Whew! I had a lot of starts and stops with this painting, but it’s finished.
There were times when I really needed to scrape whole portions of it down because there was too much buildup to make adjustments. It brought to mind a quote attributed to Everett Raymond Kinstler that I read recently in a very good article by Bill Davidson posted on the Oil Painters of America blog,
“I start out in this way thinking, ‘this will be the greatest painting of this subject matter ever painted.’ Later in the process I think, ‘this will be the greatest painting of this subject matter I ever painted,’ and finally I think, ‘Hell! I hope I can save this painting!’ [paraphrased]”
Now I can’t say that I’ve so far stated anything close to the first sentence of that quote, but the progression of feeling from confidence to doubt certainly rings true, especially when there is a lot of time invested in a piece.
“Quiet Reflection, Southern France”
Oil on Linen, 20×24″
The subject matter is the dappled morning light as it plays across a part of an old convent building and surrounding water garden. This place is now converted to a B&B and venue for painting holidays (aptly named Le Vieux Couvent) in the town of Frayssinet, France. I blogged about my visit there numerous times. It is a lovely place that I remember with great fondness.
…And now,I’m going to get a bit off topic by asking a favor of my readers. I seem to be having some trouble having my posts delivered to subscribers by email. So if you actually do happen to receive this post via your email subscription, could you please let me know?
Posted in Art Travels, French Landscapes, Garden paintings
Tagged art, artist, artistic_inspiration, artwork, art_travels, dordogne, France, french_paintings, French_village_painting, garden_paintings, impressionism, jennifer_young, landscape_painting, oil_painting, paintings_for_sale, paintings_of_flowers, paintings_of_water, southern_france, work-in-progress
It has been 4 months since my last
confession post. I realize my blogging has been extremely spotty over the past year or so, and I think it is time to ‘fess up about the reason for my silence before getting to my work-in-progress. Longtime readers may recall my mention before of, in the midst of being a new mother, my struggle with some health issues. Well it got worse before it started getting better, and these two major life challenges has meant the painting has had to take a back seat. In a nutshell, I developed an autoimmune condition after the birth of my L.O., and one of the main (and most debilitating) symptoms has been chronic insomnia. Now you’d think that with insomnia I might as well get up and out to the studio and do some painting! But it hasn’t worked out that way because along with the insomnia came some pretty significant muscle pain and (not surprisingly) extreme fatigue.
Before motherhood, I was able to maintain a fairly steady process of work and productivity. Certainly some days were more productive than others, but overall I took my painting life seriously and showed up to work whether “the inspiration hit” or not. I still take my painting life seriously, but my recent life and health changes have thrown me for a loop. I have seen some improvement lately, so I remain optimistic that I can get this all sorted out. But it seems to be two steps forward and one step back.
Mundane tasks are manageable, but creative work simply does not happen for me on 3-4 hours (or less) of sleep for months on end; particularly when I am also taking care of a toddler. Contrary to what a lot of people think, painting is as much an intellectual process as it is an emotional one (perhaps even moreso) and it requires a lot of brain power, focus, and concentration. With plein air painting, where the concerted effort is even more heightened, there is the added need for a good deal of phyical stamina as well. So if you happen to see me post a plein air painting here on the blog, you can assume that I must’ve been blessed with the miracle of a few good night’s sleep beforehand! Okay, so enough of the old lady talk.
This painting, the very beginnings of which I wrote about in my prior post, in (ahem!) late December, is finished. Quite a bit different from the plein air study I based this on, but the study was still a good reference for the light, and helped bring back the experience of being there. Click on the image for more info:
“Path to St. Germain du Bel Air”, oil on linen, 24×30″
I feel like it has been ages since I have painted en plein air. Perhaps I feel this way because it is true! But while time, obligation, and health have kept my plein air painting at bay lately, I still think about it very much (not without a lot of longing) and I find myself digging out what plein air pieces I still have and meditating on them.
It seems to me that even the weakest studies contain valuable information. Studio works have their place and purpose, and (the good ones) posess a grandeur that is harder to acheive en plein air. But there is a quality about the plein air paintings that continues to distinguish them in my heart and mind as something very special. As incomplete and insufficient as some of them are, they are infused with life and an immediacy that I still find hard to match in the studio. Still, given my life situation at the moment, I shall have to try.
One day recently when I was feeling particularly “homesick” for plein air painting, I came across this little piece that I painted during my trip to the Dordogne. It was tucked away in a stack of unfinished studies that I have not looked at in a long time:
I put it away mainly because I ran out of time to finish it on site, and I really haven’t thought much about it since. It doesn’t have the wildflowers that were in the field, the middle distance is unresolved, and it is lacking contrast in the row of nearby trees, as well as some other detail. But what it does have is some really good information about the light, as well as a nice loose, light touch that reflects the breeziness of that morning in early summer. And as I looked at it with new eyes, I started to think about new possibilities, and how I might translate the information in this scene to a larger studio canvas.
The location was near a public park just on the outskirts of a little village in France called St. Germain de Bel Air. There were these enormously tall trees that I believe were poplars. They always remind me of Monet because he painted a series of these trees in the countryside near Giverny. I was attracted to the scene not only because of the trees, but because of the way they lined the simple country path that led to the village, and the shadows they cast in great diagonals across the picture plane.
We will see how it goes, but here is my (very) preliminary layout on a 24×30″ canvas.
Posted in Art Travels, French Landscapes, Plein Air Painting, The artist's life
Tagged art, artist, artwork, art_travels, dordogne, France, french_paintings, French_village_painting, impressionism, jennifer_young, landscape_painting, oil_painting, paintings_for_sale, painting_on_location, plein_air_painting, southern_france, the_painting_process, work-in-progress
I’ve been struggling with a killer cold or allergy or something for over a week now, so it’s really thrown me for a loop in the studio. But I have now finished the French village painting I have been blogging about in my last couple of posts (here and here). I did not have a chance to take any more progression shots due to the amount of time I lost, so my apologies to those who were following the progression of the work-in-progress.
“Rooftops, St. Cirq Lapopie”
Oil on Linen, 30×24″
Click here for details and purchasing info.
There was a certain quality of light I was after in this painting…a slight haziness that comes on a warm day when the sun begins to filter through the clouds after a soft rain (the weather when I visited there could best be described as “changeable”!) So there are a soft edges and close values to tackle, especially in the middle and far distance.
St. Cirq Lapopie is a fortressed village dating back to the Middle Ages. Sitting high above the Lot River, it is, as I mentioned in my prior post, dripping with so much charm that it really does invoke fairy tales of knights and damsels in distress!Narrow cobbled streets wind their way through cliffsides, leading up to a fortressed peak that allows stunning views of the steep tiled rooftops and the Lot valley.
Posted in Art Travels, French Landscapes, Garden paintings, Painting Demonstrations, The artist's life
Tagged art, artist, artistic_inspiration, artwork, art_travels, dordogne, floral_art, flowering_trees, France, french_paintings, French_village_painting, garden_paintings, impressionism, jennifer_young, landscape_painting, oil_painting, paintings_for_sale, paintings_of_flowers, painting_demonstrations, southern_france, street-scene, the_painting_process, work-in-progress
As it turned out, there was too much weather and too little opportunity to do any plein air painting last week. But I have been plugging away at my studio painting of St. Cirq La Popie. The images below show my continued progress thus far.
Laying in my lightest passages, I worked on the sky and distant cliffs and ruins first. Next, I started on my rooftops. In this region, I noticed that there were a lot of gray-blue undertones along with the terra cotta-tiled rooftops, so I experimented with laying in a gray base to start. I am not really sure if doing so helped me or hindered me, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
At this point, I need to refine, work on the garden, and bring out my highlights, so this is what I’ll be working on today. This painting is all angles and not much actual landscape, so my progress has been a little slow going at times. Nevertheless, the composition and the concept interest me. I do miss plein air painting, but I have decided I need to make the most of being studio-bound by experimenting, working on new challenges, and working out some new ideas.
Posted in French Landscapes, Garden paintings, Painting Demonstrations, Painting Technique
Tagged art, artist, artwork, dordogne, France, french_paintings, garden_paintings, impressionism, jennifer_young, landscape_painting, oil_painting, paintings_for_sale, painting_demonstrations, painting_technique, southern_france, the_painting_process, work-in-progress