Happy Thanksgiving friends! Here is a little start-to-finish video demo of a recently completed studio piece entitled "Snowfall in Ashland". May this painting video of my hometown bring you cheer as you prepare for your own festivities celebrating the blessings of home, family, and friends.
Paintings of France, Italy, and Beyond ©Jennifer E Young
Happy New Year everyone! Yes I know that's a bit late, but we are trying hard to shake off the fun and lazy days of winter break and get back in the routine of waking up early to report to work and school. Since my daughter was home on break, I gave up on the idea that I'd get any real work done and took that time off leading up to Christmas to devote to family. As much as I love painting, I had such a sweet time hanging with my daughter.
Nevertheless, there is a time and a season, and now I'm back to work and it's time for some art! We are settling into winter in Virginia, and it's prime time for hibernating and lot more work in the studio. I have done a lot of small works this past summer and fall, so I'm upping the scale for a while inside. I'm starting out by picking back up with the James River Park theme. This is a 24x30" piece of the section of the park known as Pony Pasture. I painted a small piece at roughly the same location in the fall, though this new view is what I saw when I turned my head to the left.
I like this idea of peeking out at the river through the trees. We will see if what I have in my mind can be successfully executed on canvas.
One of my favorite things about locations along the river banks are the trees. Years of the water's ebb and flow at the river's edge has left many of the tree roots bare. Roots stretch out like tentacles clutching the land, and yet these large trees manage to hang on.
Today before I continue with my painting demo, I thought I would mention the colors I'm using on my palette. For many years I stuck with a fairly limited palette of about 5 or six colors (cad. yellow light, cadmium red, alizarin, ultramarine blue, pthalo green and white.) This was great for me as it really pushed me to learn how to mix color and not become reliant on pre-mixed colors from the tube. It also really helps lighten the load when I am packing my gear to take my studio outside and paint en plein air.
But these days in the studio, my time is more limited. I have a finite amount of hours each week to paint, blog, frame, ship, not to mention cook, eat, sleep, and care for my family. So I have allowed myself the luxury of an expanded palette to speed things along in certain areas. For instance, while I know how to mix secondary colors and some decent earth tones with a limited palette, things can move a bit faster if I have some premixed secondary colors (a.k.a. "convenience colors") in my toolkit. So, for instance, red+yellow= orange., but cadmium orange is still a nice color to have both for it's purity and intensity and its convenience. In any case, whether I am using primaries or secondaries or pre-mixed earth colors, there is still plenty of color-mixing along the way, and I don't ever use any color straight from the tube on my canvas.
Aside from the convenience, I am just enjoying playing with new colors. I've had less time to get out to doplein air painting, and I have missed it. So adding something new to experiment with in the studio keeps things fresh for me. On the palette I'm using right now I've introduced a few earth colors, plus some colors from Gamblin's radiant line. Aside from the colors listed with the asterisk *, I may not keep all of these colors out on my palette every time. But they have made an appearance in the studio often enough over the last few months that they are worth mentioning. All of these colors are Gamblin unless otherwise noted:
- *Titanium white (Gamblin or Winsor Newton)
- *Cadmium Yellow Light
- Cadmium Yellow Deep
- Indian Yellow (Winsor Newton)
- *Cadmium Orange Deep
- *Napthol Red
- Radiant Red
- *Quinacridone Violet
- *Ultramarine Blue
- Severes Blue-sometimes (Rembrandt)
- *Radiant Turquoise
- *Pthalo Green
- Permanent Green Light
- *Payne's Gray
- *Brown Pink
- Gold Ochre (Rembrandt)
Now that I've gotten that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let's get back to painting! I spent my last post addressing the "shadow family" in this scene. In this picture you can see that much of the busy market scene is now at least suggested. But light is needed to delineate the forms and bring the scene alive.
These images are a bit dark as I did not take the time to color correct the in-progress shots. But hopefully you can see that my approach has been to just focus on the general shapes of things without getting too bogged down in details. There are basically three large shapes of light spilling over this painting: the sky, the pavers, and the white awning, with lesser highlights on the figures.
Here is the final stage. I have kept things fairly loose because I wanted to keep the focus on the foreground figure, while still maintaining unity throughout the painting. Notice the difference in the color of the final piece below, taken under better lighting conditions to show the true nature of the colors in the painting.
Thanks for following along on my little painting journey to Venice! This piece is heading to City Art Gallery in Greenville, NC for their 30th Anniversary Celebration September 22nd. 30 years! Wow! Come join us for the party and see this painting (and yours truly) in person! :-)
It's taken me a while to get to blogging about this painting because after a disastrous automatic update to Windows 10 my computer died. It has actually been grinding to a halt for a while but it finally kicked the bucket for good last week and I have spent the past however many days trying to relocate my data and reinstall my applications. I am still operating on the bare minimum but at least I can blog again! I won't go on about it but just imagine to appropriate amount of ranting and hair-pulling and insert it here. Aaany-hoo, back to art!
I thought I'd post a little step-by-step demo of this piece because I actually had the forethought to take some progressive shots along the way. This one had a lot of figures and architecture in it, both of which might seem a bit overwhelming at first. But my reference photo also had a really nice value pattern, so by focusing on that first it made my job a lot easier. Here is the composition under way, put to canvas in monochrome with a brush and Gamsol:
Next, I want to think in terms of light and shadow by separating out which parts of the painting are in the light (the light family) from which parts are in shadow ( the shadow family). I will start with the shadow family first. I learned this terminology from Kevin Macpherson, one of my teachers and a phenomenal painter. Phrasing it this way helps me to organize my thoughts and approach, beyond just saying "lights and darks". It's so helpful to see it this way because in actuality some things in shadow are quite light, though they are never lighter than what's in the light family.
I spend a lot of time working in the shadow family because so much of the strength of the painting is here. Only then do I start working in the light.
More stages next time. I hope you'll tune in as I work on lighting this bad boy up!
I completed this painting (or so I thought) a short time before we left for our annual summer trek to the beach. I really liked it, for the most part. And having considered it finished, I stuck it up on my studio wall before our trip. After our return though, I started looking at it with fresh eyes. Some things that tugged on me before were now really starting to become more bothersome. But I decided to let it marinate a while longer as I was distracted with other projects.
Finally, I decided that while I liked the overall mood in this piece, I did not like the little closed umbrella to the left of my grouping of sunbathers. It kept pulling my eye away from where I wanted to go, and it was sort of an ambiguous object sitting there. Still I wanted something near that spot that would perhaps pull the painting together a little better. So I began flipping through my trip photos for some ideas and inspiration, and came across a snap of a little boy digging intently in the sand. I sketched it out quickly in a nearby notebook and set to work.
There wasn't a lot of built up texture where the umbrella was, so I only had to scrape it down just a little bit with a razor. Then I proceeded with a little "oiling out" (in this case with just a little gambol and solvent free fluid) to help the new paint layer adhere to the older but still very fresh under layer. Here is the revised painting with the little boy. I also brightened the sky a bit more as it was feeling a bit intense and heavy.
Here's a detail of the figures:
I don't know about you, but I like this much better, and I find it finally worthy of celebrating with a frame and a signature. :)