On Color and Social Media, Obsession and Restraint

Is it possible to be addicted to a paint color? I'm not sure that's a good thing, as I don't like the feeling of being overly-dependent on anything.  So I am really trying to temper my use, while at the same time exploiting the values of having it around. This also describes my experience with Social Media, and particularly with Facebook. I imagine Facebook still has some value to the small business, but on a personal level, it can prove a real time-waster, not to mention maddening, irritating, and downright invasive. On a personal level it's also a source of inspiration and community and sharing, which is why I joined up in the first place. But it is really hard in this case to exploit the positives while also avoiding the darker temptations and traps, so I am limiting myself overall.

 "Afternoon Breeze, Rockland Breakwater", Oil on linen, 20x24"

"Afternoon Breeze, Rockland Breakwater", Oil on linen, 20x24"

For a long time I was resistant to jumping on the Facebook bandwagon. And it could be argued that when I finally did sign on, I may have come in at the tail end of an era where the platform provided a real benefit to small businesses for little to no investment other than a bit of time. As time went on, though, Instagram and Facebook began to replace blogging for me. After all, it was faster and seemed likely to reach many more people quicker than I could through blog subscribers alone. 

 "Forsythia and Blue Delft", Oil on linen, 20x24"

"Forsythia and Blue Delft", Oil on linen, 20x24"

That's still an argument that can be made, but aside from the fact that Facebook is very much in the headlines these days, (and for reasons that are not all that flattering to the company) it seems harder and harder to find the same kind of reach that one could find in the good old days. I guess that's by design, in order to tempt users to buy ads. That's fine. It's a business model, and business is business I suppose.

But the price to be paid goes beyond money. It's the price of time, and yes, privacy. Say what you will about the fact that "nothing is private online." I don't argue with that or hold any illusions. I have never taken the silly quizzes or posted anything deeply personal that I haven't minded sharing. I understand that all of my info that I share is "out there". What bothers me is that my privacy decisions affect the privacy of my friends and vice-versa. Not only that but friends of friends. And not only them, but it turns out Facebook will even track the internet habits of people who never signed up for the service at all. That bothers me.  Facebook argues that anyone can go in and lock down third party apps and ultimately control a lot of what is shared. I have gone in and done that as much as I am capable of understanding how to do it. The problem is that in doing so, it renders the ease of sharing posts across platforms nearly impossible without spending an excessive amount of time on it.

Aside from all of that, I've found that my over-reliance on an outside platform to promote my work has resulted in the neglect of my self-hosted blog, and to a lesser extent, my website and even my studio time. I'm so incredibly short on time these days, and, let's face it, even peeking at your news feed or groups makes Facebook  a real time-suck.

Truth be told, I'm not sure how many people even read blogs any more, but I feel they still hold value, and think it would be a good idea to give blogging another shot. My hope is that people who are truly interested in my work will come find me here on my own domain first, with social and search serving as feeders. That seems to be the way it should be, but it's not the way it's been. 

 "Winter Light at Stony Run Trail", Oil on linen, 20x24" 

"Winter Light at Stony Run Trail", Oil on linen, 20x24" 

I'm still sharing my work on social media (my preference these days is Instagram) but I'm going to step back from it a bit and give the old blog a little more love. As for the other obsession I mentioned, I have left a few clues for you in this post. These are a few of my recent paintings that I've shared on social media that I had neglected to blog about. The commonality among these pieces is the predominance of that certain color. Any guesses as to what it might be? Let me know in the comments and I'll 'fess up about it in my next post. 

Lemons and a Springtime Shawl

 "Lemons With a Springtime Shawl", Oil on linen, 24x24" ©Jennifer E Young

"Lemons With a Springtime Shawl", Oil on linen, 24x24" ©Jennifer E Young

It's been a while since I painted a still life, and this one almost didn't make it. In fact, it sat around in my studio for about a month 3/4 of the way complete and my plan was actually to just paint over it or throw it through the window, whichever came first. What happened was my little kitten tore down my still life setup not one, not two, but THREE times. You might think I would find some way of preventing this, but at the moment I am painting in a small room in the house that also happens to have our only cat door that leads out to the screened porch (and litter box). The last time the take-down happened I was so disgusted I just left the whole setup on the floor for a while in a sorry heap, took the painting off the easel and turned it to the wall, where it sat in infamy for about a month.

!I think it was the little  blue pom-poms on the shawl. They were just too tantalizing dangling over the edge of the bureau like that, and I guess no self-respecting kitten could resist. Any way, it was a true miracle that the rice bowl and ginger jar didn't smash into a million pieces, but they survived somehow. And so did my painting! Yesterday I put the canvas back up on the easel with the thought that I'd at least rescue the cost of the linen canvas and paint over top of it. But as I took another look I thought,  well maybe I should at least see if I can open the surface back up and finish the thing. If I hate it I can always scrape it down and paint over top, right?  Well I did finish it (with the kitten in exile). And what do you know? I'm glad I did. 

P.S. I've added a few detail shots of this painting on it's product page. Click on the painting above to view.

Last Blush

I spent a really fun week visiting with my sister and her kids, so I've been a little silent here on the blog lately. I also find that I post so frequently to my Facebook page via mobile (and I've just started up with Instagram too) that I may miss an update or two on the blog. Silent no more! I  found myself pretty tired today, but since the hubs offered me a free morning of childcare so that I could paint, I couldn't pass it up. Once again,  I opted for a very short commute to the patio:

  "Last Blush" Oil on Linen, 8x10"   © Jennifer E Young, All rights reserved

"Last Blush" Oil on Linen, 8x10"  © Jennifer E Young, All rights reserved

I never know whether to call paintings like these a still life or a plein air painting. I guess they are both! This potted hydrangea is one I carried over from the old house. It is still hanging onto its blooms, but they are fading now, from a bright pink to more of a dusty rose. I went back to traditional oils for this piece, mainly because I still have quite a supply of them and I may need to save the water miscible variety for when I need to paint indoors.

During this painting session I tried out a new little gizmo I've had my eye on for a while. It is the Tiffen #1 black and white viewing filter.

tiffen1
tiffen1

The vendor product info states:

"Often called the "Director's" filter this hand held filter converts color scenes to shades of black and white. It allows the photographer to "see" the black and white contrast and tone before finalizing the exposure."

It's pretty neat because you can wear the thing around your neck and hold it up to your eye with the little handle so as not to smudge the glass. I found it useful to check my values with it, especially the dark passages. But I'm not sure about the highlights. They seemed to appear a bit duller when peering through the filter. I may justI have to get used to using it for a while. I will report back after I have had a chance to use it a little more, but I think it might be a fairly helpful tool to check the value relationships in my work during my process, especially if they are in question.

First painting since the move!

After re-reading my post from yesterday I started to feel like a wimp, complaining about the heat and all. Then I tried it and realized that heat stroke does not improve your art one iota! All kidding aside, it was boiling lava hot outside on my patio. I only lasted about an hour before I decided I'd have to leave it until the next day, and pick up where I left off. And so I painted this piece over two sessions, noting the time of day and returning to wrap up at the same time this morning.

  "A Taste of Summer" Water soluble oils on Linen, 12x12"   Jennifer E Young

"A Taste of Summer" Water soluble oils on Linen, 12x12"  Jennifer E Young

This little outdoor still-life setup includes the herbs and flowers I brought from my old place, as well as a big beautiful housewarming gift from our new neighbors (the pink and orange spray behind the basil). A  marriage of old and new,  I felt it was the perfect subject to kick off this new beginning.

I experimented with this painting using Cobra water-soluble oil paints by Royal Talens . I was inspired to try them when I started following the very talented painter Mark Hanson's discussions about them on Facebook and on his blog. I have friends who use water miscible oils, too, but having tried them before without success I haven't been compelled to try them again. But when Mark suggested that his migraine headaches may have gone away after switching to these oils, I took notice and decided to try this new (to me)  line of paints myself.

I have suffered from insomnia for years, and yet ever since we moved to the new house, I have only had two bad nights. That's pretty incredible! Coincidentally, with the exception of yesterday and today,  I have not painted since we've been here. Is it possible there is some other reason for my new-found improved sleep? Absolutely. But it's also possible the fumes were getting to me and I didn't even realize it. It has also bothered me for a while that I am eating as much organic and natural food as I can afford, I'm also inhaling volatile organic compounds on a daily basis in my work. And if we ultimately decide to set up my studio in our current attached garage, water soaked paper towels are going to be a lot safer than ones soaked with mineral spirits, odorless or not!

I first tried water-soluble oils several years ago. I believe they were Winsor & Newton's Artisan series. At the time I found the handling too gummy and tacky and not to my liking at all. I may not have given them a fair shake though, because in recent weeks I have read that you really should not thin your paints with water or it will produce that tacky, gummy effect and make the paints rather dull and cloudy looking. Instead, Mark advised not to rinse off your brushes too much with water, but to just wipe off the brushes as much as possible in between color mixture sinstead, and save the water for the final cleanup. If needed, use a water miscible oil painting medium created specifically for these paints rather than water to increase viscosity.

That advice made a world of difference and I found myself painting without fighting with my materials. There was a slight difference in the handling and a few old habits to overcome, but nothing so difficult as to put me off. I would say they did not flow as easily for me as my traditional oils, and the color intensity was a tad weaker, but not by a tremendous amount. On the other hand, they have absolutely no odor and seem like they would be great for travel.

From what I have read so far, the drying time may be a bit longer than what I'm used to. But that should not be an issue for ole' Pokey, here. I do hope they dry well and evenly, without any dull passages or great shifts in color or value. I will report back on this if I notice anything remarkable. I look forward to experimenting more with these paints. I really hope these will be my new go-to paints, and that I can ditch the OMS once and for all!

Primrose and Irises

Here's a little celebration of the color violet :-) . I scaled up a bit for this still life. It's still not that big, but given I'm not yet painting these florals at a very fast clip, I felt the difference and it took me a little while to bring it to a conclusion.

  "Primrose and Irises" Oil on Canvas, 20x16"  © Jennifer E Young

"Primrose and Irises" Oil on Canvas, 20x16" © Jennifer E Young

I am learning to tackle the cut flowers first. Those babies shift and turn and then have the nerve to shrivel up on you long before you're ready to see them go! The irises are now things of the past, but the potted primrose is still going strong.