Last Image Update:March 18, 2010
Updated Section(s):Main Page
Next Update:May 2, 2010

Enter         Gallery   Résumé   Contact

Welcome to the Art Showcase of Alan Ho

» What's new:

March 18, 2010

Hi there here's another quickie update. Life has been busy, as usual.

The greatest thing about sketching on the road is that I can hone my observation skills and techniques. However, lugging around a watercolour sketchbox is not always the best option when you are outdoor.

Therefore, I have been experimenting with doing it digitally. With interesting sketching softwares made for iPhone or other handheld devices, you can sketch on the go - with colours no less. It really helps to eliminate the fuss.



January 1, 2010 - Part II

For my long term visitors, you may notice I updated my main page image on the left. Yes, the long-awaited image update is finally here! Go to the Gallery page to look around!

All the works from 2009 are influenced by my travels in Japan and China, as well as my stay in New York few years ago. I hope the viewers can get that excitement of exploration and discovery leaping off the paper. Even though I make a small amount of etchings this year, I am happy with the result as I pushed myself as much as I could. The few more complexed ones have been in my mind for a few years, waiting for my etching skills to catch up. Finally this past year I was able to pull them off and I have to say I am very satisfied.

Here's to a great new year with even better works rolling out! And I hope you have a great year too, dear reader!

January 1, 2010 - Part I

Hi and happy new year! Here's the much needed update. It's quite hectic after my show at the Queen West Art Crawl as the non-art stuff started to flood around me. As a result, the art stuff was put on the back-burner a little bit. In any case, I am happy with my 2009 output given the circumstance of balancing the art and non-art stuff.

I was on the commute a lot the past couple of months so it was a great chance to do some live drawing. Here are some. It's interesting to try to figure out what seat I should take to avoid people discovering me drawing them. Usually if people find out I am drawing them, they become too conscious and it ruins the drawing.

(left) 20-minute sketch; the lady shifted in the end so didn't finish it quite right
(right) 40-minute sketch; this lady was so focused on her novel that she didn't move a muscle

(left) Really happy how the drawing of the guy turned out; he was on his cellphone
(right) 40-minute sketch; I was on a long bus ride!

Now go see part two of the update!

September 3, 2009

Here's me working on an aquatint plate. A very delicate process and time was needed to be spent on test strips (the bottom right). The test print in the middle shows the pre-aquatint etching. More details on this process on our next update.

So here's what I am working towards. Yep, the Queen West Art Crawl which is going to be on the 19th and 20th at the Trinity-Bellwood Park by Queen and Strachan. Runs from 11 to 6 both days. Will be at booth A-07.

View Larger Map

I quite enjoyed working on this show last year so I think it will be great this year too. Hope to see you there!

August 15, 2009

I hate to tease but this update is going to be a bit leaner. Just quite a bit to work on the new prints and all my time is comsumed by them. Here are the process shots making them; make sure you click on them to enlarge!

Showing how the image is transferred onto the metal plate. The first step is to use carbon copy paper (anybody who signed a cheque or used a credit card in the '80s and '90s would know these paper; it's kind of funny how you have to be out on a limb to get them nowadays). Basically you draw on them so that a carbon line is traced onto the plate. The plate is covered at the moment with a thin layer of wax; hence it's brown in colour. So in this photo you can see the carbon paper being flipped over at the top and the actual plate marked with a thin outline on its waxed surface.

Here is another photo with a different plate at the next stage. At this point I use a metal tool with one end coming to a fine point (think something like a nail attached to a wooden pen handle) and scratch lightly on the surface. The point is not to make a scratch on the metal material of the plate itself but scratch off the wax bits. So here you can see these glorious golden lines showing wherever the wax is scraped off. The gold colour reflects the true colour of the plate, which, in this case, is copper (zinc is also being used sometimes).

Due to the high demand of copper as raw material nowadays in China and India, its price is actually pretty high. In turn, for the poor artists, this no doubt adds to the cost of things. Most artists, however, utilize both sides of the copper plate for different images to save money.

So you want to know what's the next step? Well I won't reveal too much now but suffice to say there will be some acid going around with the next update. Cheers!

July 15, 2009

Gearing up for the Queen West Art Crawl in September. One big thing that happened was that the studio lease was up so I am studio-less for now. However, I have been catching up with making more prints with the previous etched plates at the print studio – Open Studio. So it's working out good.

Here are some process shots of my re-printing at the print studio:-

Here on the right is the zinc plate which has the etched line (ie. the microscopic canal that holds the ink) and aquatinted areas of shades and shadows (ie. large areas of small dotted grooves grouping tightly together that hold ink). On the left is a test print printed on a piece of blank newsprint paper; the plate image is mirrored onto the paper. This print is "Reward after the Hike".


The left photo is the metal plate of "The Return" with the ink sitting in the canal grooves of the lines and the dotted grooves of the shaded areas. Notice the top right corner of the plate is void of ink because it's the sky area.

The right photo has two test prints. You can see how both of them failed the test because I set the pressure of the printing press too light and the image came out looking faded. Eventually I set the pressure correctly and printed it on a piece of printing paper shown at far right.

All these prints are embossed right at the edges of the images because the roller on the printing press pressed the plate into the paper with such a high pressure that results in the embossed edges.


My working table to apply the ink on the metal plate surface. The photo on right shows the custom color batch mixed up from the tiny blobs of stock colors at top left.


Finally, the printing press. You can see the roller attached to the turnstile–like handles. On the press bed laid the inked–up plate. The pressure of the press comes from how close the roller sits on the press bed with a tiny gap allowing clearance for the plate, paper and blankets (which protect the plate and paper).

At this point you would lay a piece of paper on there. Lay some blankets on top of that, turn the handles to feed the press bed through the roller, pull the paper from the press bed and you got yourself a print!

I hope you enjoy this little show–and–tell. It is such a fascinating process and I am very happy to have learnt how to do all this because the imagery that comes out is just amazing. Until next time, cheers. Oh, before I forget, let me say bye to my studio!

June 15, 2009

Good news! I am accepted by the Queen West Art Crawl people for their show in September! I will be spending some serious time in the etching studio and I honestly cannot wait. I am turning some drawings (including the one from the previous post) into prints. It's very exciting!

The last month I was having the photo bug and snapping away at things. So instead of showing sketches, I am showing some photos:-

(left) Got lucky at the right moment
(right) A car accident sighted on my way back home; I read that the people involved wasn't too seriously hurt though.

(left) Macro of a flower slightly bigger than my thumb
(right) Poppy; petals fell off the next day I passed by

(above) An ornament sitting under beautiful weather the past Friday

Aaannnd that's a wrap up! I'll see you in a month!
May 27, 2009

Whoops. I am really sorry to disappoint those who have been checking in for an update. I will be more diligent in delivering content in the future.

To start off this time, I've finished the drawing I showed you last time and here it is:–

It involves a group of travelers transferring to an unknown destination. I'm quite happy with the space depicted.

This time I've added this drawing and a few of my paintings done in 2008 to the gallery section, please check them out.

The past month I went to travel in China and had a great time seeing, sketching, and taking photos of things. Here are some of the sketches and photos (with captions)!

(left) Sketch done on airplane
(right) Ink brush quickie of a gate at the Forbidden City in Beijing

(left) Sketches of impressions of the Xian mountain terrain
(right) Sketch on one of the mountaintops of Mount Hua

(above) Similar view to the previous sketch

(left) Tour bus broke down and toolbox to the rescue!
(right) Breakfast vendors

(left) Little girl looking at her friends
(right) Obamania at an art gallery! I should've bought it...

(left) Forbidden City and the horde of tourists
(right) Chilling out by the entrance area of the Forbidden City

(left) Decorative elements on a building rooftop inside the Forbidden City
(right) Breakfast in Beijing with steamed buns served in bamboo steamers (the round stack)

(left) Terracotta Warriors in Xian
(right) More!

(left) A barge sailing out from pier in Hong Kong
(right) My highschool friend's cat; he got two more

(left) Some plants at the Flower Market in Hong Kong
(right) Some aloe; 2 US dollars a pot

It's really great to travel and see life bustling around you. I really look forward to transfer all that energy into my works. That's it for today's update and I'll see you next time!

March 15, 2009

Weather in Toronto now is a bit cold but so far this winter is nicer than the one before. I can't wait for spring to come though (probably not coming till May.) I have been working hard, playing catch-up on some sketch ideas I'd a while ago. It's a long process for me to arrive at some imagery that I want and sometimes I would've an idea in my head and would start to draw and stop. The break can be 2 weeks or 2 months or even longer. The idea would brew in my head the whole time and I would pick it up and finish it after all that time.

So that's what I've been doing. My study in New York and trip to Japan a couple years back have big impacts on me and even to this day I would wake up and certain things I observed then would flash back to me. I am trying to retain or transform these things I saw in my drawings/etchings.

Here're some new snapshots of the studio...



Over the past two years I have been thinking about how colours have such an important role in painting, as opposed to lines with drawing. I really try my best to hone my colour sense and work on my colour range. Here is a shot of my work table set up for oil paintingon the left, and on the right it is my so-called colour databank — that's all the colours I've mixed for the past two weeks! I save the colours for a period of time just in case I need to do some touch-up work, or when I have to re-mix a certain colours for whatever reason. The larger photo is a progress shot of my works from three months ago. Now they are all done and will be in the Art Crawl show in two days. I can hardly wait!

December 16, 2008

Hi again! Three months quickly sped by and we are getting close to Christmas. A mix of snow and rain in Toronto) here's hoping that snow in the coming months is not going to be as crazy as in early 2008.

Just a bit of recap on the QWAC show I did back in September (see previous entry); it's a wet weekend and I'd never done a show with such crazy weather before. Luckily, it only rained a bit during the shows (it rained cats and dogs during the pack-up, however). I was pleasantly surprised by the people who showed up despite the weather and made some nice acquintances (thanx Mark for your letters!) and catched up with my old friends as well.

Beyond that, I'd made some good sales of my works. That really encouraged me to make more, especially etching prints. Time to get back into my sketchbook and make some more drawings!

Before I take off, I just want to show your some more of my oil paintings (see here). Hope you like them and have a great Christmas!

September 11, 2008

I haven't come in to update for a while but I have been busy cranking the paintings out. Although this is a bit of short notice, I am going to be in the Queen West Art Crawl this weekend. I am very excited about this as this is my first time showing at this venue and also I will be showing a new body of oil painting works.

Date:      Saturday September 13th & Sunday September 14th
Location: Trinity Bellwoods Park (790 Queen St. West @ Strachan Ave.)
Time:      11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Booth #:  C09

If you are around the neighbourhood, come out and enjoy the weekend! Oh, the below picture on right is a map of the park; it indicates where I will be. Cheers!


I suppose while I am updating this, I should really show you some other stuff... my studio pics, for example.


Over the past two years I have been thinking about how colours have such an important role in painting, as opposed to lines with drawing. I really try my best to hone my colour sense and work on my colour range. Here is a shot of my work table set up for oil paintingon the left, and on the right it is my so-called colour databank — that's all the colours I've mixed for the past two weeks! I save the colours for a period of time just in case I need to do some touch-up work, or when I have to re-mix a certain colours for whatever reason. The larger photo is a progress shot of my works from three months ago. Now they are all done and will be in the Art Crawl show in two days. I can hardly wait!

March 26, 2008

Many apologies!! My website disappeared completely for three weeks without notice until two days ago. I am sorry it happened but my website's server died and a laptop has been in its place to be a temporary solution. I understand that there are some of you out there keep checking back to this site so my most sincere apology to you all. I will be looking into an alternative server very soon (hopefully it will be stable and robust).

I hope I can make up with a more substantial update today. It has been a very productive run for me for the past three weeks. Have been going into the studio constantly and working on more oil paintings. Here's a quick-and-dirty parorama shot of my studio from last week.


I would say that it's not exactly organized but it wasn't utter chaos either. :-) The left side is my material shelf with, among other things, some reference books I have been amassing over the past three years. I have set up a Julian easel for my oil painting needs because it does the job of holding small panels perfectly. On the far right, there are two watercolour studies of my friend Myly Pham. I am going to incorporate her image into a new piece of work later on.

For the two new oil pieces I have done (including the frontis piece on the left of this page), please check out the gallery.

January 12, 2008

Hi there! Just a quickie update. I am in a group show at Ben Navaee Gallery right now on Queen Street East. Its address is 1111 Queen Street East and it's opened everyday from 1pm to 5pm. It runs from Jan 12 till 18. It's a drawing show and there are a few good drawings in there by other artists as well. If you are around the neighbourhood please check it out. The space is beautiful. Below is a digital flyer.


Oh and by the way, two doors down from the gallery there is the most amazing sushi place called "Sushi Marché" and they have the best sashimi my family has ever had in Toronto. Note that they are take-out only.

I am working on some oil paintings now and it's great to go back to this medium which I used quite a bit in my graduate years. I am doing several layers and each layer has to be dry before the next one goes on so they are all taking a bit more time to make. Stay tuned and come back next month; I am sure I have something to show you then. Cheerios.

For previous entries, please click here