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
Doing the mom/artist thing is a constant juggling act. For that matter, doing the mom/anything thing a juggling act! I love painting the early morning light, but so many mornings, despite my best intentions, I cannot get out of the door to paint on locations as early as I would like. It seems silly, but this can actually be a source of considerable anxiety for me. But, as with so many other lessons that parenting teaches me, I have had to learn to make peace with what is, and perhaps even embrace it.
This painting occurred on such a morning. With a late start I decided to see if I could find something of interest to paint in my neighborhood. It's actually not that hard in Ashland, as it's a small railroad town with beautiful historic houses and lots of charm.
If I'm not mistaken, this bike has been on this corner since the fall, in anticipation of the UCI Road World Championships that whizzed through our locality in September. In Ashland, decorated bikes were set up everywhere. Even after the races, many of the bikes have remained, their decorations changing according to the season. I have been eyeing this corner for a while now, enjoying the charm of it. When the daffodils popped up, that sealed the deal for me.
Incidentally, you never know what can happen when you stand on a street corner in a silly hat, no makeup, and sweatpants. You just might encounter a photographer who works for the local paper!
What a difference a week makes. Last week the earth was still pretty brown and bare in our neck of the woods, but this week heralded in some lovely warm springlike weather. And with that came the flowers. Cherry blossoms and spring blooming magnolias seemed to open up over night, along with the daffodils and forsythia. I always feel such a great sense of hope and renewal in the springtime.
Tuesday is one of my two "long days" that I have to work, so I readied myself Monday night for my plein air outing. I decided that since this was my first plein air painting in a while, I should kick off with a known quantity. So I paid a visit to Maymont Park. This would prevent me from wasting time driving around looking for the perfect spot, as I had visited the week prior with my daughter and knew exactly where I wanted to set up.
Just one week earlier, I had brought my daughter to this beautiful park, and at the blooms were still pretty new. I was hoping against hope they would endure, and luckily I wasn't disappointed. Here's a shot of my work setting for the morning. Not a bad way to punch the time card, eh?
I've had a piece of Plexiglas cut to fit in the palette area. The brush holder is an envelope style with a little loop on the top, allowing me to loop it over the handle of my tripod and tuck into the back of the palette. The little jars are holding my oil and solvent free medium. You can't really see it in this picture, but those two clips on the left wing of the palette hold a mesh basket that I picked up in the $1 - $3 bin at Target. It has pockets around the perimeter suitable for holding the tubes of paint I reach for most often. I prefer this basket over a plastic bag for my dirty paper towels because it stays open. Also, it doesn't blow around in the wind.
I've only had this easel since the fall and it's already smeared with paint. I'm a slob; it's a problem. In any event, I look forward to smearing it up even more this spring!
This has been the strangest winter. One week we have blizzards and the next tornadoes. Given all of this chaos it seems a very good idea to just cozy up in a warm studio and work out some ideas on some larger canvases. Granted, I'm still not painting on an enormous scale, but this 24x36" is the largest I've done in a while.
I kept the composition fairly simple. I wanted to see what I could do with brushwork and color to create the drama that I felt from the interplay of the sky and the dancing light on the water. This painting unfolded over a number of sessions and the paint is quite thick. I am currently searching for a way to be more expressive and less literal in my work. It is so, so much easier said than done! I am constantly fighting with my inner nature to control, to spell things out. My heart reaches for more expression, even abstraction; but my head still clings to realism. Somewhere in that conceptual arc lies my voice. I've been feeling around for it, and grazed against it a few times, but I still don't quite have it in my grasp. Nevertheless I did enjoy this painting. It's different than what I imagined it would be, but not in a bad way. And it's already given me some ideas about how I want to approach the next one. Onward ho!
Though I've been working on this painting for the past week, today seemed a good day to post about it. Outside it is a cold, slushy mess here in Ashland VA. It's a good day to sit by the fire sipping tea and reading art books--unless, of course, you happen to live with a five year old. Then it's all snow angels, snow men, and snowball fights, until finally thawing out with hot cocoa. But there is something pretty magical about seeing the snowfall through the eyes of a child, and even a mere dusting must be thoroughly explored and exploited.
This painting was inspired by our very first snowfall in Ashland. My niece happened to be here visiting and she and my little daughter created some nice interest for the wintry setting I'm featuring here, which is located in the park that sits just behind our house.
I had a beast of a time photographing this painting for accurate color, and I didn't bother to do any color correction on the sequence of progress shots above. The colors are pretty accurate in the final shot of the painting below, however. It was a really fun and different painting for me, and I enjoyed all of the soft edges and the subtle color palette employed to create the mood.