhibit. This is the farthest I’ve delved into representational art but I can’t escape some of my roots in abstraction, which is mainly exemplified here through the color scheme. The background, Japanese bridge, and water flowers were done in acrylic followed by the water lillies and trees in oil. I have included some details of the painting since it is near impossible to appreciate it on a mobile device.
  • Artwork 19This bamboo painting with copper leaves follows my passion for textile art and is highly stylized with a very flat look. It is located in the new expansion of my clinic.
  • Artwork 20This tall acrylic painting evokes a starry night with a lot of stylized lines and dots that do not have much visual meaning other than bearing their artistic value.
  • Artwork 21This diptych in acrylic represents dawn and dust from left to right and looks also like a rainbow.
  • Artwork 22This painting is entitled “Love” and features my wife Ellie and daughter Alessandra. It is a watercolor, gouache, and color pencil on a 30” x 22” cold-press watercolor paper.
  • Artwork 23This tetraptych is entitled “Family Portrait” and is pastel on 12 x 16” sanded color paper.
  • Artwork 24This acrylic painting is entitled “The Aviary” and inspired by fascination with textile design.
  • Artwork 25This acrylic painting is inspired by the famous Japanese woodblock print entitled “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai.
  • Artwork 26This acrylic painting is inspired by Matisse’s cutouts he did later in his life.
  • Artwork 27This drawing was done with graphite and uses the organic leaf motif seen in the previous painting above.
  • Artwork 28This acrylic painting continues the leaf motif and here they are used to create an abstract fruit tree.
  • Artwork 29A larger leaf motif painting with my favorite bright colors.
  • Artwork 30This 22 x 30” watercolor is entitled “Hug” and features my wife Ellie and my dog Kumo. The challenge was getting the dog fur looking good. It took me awhile to make that look pleasing to my eye. I like the vertical orientation and the use of negative space here. The colors really look much more striking in person.
  • Artwork 31This painting/drawing is entitled “Wonder” and features my daughter. It is a graphite and watercolor on 30 x 22” hot-press watercolor paper.
  • Artwork 32This piece is entitled “Radiant” and is graphite pencil and watercolor on 30 x 22” hot-press watercolor paper. It was taken just before our wedding on the beach in 2016.
  • Artwork 33This color pencil on paper measures 30 x 22” and is entitled “Best Buddy” and features me and my dog Kumo.
  • Artwork 34This pastel on sanded paper is entitled “Joy” and features my baby Alessandra.
  • Artwork 35This is a pastel on paper and it is based on the photo of my mother-in-law Masako and my daughter Alessandra taken after we visited the Monet exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum.
  • Artwork 36This painting entitled “Les Fauves” (6’ x 4’ Acrylic on Unprimed Canvas) was inspired by an exhibit that I saw in Tokyo of Raoul Dufy’s work on his textile designs. As you probably know, Dufy was known for his participation in the Fauvism movement (one of my favorites), which was known for its bright colors and abstracted style. Also I’ve been inspired by one of my favorite artists Morris Louis who was renowned for his “stained” paintings in the 1950s. This follows that style. I used airbrush and solid acrylics thinned and extended with GAC airbrush extender that allows it to soak into the unprimed canvas. I used different gradations of the paint to simulate a watercolor or stained look. Like watercolor, this technique is difficult because any mistake cannot be corrected: one drip, one drop, or one stroke out of place is unfixable.
  • Artwork 37This acrylic diptych is done with spray paint and is inspired by the artist Agnes Martin.
  • Artwork 38This is a large watercolor triptych I did for my new office expansion.
  • Artwork 39This 30” x 22” watercolor, gouache, and color pencil painting on cold-press watercolor paper is entitled “Family” and features my mom, dad, and baby Alessandra.
  • Artwork 40This 30 x 22” watercolor is entitled “My Love” and was rescued from the brink of disaster. There is a gouge and a tear on the paper near my right ear, Ellie’s eyes were messed up, and the watercolor bled uncontrollably. I was depressed and was going to chuck the whole thing. I knew that if I could save Ellie’s eyes and make them look good this watercolor had a fighting chance. I used a white gel ink pen to reshape the eye and a dark blue color pen until I saw her identity return. I then fixed the skin tones, fixed the hair and the dress, and then used a darker shade of blue to cover the deepest part of the tear that corresponded to the top of my ear and did a darker shade of sky over the tear then lightened the tear with gouache. Not perfect but pretty good. This was taken right before our wedding in Cabo on the beach. Great memory!