Painting lavender

Here is an exerpt of a recent email I received from a student of painting, inquiring about painting lavender:  "I just cannot get the lavender/periwinkle  color  figured out. How did you make it? Do you recall? Thanks again. I've much enjoyed reading your blog and your artist's  tips.

 Cheers,  T. J."

Dear T.J.,

Well, color mixing is a very ingrained habit that happens when I'm "in the zone" so to speak. Typically for lavender what I'll most often use is Ultramarine Blue (deep) mixed with Permanent Rose (W&N) and white. Distant lavender looks cooler, so I might use a bit more blue Cerulean or ultramarine, and less rose. It just takes a lot of experimenting, but after a while color mixing becomes pretty intuitive. -Jennifer *** 

Painting lavender is so much fun, and I feel so fortunate to have traveled to Provence during lavender season. One thing that struck me was the way that lavender changes color temperature. Sometimes it looked like a deep blue jewel, other times a violent purple, and still other times the red tones would come out so that it looked more heather.

Painting of Provence lavender by Jennifer Young "First Light", oil on canvas, 16x20" Price:$1175.00 framed

As with anything in landscape painting, the color temperature of your subject is very much dependant on the light. Morning light appears warm until you compare it to light in the evenings. At high noon, the light is directly overhead, so your subject looks flatter and devoid of shadow areas. To get the best understanding of the effects of light on a subject, it is imperative (for me) to go out in nature and paint what I see. I paint from photos all of the time, but only after I have done a considerable amount of painting, sketching and observing of the subject at hand on location. Photographs are a great resource, but they can lie! It is fine to paint from photographs and study them and the work of others while you are learning. But painting from nature can be the best teacher of all.