As I've noted previously, I've been enjoying digging into subjects for my paintings by working small to large. Several of the recent studio paintings I've done have had their inception in smaller plein air pieces I have painted on site. Through this exercise I have come to appreciate the method of problem solving in the smaller piece. My latest "small" is this Venice piece I completed yesterday. At this point I'm not sure if I will rework this into a larger size. I will sit with it for a while and see what I can see from it with fresh eyes, as I work on other projects.
Paintings of France, Italy, and Beyond ©Jennifer E Young
I completed this painting (or so I thought) a short time before we left for our annual summer trek to the beach. I really liked it, for the most part. And having considered it finished, I stuck it up on my studio wall before our trip. After our return though, I started looking at it with fresh eyes. Some things that tugged on me before were now really starting to become more bothersome. But I decided to let it marinate a while longer as I was distracted with other projects.
Finally, I decided that while I liked the overall mood in this piece, I did not like the little closed umbrella to the left of my grouping of sunbathers. It kept pulling my eye away from where I wanted to go, and it was sort of an ambiguous object sitting there. Still I wanted something near that spot that would perhaps pull the painting together a little better. So I began flipping through my trip photos for some ideas and inspiration, and came across a snap of a little boy digging intently in the sand. I sketched it out quickly in a nearby notebook and set to work.
There wasn't a lot of built up texture where the umbrella was, so I only had to scrape it down just a little bit with a razor. Then I proceeded with a little "oiling out" (in this case with just a little gambol and solvent free fluid) to help the new paint layer adhere to the older but still very fresh under layer. Here is the revised painting with the little boy. I also brightened the sky a bit more as it was feeling a bit intense and heavy.
Here's a detail of the figures:
I don't know about you, but I like this much better, and I find it finally worthy of celebrating with a frame and a signature. :)
Last week I continued my quest to mine some of my favorite plein air paintings for larger studio pieces. The inspiration piece was a little 9x12" Plein air painting I did in the spring down at Maymont Park in Richmond, VA:
I really wanted to keep the same freshness in the larger 24x30" painting, so aside from referencing my photos for some of the branch formations, I used my Plein air piece as my main reference. Here is my setup, with the large and small side by side:
If it appears that I'm using a toned canvas, it is because I am painting on one that was a false start for a painting that turned into a wiper. I will often reuse canvases as long as there is just a thin, non-textured base. Anything with too much of a texture is distracting to me and can sometimes create adhesion issues. There is a good deal of impasto (thick paint) passages on this canvas. Here is a detail in progress:
And finally, here is the completed studio painting:
It is blazing (as in dangerously) hot outside, so as I value my health, I've been having a good time inside reinterpreting my outdoor paintings. 😄 Not every plein air painting I've done calls for expansion. Some of my local pieces are just right as charming vignettes. But this garden piece, painted at a beautiful estate off of River Road, commanded more study.
These are the delphiniums at Redesdale, which I had the great pleasure of painting in very changeable weather this past spring. I started out attempting a more literal translation, but given that the new piece was enlarged, and scaled slightly differently, I felt as if the composition need some alteration. The painting seemed to want more breathing room, so I scraped down much of the sky around the upper right quadrant and pushed the trees on that side further into the distance. Here is the final: