In a short time, I will begin listing some new online holiday art auctions, so I thought I would give a heads-up to those of you who are interested in purchasing my art at an excellent price just in time for the season of giving. :-) These will be mostly plein air studies in small sizes, ready for you to frame. If this interests you head on over to my auction site and register in advance so you will be all ready to place your bid when the auctions first becomes available. I should be up and running in just another week or so, so don't miss out!
Paintings of France, Italy, and Beyond ©Jennifer E Young
What a fall it has been so far. I thought once school started things would normalize (ha!) but the schedule continues it's craziness. Most days lately I have just enough time (and energy) to paint, and maybe quickly post here and there on social media. Last week was major at my husband's job, and he had to pull some of all-nighters out of town while I played the single parent at home.
Unfortunately this blog suffers during times like these, and my rhythm tends to stumble. I don't feel comfortable venturing too far away from my daughter's school when my husband is also far away, so I opt for studio painting instead of painting in the field. The set-up and cleanup is just quicker and more efficient when I need to head for the pickup line at the end of the school day, or should Iget a call from the school nurse or whatever. When the weather is gorgeous and fleeting as it has been, this sometimes makes me feel a little sad not to go out to some beautiful countryside location and paint outdoors.
On the up side, the studio allows me to experiment and try new things. Not only can I paint larger (yay!) but I can spend more time designing and composing. I can also decide how loyal I want to be to the image I'm working from, or whether I want to push that edge and see if I can manipulate the color more to create a certain color harmony or mood. So yeah, I was definitely going for a mood with this piece, and I have to admit I had a good time doing it!
Due to the cloud cover and my auto settings on my camera, my photo references were somewhat washed out in terms of color. So, much of the color is inspired by my memory and another plein air painting I did in the summer:
The image above has more warmth to it due to the time of day and the location of the sun so close to the horizon, but I loved the beautiful soft pastel colors in the sky and water and I felt that something similar would work well for the hazier light of a cloudy early evening, with just a tinge of the sunlight warming up the clouds as touches of blue sky break through.
During our beach trips to Kill Devil Hills, I often walk down toward Kitty Hawk to the Avalon Pier and enjoy the people watching as I go. I especially love to see the kids playing by the shore, so in-the-moment and involved in their play. I know that feeling all too well. It's the way I feel when I'm painting down there, though my time always seems to end all too soon.
Thought I'd do a little experimenting with this fun little 5x6" study in gouache.
Here I'm just trying to get an idea about my lights and shadows and the basic shapes, so I've not much detail. For this composition I experimented with using a compositional grid that we studied during Kevin Macpherson's workshop (you can probably make out some of it in pencil beneath the gouache. I mentioned it briefly in my last post, but basically this is a method to achieve an informal subdivision of space, as discussed in Andrew Loomis' book called Creative Illustration:
After I learned more about this "grid thing", I realized that I had often been using this kind of subdivision intuitively. But it is good to have a tool handy to be more deliberate about it when one wants to, or if you are dealing with a complicated subject and are trying to decide what to leave in, what to edit out, and how to arrange a painting for the most pleasing effects.
It's been a while since I have worked with gouache and had forgotten that the colors shift a bit when they dry. Nevertheless I had a good time and really look forward to working with them again.
I once had a painting of the Outer Banks that I loved; but for whatever reason didn't sell. It was in my inventory for a number of years, so instead of confining it to the bins any longer, I decided to embrace the fact that I still had possession of it. In fact, I decorated my bedroom around it, painting the walls a beautiful soft gray color that perfectly picked up some of the muted tones in the painting. Unbelievably, two weeks after I had my beautiful "new bedroom" complete, I received a call from a collector asking if it was still available. Yes, I sold it. I am trying to run a business, after all. I do have one or two pieces that I am trying to keep for myself, but for the most part, I'm just not one to turn down sales. So what does this have to do with the painting below? No, it's not the "one that got away" (you can see that one here). This piece is one of a few studies I'm working on in preparation fora large new painting I intend to hang (at least for a little while) in my now repainted bedroom. Well, I had a nice big gallery wrapped 30x40" canvas, and a nice blank wall, so I figured, why not?
This study is based on two different plein air paintings I did on Hatteras Island on recent family vacations. I am largely basing my composition on a piece called "Hatteras Island Dunes II". But because that painting was 8x10" (a 4:5 ratio), I have to make a few compositional changes to format the new piece to a 30x40" gallery wrapped canvas (3:4 ratio).
As you can see in this new composition, I have changed the direction of the sandy path that leads to the beach and rearranged some shrubs somewhat. I also felt like I wanted a bit more sky showing than in the plein air, so I have lowered the horizon a touch to allow for that. For the sky I am loosely referencing both the above mentioned plein air, as well as another plein air piece from last summer, which you can see here.
I don't seem to have any actual photos of these scenes to reference, so my sole references are my plein air paintings. This is a bit different for me as I usually use both a photo source and my painting when I work from plein air to studio. So it will be interesting to see if I can make this fly! My plan is to try at least one more study before launching into the big canvas, but this is a good start.
I'm baaaack. And I'm kicking off my return to blogging with a new Varenna study. I actually hesitate to call this a study, given the amount of time it took. I guess a month away from painting has left me feeling a litle rusty and slow! In any case, this painting will serve as a preliminary study for a larger piece.
We have had rounds of winter sickness followed by school closings due to snow, so with my foray back into painting being thwarted quite a bit, I had the thought to develop a number of small scale studies of some larger painting ideas that I've been wanting to tackle. I'll be painting some of these to scale up to my larger sizes. For example this 6x9" piece will scale up to 24x36".
I've painted various views of this harbor a few times now, which you can see here, here, and here. I guess you can tell I am enamored with this particular view of this lovely Italian lake town! This composition emphasizes the strong horizontal of the walled town jutting out onto the lake, contrasted by the verticals of the buildings and tall cypresses.
While I almost always sketch out my composition on paper before I tackle a canvas, I usually leave the painted study for when I am out in the field painting from life. In fact, I have painted lots of studies and lots of larger scale studio pieces and quite a bit in between. Not all small paintings warrant a big statement, but I haven't been all that great about developing my viable studies into larger, more fleshed out studio concepts. My schedule has been so sporadic for such a long time now, and with not much chance of an end in sight, I really feel like I need to have a more methodical approach to my work habits. I am hoping that by tightening up my studio practices a bit, I might find more equilibrium when I do get a chance to enter the studio, and I will waste less time and feel less at a loss about what I am going to tackle next.
Well, nothing informs like experience, and since these small ones can presumably be completed in a fraction of the time, (ahem!) I thought it was worthwhile to have a go at a few of them, done, specifically with larger paintings in mind. I will also mine some of my other small works, in particular the plein air pieces I've done, as I think a number of them have potential for further development. I have worked from a number of them here and there, but I think there is more potential (especially in my James River series) and it could be something fun to do during these cold winter months when I'm not getting outside.