Varenna painting complete

Just a quick post to share the final version of the Lake Como painting I wrote about in my last post:

"La Passarella, Varenna" Oil on Linen, 24"x 20" (SOLD) ©Jennifer Young

"La Passarella, Varenna" Oil on Linen, 24"x 20" (SOLD) ©Jennifer Young

This view shows small fishing and leisure boats in front of the arched foot path called "La Passarella"  that winds its way around Varenna.Known  as "the pearl of the lake", Varenna is one of the most beautiful towns on Lake Como. A great place to leisurely wander and get lost!

I also really enjoyed this version of the limited palette I wrote about in my last post. I can see myself using this one again (as soon as I buy more Cad. Red Medium!) 

On the easel -Varenna (Lake Como) W.I.P

Just a quick post to share what's been on my easel of late. It's been so blazing hot this week that I have not found an opportunity to get back outside and have pretty much retreated to the studio to work. I'm still keeping things relatively small for the time being, though 20x24" isn't, for me, exactly tiny:

Lake Como, Italy landscape painting by Jennifer Young

Yet again I thought I'd experiment with another limited palette, using the "big three" primaries of red, yellow blue. In this case the red is Cadmium red medium, the yellow, cad. yellow pale, and my ol' friend ultramarine. The main difference for me is using cad. red medium. I almost never use this red but found some in my bins and thought, why not? At first I felt like I was shooting myself in the foot with this palette on this subject, as it is a bit more muted than when I use my usual gem-like transparent red of alizarin crimson. But having gotten used to it, I am quite liking it. I think I should be finished with this piece in another session or two, which will hopefully be this week, providing I have the studio time.

Little things

My painting (and posting) has been so sporadic lately that there are times when I am tempted to just announce a summer hiatus once and for all. At least this way, (I say to myself) I can engage myself fully in mothering an already active baby (who is soon to be an even more active toddler) and I won't have this anxious, "torn between two worlds" feeling when I can't make it to the easel (or produce anything noteworthy when I do). But the hubby doesn't think this is a good idea, and doubts I'd be happy with not painting at all, if even for a couple of months. He's probably right, but that still leaves me with trying to figure out how to enjoy the time I have in these two seemingly opposing life roles, without the anxiety I sometimes have that I am not doing well enough at either one. So I was taking my baby out for a stroller ride not long ago, and ran into a neighbor, who is also a mother, and happens to be a very fine artist. We have exchanged pleasantries a few times, but this was our first actual introduction and chat. We spent a good deal of time talking about the ups and downs of being both a working artist and a mother . We talked about finding the time and the peace of mind to be fully engaged in both roles, and perhaps most importantly, to enjoy the process along the way. I asked her if she felt that her work had changed as a result of having had a child.

"Oh yes!" she replied, "For quite a while I had to paint a lot smaller. "

This may sound like a punchline, but in fact, it makes a lot of sense. Before the baby, I had become accustomed to painting small in the field and using my studio work to develop my ideas and studies into larger scale works. As a landscape painter, my feeling was, why paint small landscapes inside if I can paint the same small scale from life?

But at present, plein air opportunities have been few and far between, so often it is studio work or no work at all.  While I never really paint HUGE, I have struggled with my studio sessions, as they are both shorter in length and spread farther apart. Often enough I have found myself spending a good deal of a studio session just trying to get the painting opened up enough to start working on it again...just in time to clean up!

So, it makes sense, for the next little while, to try and work on a few small things. They may not all be landscapes, (and who knows? They may not all be oil paintings) but at least I will still be doing something.

So that is my commitment to you, dear reader. I will do something instead of nothing. And furthermore, I will post it here often enough so that you know I am still alive. How's that for an inspirational statement of purpose? Sorry, but this is the best I can do right now. ;-)

Even if it's just a little thing, it will hopefully keep the creative juices flowing, and perhaps make it easier to develop some skills that need brushing up, or to experiment with various designs, compositional choices and different color palettes. In the very least, I will get the satisfaction of having finished something!

"Evening Light, Tuscany" Oil on linen, 6x12" ©Jennifer Young

"Evening Light, Tuscany" Oil on linen, 6x12" ©Jennifer Young

A Painting Completed (at last)

Happy New Year everyone!  Ok, so I know I am a tad behind, but this is my life right now!

"Wildflowers in the Grove" (Tuscany) Oil on Linen, 20x24" (SOLD) ©Jennifer Young

"Wildflowers in the Grove" (Tuscany) Oil on Linen, 20x24" (SOLD) ©Jennifer Young

This is one of a few paintings I had gotten to a point of 80 to 90% complete and then set aside for- like- ever! Even though baby E. is now 6 months old, sleep is still the most precious commodity at our house. Yes, I know--excuses, excuses! But I never knew what a challenge this life-change would be on creative work. So hats off to creative people everywhere who still manage to "do their thing" with a baby at home! (And while I'm at it, any tips?)

I had to finally table the Venice painting I'd been working on in my prior post (before Christmas- ack!) I'll come back to it at some point soon, but progress was really slow and it got to the point where I had looked at it for so long that I couldn't "see" it any more. So for my own mental health, and to feel like I can still complete *something* in my life every now and then, I did the old switcharoo and returned to one of my favorite subjects- Tuscany in springtime. 

Hubby and I discovered this olive grove strewn with wildflowers on a well-remembered drive one day in the beautiful Val d'Orcia. It does my spirit good to meditate on that day of abundant sunshine, especially when we are in the midst of a mostly gray, soggy winter here in Virginia.

A small commission, with just weeks away...

Given how long it has been since I've posted anything new here at all, I am almost embarrassed to write another "yes I'm still here" post. But here goes! The baby is now less than a month away from her due date and I am finally feeling as if I have gotten our household in some kind of order to prepare for her arrival. Unfortunately, now that I'm getting a little respite from the baby books, the shower, the classes, and prepping the nursery, I am, in this final trimester, also feeling my least energetic and creative. In truth, I don't think I was prepared for just how exhausted I'd feel throughout the pregnancy. But now that I'm getting really big, I can't really seem to do any one thing for very long before I start to feel quite uncomfortable. So needless to say, painting has pretty much taken a back seat during most of my pregnancy, and it's hard to say when that will change to any great extent after the baby comes. However, I do have one new little piece to share. It's a small watercolor/pen and ink painting  (8x10" on 11x14" paper) that a client commissioned to commemorate her daughter's upcoming wedding:

"Flavor of Fagiolari" Watercolor and Pen & Ink on Paper, 11x14" (SOLD) ©Jennifer Young

"Flavor of Fagiolari" Watercolor and Pen & Ink on Paper, 11x14" (SOLD) ©Jennifer Young

The scene is of a B&B in the Chianti region, not far from where I myself have traveled a number of times. It's a special place to the betrothed because they met in Italy and stayed at Fagiolari during their travels through Tuscany together.

When I paint from photos, I prefer to work from my own references. I just have a much better feeling for the place if I, myself, have traveled and painted there, and my photos serve as a trigger to call forth those experiences. I also take several different viewpoints of a given scene, plus a number of details, so that I can have as much information as possible when I get to work. So it's always with a bit of reservation when I consider working from a client's photo, which is normally more of a one-off tourist snapshot.

But this commission was actually quite a joy for me. Not only was it great to be doing something in the painting realm again, but the photos provided were excellent. Having also traveled the area fairly extensively myself helped a good deal as well.  Plus I was given much leeway as to how I wanted to interpret them (the photos) and what I wanted to include, rather than being tied to making an exact, literal interpretation(a.k.a. an illustration) of a scene.

What was most important to the client was that I capture the "flavor" of the place (hence the painting's title). Luckily, the client was delighted with the finished piece, and I had a good time getting my hands back in some art-making to boot. I tend to feel somewhat more intimidated by watercolors (as opposed to oils) but given its manageable size and the properties of the medium, I was able to stop and start more easily than I can with oils. It's not without reason to think that maybe I can even attempt a few more before "D-day" (or make that B-day) but we'll see. The one thing I can say about my life this past year is that it is anything but predictable!