June 2022 Artist Spotlight — Calvin Liang
Calvin Liang joins Carmel Visual Arts each year to lead a plein air painting workshop. He talked about his process with our Director, Rich Brimer. Read the highlights below.
Calvin Liang became fascinated by the beautiful California landscape and transformed himself into a fine artist, painting themes of his choosing. Now his well-known sailboats crashing through waves, to the rocky California coastline, to Spanish missions of centuries past, Calvin Liang’s masterful oils never fail to impress and inspire. Rediscover beautiful land and seascapes through Calvin’s eyes. He is a signature member of the California Art Club, a master signature member of Oil Painters of America, a signature member of Oil Painters of America, and Laguna Plein Air Painter’s Association. He is the recipient of numerous art awards and is featured in many art magazines.
Calvin Liang talks about his process…
CVA: What are the most essential elements to think about when painting?
Calvin: Shape, Color, Value, Edges — These are the four elements to make a painting. This is for any kind of painting; seascape, portrait, still life, landscape, even abstract—any kind of subject. This is the same as when music uses Do Re Me Fa So… Any type of music uses the same scale, so art uses the same 4 elements — Shape, Color, Value, and Edges. But not JUST shape; They must have beautiful shapes, beautiful color, beautiful values, and beautiful edges.
CVA: How do you decide what subject matter you will paint?
Calvin: Whenever you see the line and shadow, THAT’S the painting. It is basically back to shapes. But, I usually paint seascapes. Partly because of the market, but basically, for me, I pay attention to the light and shadow. Seascapes are my favorite. When I see the ocean, I get so excited. When I was first asked in a magazine interview “Why are you so crazy about the Seascapes?” I told them I am a city boy, but saw the ocean for the first time when I was 18 years old. Oh, my goodness, I was so excited. So when I moved to the United States, I went to the ocean to paint.
CVA: Your commercial work was as an illustrator and making storyboards and backgrounds for the animation industry. How do you find that being helpful in your current fine-art work?
Calvin: I learned how to create an environment for the subject. I put the focal point in the foreground or the middle ground. This is what I learned from the animation industry.
CVA: I love the way you compose your paintings. Tell me what are some of the best things to know when choosing a “subject” or “focus” in a landscape environment.
Calvin: For me, the subject is not important, but the location of the subject is very important. It could be a boat, a person, or a wave, but everything around the painting supports that focal point. The background supports the subject. If you put the focal point in the background, the painting seems to have a subject that gets lost. Remember, pay attention to the light and shadow.
CVA: Where do you look for inspiration in your art?
Calvin: In animation, the storyboard artists really have to follow the script. In fine art, it is the “idea” that inspires me in my paintings. I love warm red. My eyes filter the warm colors. It makes me really love the subject. Also, I really love the warm colors. It depends on what kind of filter is in your eyes. Each artist has a natural way of seeing that is different from other artists. I just paint the way that I see. People say “Calvin, you paint with warm colors” and I say, it’s just the way my eyes filter everything.
Thanks, Calvin for the many years of teaching with Carmel Visual Arts and for answering these questions about you and your approach to artmaking.
Find out about the next
Calvin Liang Plein Air Workshop