Bellagio From Above--Redux

The painting below was completed a while ago and has been sitting in my office since the move to our new home. So  I have had a lot of  opportunity to look at it lately with new eyes:

Version 1

Version 1

 While I liked the painting before, I felt it could be improved and opened up a bit more to give this view a little more breathing room. So I looked back through my image archives from my trip to the Italian lakes and found several different views from this approximate vantage point. I then followed my own guidance and decided to play around with the composition in Photoshop to see "what would happen if..." I really wanted to capture more of the beauty of the lush blues in the lake and the mountains beyond:

"Bellagio From Above" Oil on linen, 20x16" ©Jennifer E Young

"Bellagio From Above" Oil on linen, 20x16" ©Jennifer E Young

Of course, one change lead to another and my minor edits became quite a re-working. I oiled out the areas I wanted to repaint, and then set to task. This doesn't always work for me, as sometimes the paint layers have too much " skin' or texture, but this time around I guess the paint was more evenly applied.  I really like the way this turned out! It is much more aligned with the concept I had from the start- only now a little better executed.

Bellagio Promenade

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been working on a large(ish) painting of the Bellagio promenade that leads to the Villa Melzi. It took me a little longer to bring this painting to a conclusion and, because I painted at night, my progress shots were too bad to post. So what I am sharing today is the final piece:

"Bellagio Promenade" Oil on Linen, 24x30"  Jennifer E Young

"Bellagio Promenade" Oil on Linen, 24x30" Jennifer E Young

 Because I had to work on this over a succession of days, I worked pretty lean until the last couple of sessions. In the end though, this bad boy has a lot of paint! Of all of the places I have visited so far in Italy, Lake Como in general, and Bellagio in particular, hovers near the top of my list for achieving that dazzling combination of natural and man-made beauty. The trifecta of pre-Alpine mountains, deep blue waters and classic Italian architecture dripping with flowers is pretty hard to beat.

New Lake Como painting in progress

School's out this week due to snow, so my painting time is catch as catch can. Nevertheless, we have been conspiring with other desperate parents to arrange play dates here and there, which allows a little painting and blogging time. So I thought I'd share the Bellagio painting I have my easel this week. This is a promenade on the outskirts of bella Bellagio, leading to the stunning grounds of the Villa Melzi.  This view however, looks back towards the town. Apologies in advance for the poor quality photos and the cast shadow of part of my easel on the painting. I don't have a lot of time to photo edit anything but the final these days, so I hope you will bear with me. I start in the usual fashion, with a loose sketch of my composition in Burnt Sienna:

Lake Como painting demo by Jennifer Young
Lake Como painting demo by Jennifer Young

Next I lay in the shadow family and darkest notes.

Lake Como painting demo by Jennifer Young
Lake Como painting demo by Jennifer Young

At this point I'm laying in some general blocks of color. Still no highlights yet...

Lake Como painting demo by Jennifer Young
Lake Como painting demo by Jennifer Young

And here's my starting point this morning:

Lake Como painting demo by Jennifer Young
Lake Como painting demo by Jennifer Young

Next I will continue blocking in, including the water and distant village. I'm still working up the nerve to paint outside while there's snow on the ground, but we will see. Not much of a fan of the cold, but that snow sure is pretty.

Pescallo cafe complete

We have had a bout of sickness at our house (first me, then my daughter) but I finally had a chance to get back to my Pescallo painting over the holiday weekend. Let's wrap this up! Picking up from my last installment, I am ready to paint in the flowers. Bougainvillea spills over the arbor with mixtures of alizarin crimson, permanent rose and a touch of cadmium red to warm things up. Normally I would block those colors in sooner but I was still trying to decide about the placement of that arbor structure and reds are such high staining colors that I didn't want to put them in until I had the composition pretty well established. Now I guess I am committed! ;)

alfrescoinpescallowip1_jenniferyoung

Geraniums in shades of red fill out the planters using the same colors as the bougainvillea (but in much different ratios).  I also flesh out the columns on the terrace and I am nearly done with the pier.

Now it's time to move down to finish the foreground water and reflections. There is a lot of movement in this water, and with much of this water in semi-shadow, reflections are subtle and broken by waves rather than the strong, mirror-like reflections seen in still water. For the darkest shades I mix Ultramarine and Gold Ochre, warmed or cooled by touches of Cadmium Orange or Sevres blue as the situation allows. Water highlights are deeper shades of the sky color.

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My finale is to include the rest of my vertical lines- the mast on the boat and the railing along the pier. These verticals act as a strong counter-balance to the horizontals of the mountains, boat and pier. I think the railing also serves to further push the background more firmly in the distance.

"Alfresco in Pescallo" Oil on Linen, 24x30" ©Jennifer Young

"Alfresco in Pescallo" Oil on Linen, 24x30" ©Jennifer Young

This piece was a challenge to me, largely because of all of the interruptions I had, which caused the painting to set up quite a bit more in between sessions. I much prefer painting wet-into-wet, to avoid the extra work of opening the painting back up and scraping the dry paint down off of my palette. But sometimes it just can't be helped. In any event, I hope you like the final piece!

No babysitting this week, so there will be lots of trips to playgrounds and possibly the zoo, and I likely won't have much in the way of new work to post until after my daughter is back in preschool on the 9th.

Moving forward

Before I could really tackle the foreground on my Pescallo painting-in-progress, I needed to establish the background water. It shimmers with a pale sparkling light in the distance, the color becoming deeper and more varied in contrast as it moves in waves toward the viewer.

pescallopaintingwip_jenniferyoung

Lest I got too caught up in the romance of Italy or the gentle waves of Lake Como, my husband brings me back to reality with a screeching halt and a critique of my painting. His opinion is to flip the direction of the boat so that it leads into the painting rather than out. I have to agree with him here, so being the always obedient wife (ha ha) I do as I'm told.

Next, I really need to address what is happening on the pier so that I can paint the reflections in the foreground water. I paint the tires that hang along the pier and serve as a rustic contrast to the elegant beauty of the backdrop. This epitomizes Pescallo to me; it is rustic but beautiful, quaint but elegant, sleepy but exciting, all at the same time. The tires are in higher contrast on the sunny side and in low contrast in the shadows.

Black is not black and white is never white. By this I mean that I don't use a tube black to paint black-colored objects, or a straight out of the tube white for most white-colored objects. This would create very flat, dead color. Instead, I mix my "blacks" with my darkest translucent colors on my palette, ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson, and just the tiniest bit of cad. orange or yellow to neutralize some of that purple undertone.

Flowers and flowering vines grow out of every crack and cranny around these parts, and I paint those in delicately so as not to overpower. The showy flowers will be the geraniums and bougainvillea to come.

School is back in session, which means that our babysitter has become a lot less available now that she's returned to college classes. It also means I will have less time to paint over the next two weeks until my daughter returns to preschool. I didn't get the time to paint outside last week, but my goal is to finish this studio piece with one more session tomorrow, so that I can still fit in a plein air session by week's end. I'm close...wish me luck!