Change is Good (Part II)

In my last post I explained how I go about making changes to a previously completed painting that may need some minor tweaking to improve it. Today’s post deals with more drastic measures. This still life isn’t really that old, but almost since its completion I felt I wanted to do something different to the background. Both the shawl on the left and the angles on the right bothered me, as did the color combinations as they related to the foreground. All of these elements served to distract more than enhance the still life arrangement. 

Still life, version I

Still life, version I

So, after sanding, scraping and oiling out (as described in my previous post) my first thought was to create a very simple dark background, which is a classical approach to still life painting employed by a lot of painters through the ages. I also got rid of the awkward angle in the lower right portion of the table cloth, and carried the horizon line straight across.

Still life, version II

Still life, version II

I actually liked these changes, though without the background distractions it really brought out how evenly divided the painting was by the bottle of forsythias, making for not-so-interesting negative space on either side, only accentuated by the plain dark ground. The dark color also really brought out the remaining texture underneath, even when the paint layer was built up. So, I decided to play with it a bit, knowing I could always come back to the simple dark background if I really wanted to.

“Forsythia and Delft Blue”, Oil on linen, 20x24" ©Jennifer E Young (click the image for details)

“Forsythia and Delft Blue”, Oil on linen, 20x24" ©Jennifer E Young (click the image for details)

What I arrived upon felt to me to be both whimsical and old world at once. It almost reminds me of an antique screen or stage set of a decorative painted sky. The “clouds” served to break up the background space, and the softer, happier palette made me feel happier too. It can be a little scary to make these kind of changes but I’ve come around to the idea that  if the painting is nagging on me, the benefit of change can outweigh the risk. Have I ever “ruined” a painting doing this? Yes indeed. Occasionally my over-zealous scraping can poke a hole straight through the painting. Other times my changes may fail to satisfy me and I end up scrapping the whole thing entirely. But if I’m not satisfied with the painting as it is, it’s probably worth risking it. In any case, if I’m lucky, I have miles of canvas to go before I’m done. 

On Color and Social Media, Obsession and Restraint

Is it possible to be addicted to a paint color? I'm not sure that's a good thing, as I don't like the feeling of being overly-dependent on anything.  So I am really trying to temper my use, while at the same time exploiting the values of having it around. This also describes my experience with Social Media, and particularly with Facebook. I imagine Facebook still has some value to the small business, but on a personal level, it can prove a real time-waster, not to mention maddening, irritating, and downright invasive. On a personal level it's also a source of inspiration and community and sharing, which is why I joined up in the first place. But it is really hard in this case to exploit the positives while also avoiding the darker temptations and traps, so I am limiting myself overall.

"Afternoon Breeze, Rockland Breakwater", Oil on linen, 20x24"

"Afternoon Breeze, Rockland Breakwater", Oil on linen, 20x24"

For a long time I was resistant to jumping on the Facebook bandwagon. And it could be argued that when I finally did sign on, I may have come in at the tail end of an era where the platform provided a real benefit to small businesses for little to no investment other than a bit of time. As time went on, though, Instagram and Facebook began to replace blogging for me. After all, it was faster and seemed likely to reach many more people quicker than I could through blog subscribers alone. 

"Forsythia and Blue Delft", Oil on linen, 20x24"

"Forsythia and Blue Delft", Oil on linen, 20x24"

That's still an argument that can be made, but aside from the fact that Facebook is very much in the headlines these days, (and for reasons that are not all that flattering to the company) it seems harder and harder to find the same kind of reach that one could find in the good old days. I guess that's by design, in order to tempt users to buy ads. That's fine. It's a business model, and business is business I suppose.

But the price to be paid goes beyond money. It's the price of time, and yes, privacy. Say what you will about the fact that "nothing is private online." I don't argue with that or hold any illusions. I have never taken the silly quizzes or posted anything deeply personal that I haven't minded sharing. I understand that all of my info that I share is "out there". What bothers me is that my privacy decisions affect the privacy of my friends and vice-versa. Not only that but friends of friends. And not only them, but it turns out Facebook will even track the internet habits of people who never signed up for the service at all. That bothers me.  Facebook argues that anyone can go in and lock down third party apps and ultimately control a lot of what is shared. I have gone in and done that as much as I am capable of understanding how to do it. The problem is that in doing so, it renders the ease of sharing posts across platforms nearly impossible without spending an excessive amount of time on it.

Aside from all of that, I've found that my over-reliance on an outside platform to promote my work has resulted in the neglect of my self-hosted blog, and to a lesser extent, my website and even my studio time. I'm so incredibly short on time these days, and, let's face it, even peeking at your news feed or groups makes Facebook  a real time-suck.

Truth be told, I'm not sure how many people even read blogs any more, but I feel they still hold value, and think it would be a good idea to give blogging another shot. My hope is that people who are truly interested in my work will come find me here on my own domain first, with social and search serving as feeders. That seems to be the way it should be, but it's not the way it's been. 

"Winter Light at Stony Run Trail", Oil on linen, 20x24" 

"Winter Light at Stony Run Trail", Oil on linen, 20x24" 

I'm still sharing my work on social media (my preference these days is Instagram) but I'm going to step back from it a bit and give the old blog a little more love. As for the other obsession I mentioned, I have left a few clues for you in this post. These are a few of my recent paintings that I've shared on social media that I had neglected to blog about. The commonality among these pieces is the predominance of that certain color. Any guesses as to what it might be? Let me know in the comments and I'll 'fess up about it in my next post. 

New auctions listed; sale ends December 10th!

I'd like to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who has bid on my online auctions! If you haven't checked them out in a few days, I have added several more original paintings to my auction site, with subjects ranging from beach to farm to garden. I plan to wrap up this online sale in a couple of weeks, so if you have been planning to bid on one of these paintings now is the time. Here's what's currently on the auction block:

Lemons and a Springtime Shawl

"Lemons With a Springtime Shawl", Oil on linen, 24x24" ©Jennifer E Young

"Lemons With a Springtime Shawl", Oil on linen, 24x24" ©Jennifer E Young

It's been a while since I painted a still life, and this one almost didn't make it. In fact, it sat around in my studio for about a month 3/4 of the way complete and my plan was actually to just paint over it or throw it through the window, whichever came first. What happened was my little kitten tore down my still life setup not one, not two, but THREE times. You might think I would find some way of preventing this, but at the moment I am painting in a small room in the house that also happens to have our only cat door that leads out to the screened porch (and litter box). The last time the take-down happened I was so disgusted I just left the whole setup on the floor for a while in a sorry heap, took the painting off the easel and turned it to the wall, where it sat in infamy for about a month.

!I think it was the little  blue pom-poms on the shawl. They were just too tantalizing dangling over the edge of the bureau like that, and I guess no self-respecting kitten could resist. Any way, it was a true miracle that the rice bowl and ginger jar didn't smash into a million pieces, but they survived somehow. And so did my painting! Yesterday I put the canvas back up on the easel with the thought that I'd at least rescue the cost of the linen canvas and paint over top of it. But as I took another look I thought,  well maybe I should at least see if I can open the surface back up and finish the thing. If I hate it I can always scrape it down and paint over top, right?  Well I did finish it (with the kitten in exile). And what do you know? I'm glad I did. 

P.S. I've added a few detail shots of this painting on it's product page. Click on the painting above to view.

Primrose and Irises

Here's a little celebration of the color violet :-) . I scaled up a bit for this still life. It's still not that big, but given I'm not yet painting these florals at a very fast clip, I felt the difference and it took me a little while to bring it to a conclusion.

"Primrose and Irises" Oil on Canvas, 20x16"  © Jennifer E Young

"Primrose and Irises" Oil on Canvas, 20x16" © Jennifer E Young

I am learning to tackle the cut flowers first. Those babies shift and turn and then have the nerve to shrivel up on you long before you're ready to see them go! The irises are now things of the past, but the potted primrose is still going strong.