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Al Young Studios Newsroom
Tips and techniques Articles


Heaven's help is the indispensable thing

By Elspeth C. Young This handmade, original oil painting was created by the artist in the studios at Ben Haven.

milestones
Painting completed — 2021 September

equipment created or modified for this project
None

dimensions (unframed width x height)
48 in. x 65 in.

support
Panel

costumes, miniatures, and props created for this project
None

methodology
This section presents only one or two items that may be of interest to professional artists, amateurs, and others interested in the work of the Studios... Read more »

Tags: 3.64.0505.000, 2021, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques


An example of stained glass plating

By Ashton R. Young This handmade, original work of stained glass was created by the artist in the studios at Ben Haven.  It was created for an exhibit conducted by the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts (Salt Lake City) and sponsored by the Utah Department of Cultural and Community Engagement.  Thirty Utah-based artists were selected to participate.
milestones
Proposal accepted for the invitational exhibition — 2021 February
Initial window design completed — 2021 March
Begins cutting glass — 2021 March
Window delivered for exhibit — 2021 June

Based on regular entries in the project journal for this window, creation of the artwork involved approximately 80 sessions... Read more »

Tags: 2021, Project commentaries, Stained glass, Tips and techniques


You do realize you're crazy?

By Al R. Young Rending the Veil was painted by the artist in the studios at Ben Haven.

dimensions (unframed width x height)
48 in. x 84 in.

support
Panel

milestones
Painting completed — 2021 May
Initial imprimatura of sky and land completed — 2020 January
Initial imprimatura of the city completed — 2018 June
Begins the imprimatura — 2015 May
Completes preparation of the support — 2015 May
Work begins on the composition for the painting — 2015 April

Based on regular entries in the project journal for this painting, creation of the artwork involved approximately 165 painting sessions (from composition and panel preparation to completion of brushwork)... Read more »

Tags: 3.00.0306.010, 2021, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques, Tools supplies and operations


Snapshot of an artist's workflow

By Al R. Young

This article is essentially an annotated snapshot of studio workflow (for my painting projects only) over the decade in which I worked on the following three paintings:Trailhead
Rending the Veil
Lunta jo VanoeStudio workflow and space utilization are also discussed in Yachting, inconveniences and studio workflow

There is a great deal more to painting, than painting, as everyone knows who maintains a studio and works on more than one painting project at a time.  These three projects, for example, combined to become a crucible in which my confidence as an artist, capable of starting and completing self-funded projects, was actually threatened... Read more »

Tags: 2021, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques, Tools supplies and operations


Alberti's veil and the Tao of art

By Al R. Young In both eastern and western traditions, one problem is at the intersection of concept and image: How to get the image from the artist to the surface or support on which the image will reside.  At a glance, this may sound like a matter so simple, so obvious, so basic that to focus on it is unnecessary.  But in the eastern tradition, an artist first assimilates the subject.  If, for example, the subject is landscape, the artist immerses him or her self in the subject for the purpose of putting the subject inside one's self; comprehending its essence or essentially becoming the subject... Read more »

Tags: 3.00.0306.010, 3.00.0307.010, 2021, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques, Tools supplies and operations


Many of these trees were my friends!

By Al R. Young Trailhead was painted by the artist in the studios at Ben Haven.

dimensions (unframed width x height)
47 in. x 60 in.

support
Panel

milestones
Painting completed — 2021 July
Wildfire devastates the Nebo area — 2018 September
Begins color work — 2016 July
Monochromatic imprimatura completed — 2015 May
Embarks on another imprimatura, on the same ground, using Burnt Sienna — 2015 January
Scrapes away all imprimatura done to date — 2015 January
Discovers that the imprimatura is not bonding with the ground — 2015 January
Experiments with using pottery shapers (rubber wedges) to paint miniatures — 2014 December
Discovers that insect infestation has destroyed the Nebo trailhead — 2012 June
Visits trailhead for another photo shoot, to obtain high-resolution photos — 2012 June
Embarks on painting composition — 2012 February
Takes referent photograph during visit to Nebo trailhead in the Wasatch Mountains — 2003 October

Based on regular entries in the project journal for this painting, creation of the artwork involved approximately 147 painting sessions (from composition and panel preparation to completion of brushwork)... Read more »

Tags: 3.00.0307.010, 2021, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques, Tools supplies and operations


Nothing is ever really wasted

By Al R. Young This handmade, original oil painting was created by the artist in the studios at Ben Haven.
It is part of The Isles of Rune Project, an ongoing creative endeavor of the Artists of Al Young Studios.  
Read more . . .

milestones
Painting completed — 2021 July
Final composition (no. 14) of background implemented — 2021 May
Starts painting with new toxin-free palette — 2019 May
Brushwork begins — 2018 October
Prepares the support and ground — 2018 July
First composition completed — 2018 March
Dress and cloak completed — 2017 September
Preliminary photo shoot (first of 5) — 2017 July
Research and planning for costumes and shoots — 2017 June

Based on regular entries in the project journal for this painting, creation of the artwork involved approximately 142 painting sessions (from composition and panel preparation to completion of brushwork)... Read more »

Tags: 3.00.0302.010, 2021, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques, Tools supplies and operations


Snow, language and dry paint

By Al R. Young I was in college, majoring in communications, when someone pointed out that some peoples dwelling in or near the northern polar climes have fifty words for snow because they have to "know their snow" in order to survive with it.  Only recently, however, did I learn that in compiling a Scots thesaurus, researchers have actually logged 421 terms applicable to snow.  (I can only speculate that somewhere in the history of Scots a significant part of the population shared my views of snow... Read more »

Tags: 2020, Tips and techniques, Tools supplies and operations


Does painting have to be a matter of life and death?

By Elspeth C. Young By Al R. Young
NOTE:   This article focuses only on oil painting and, more specifically, oil painting as we approach the medium.  While some of the statements, here, might be applied to other media, such as air brushing, acrylics, watercolors, etc., such application is entirely the responsibility of the reader.  We also caution that even applying the following statements to oil painting is something for which the reader is also ultimately and totally responsible... Read more »

Tags: 2020, Tips and techniques, Tools supplies and operations


My problem and I were not alone

By Al R. Young This handmade, original oil painting was created by the artist in the studios at Ben Haven.
It is part of The Isles of Rune Project, an ongoing creative endeavor of the Artists of Al Young Studios.  
Read more . . .

milestones
Composition finalized — 2017 February
Brushwork begins — 2017 February
Painting completed — 2017 September

Based on regular entries in the project journal for this painting, creation of the artwork involved approximately 22 sessions (from composition and panel preparation to completion of brushwork)... Read more »

Tags: A Very Ancient Song, 2019, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques


Ready to pick up where I left off

By Al R. Young Under Whose Wings Thou Art Come to Trust was painted by the artist in the studios at Ben Haven.

dimensions (unframed width x height)
35 3/8 in. x 76 7/16 in.

support
Panel

milestones
Research begins — 2003 January
Composition begins — 2012 August
Brushwork begins — 2013 December
Painting completed — 2014 May

equipment
Creating a painting often involves creating or modifying tools or making improvements to the studio itself... Read more »

Tags: Under Whose Wings Thou Art Come To Trust, 2019, Color, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques, Women of the Bible Art Collection


You can't just paint over it

By Al R. Young This handmade, original oil painting was created by the artist in the studios at Ben Haven.
It is part of The Isles of Rune Project, an ongoing creative endeavor of the Artists of Al Young Studios.  
Read more . . .

milestones
Composition finalized — 2017 March
Brushwork begins — 2017 March
Painting completed — 2018 February

Based on regular entries in the project journal for this painting, creation of the artwork involved approximately 32 sessions (from composition and panel preparation to completion of brushwork)... Read more »

Tags: Lands That Were, 2019, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques


Spellbound by tenebrouse lighting

By Al R. Young What is Truth? was painted by the artist in the studios at Ben Haven.

dimensions (unframed width x height)
24 in. x 27.625 in.

support
Panel

milestones
Research begins — 2013 November
Composition begins — 2014 January
Brushwork begins — 2014 January
Painting completed — 2014 May

methodology
The inspiration for a painting can span many years.  For as long as I can remember, tenebrouse lighting has held me spellbound whether in painting, film, or daily life... Read more »

Tags: What Is Truth, 2019, Inspiration and creativity, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques, Women of the Bible Art Collection


Al and Elspeth speak at 2016 Education Conference

By Al R. Young Participation in the annual Education Conference hosted by Southern Virginia University typically involves speaking in person; however, immunological issues associated with Al’s CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) precluded doing so.  The director for the 2016 Conference authorized Elspeth and Al to participate by means of a recorded presentation.  Links on this page take you to the full presentations produced by the Studios specifically for this year’s Conference.... Read more »

Tags: 2016, Inspiration and creativity, News, Tips and techniques


It's time to sit in the snow again

By Elspeth C. Young There Is Help For You (Patience Loader) was painted by the artist in the studios at BenHaven.

Dimensions (unframed width x height)
40 in. x 58 in.

Support
Panel

Milestones
Research commences - December 2013
Painting commences - March 2014
Painting completed - March 2016

Equipment
Creating a painting often involves creating or modifying tools or making improvements to the studio itself.  This painting project necessitated the following activities in terms of tools, supplies, and operations... Read more »

Tags: There Is Help For You, 2016, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques


A riddle, a mystery and an inigma

By Al R. Young The Dawning Of A Brighter Day (Joseph Smith) was painted by the artist in the studios at BenHaven.

dimensions (unframed width x height)
37.75 in. x 44.5 in.

support
Panel

milestones
Photo shoot for figure – 2009 May
Brushwork begins on original composition – 2011 October
Photo shoot from which fruit tree was taken – 2012 April
New composition formulated and brushwork begins – 2012 May
Painting completed – 2014 December

Based on regular entries in the project journal for this painting, creation of the artwork involved approximately 107 sessions (from composition and panel preparation to completion of brushwork)... Read more »

Tags: The Dawning Of A Brighter Day, 2016, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques


This was a time of joy

By Elspeth C. Young

Blessed, Honored Pioneer (Lucinda Pace) was painted by the artist in the studios at Ben Haven.  The completed painting was acquired by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for use in temples, and the Church also acquired all copy rights pertaining to the artwork.

Dimensions (unframed width x height)
30 in. x 60 in.

Support
Panel

Milestones
Research commences - November 2012
Painting commences - August 2013
Painting completed - November 2014

Equipment
Creating a painting often involves creating or modifying tools or making improvements to the studio itself... Read more »

Tags: 2015, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques


A layered approach to problem solving

By Al R. Young This original artwork is unavailable for purchase or viewing online because it and its copyright are exclusive to temples.

The Lord Hath Anointed Me (The Messiah) was painted by the artist in the studios at BenHaven.  The completed painting was acquired by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for use in temples, and the Church also acquired all copy rights pertaining to the artwork.

Dimensions (unframed width x height)
30 in. x 51 3/4 in... Read more »

Tags: The Windows Of Heaven, 2015, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques


Creating Dürer-like grasses and details

By Elspeth C. Young
Other Sheep I Have by Elspeth Young was completed in 2014 and is the 23rd painting in The Messiah Fine Art Collection.
Dimensions width x height32.25 in. x 47 in.


SupportPanel (prepared as described in Preparing a painting ground


MilestonesResearch begins - 2010 February
Composition begins - 2014 April
Brushwork begins - 2014 May


EquipmentCreating a painting often involves creating or modifying tools or making improvements to the studio itself.

Panel-support Accessory for A-Frame Easel
Clamp-on Brush Holders for Easel Framework


Costume, Props, and MiniaturesCreating a painting can also involve creative projects focused on setting, costume, props, and other features of the composition... Read more »

Tags: Other Sheep I Have, 2014, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques


Color formula shorthand

By Al R. Young When I embarked on oil painting, I spent a lot of time mixing the colors of the rudimentary palette with which a mentor suggested I begin.  And because of ideas that correlate color with wheels, I arranged the colors and my experiments accordingly, as I methodically mixed colors in the abstract and also created tonal scales.

If I used a lot of a particular hue in a particular mixture my record of the formula consisted of a big dot for the part the hue played in the mixture.  Addition of a little bit of a hue was represented by a little dot... Read more »

Tags: 2014, Color, Tips and techniques


Paint the mood, not the mountains

By Al R. Young
By Al R. Young
The commission to paint two scenic focal points for the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley conference center renovation included both the original oil painting and its gilded frame.

Dimensions (width x height)
69.5 in. x 48 in. (unframed)

Support
Panel

Milestones
Research begins - November 2012
Composition begins - January 2013
Brushwork begins - January 2013
Frame completed - May 2013

Equipment
Creating a painting often involves creating or modifying tools or making improvements to the studio itself... Read more »

Tags: Den Kommende Vinteren, 2013, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques


Glazing and the illusion of volume

By Al R. Young By Al R. Young
The commission to paint two scenic focal points for the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley conference center renovation included both the original oil painting and its gilded frame.

Dimensions (width x height)
69.5 in. x 48 in. (unframed)

Support
Panel

Milestones
Research begins - November 2012
Composition begins - January 2013
Brushwork begins - January 2013
Frame completed - May 2013

Equipment
Creating a painting often involves creating or modifying tools or making improvements to the studio itself... Read more »

Tags: Den Kommende Våren, 2013, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques


An ornamental design motif for a world-class conference center

By Elspeth C. Young
For the rosemalling to be executed on the ornamental panels for the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley conference room renovation project, we proposed the following design criteria:
Avoid a visually dense design (i.e., horror vacui).

Create a design that balances boldness, strength, and sinuousness with traditional colors and contours of stylized botanical subjects.

Create botanical motifs from local flora instead of merely using traditional design elements... Read more »

Tags: 2013, Tips and techniques, Tools supplies and operations


How to prevent stencil bleeds

By Ashton R. Young
Preventing paint-bleeds when using a stencil is almost always a problem and there are almost as many recommendations for dealing with it.  The following method suited the parameters of our particular project, which included such considerations as paint viscosity, under-layer absorption, the line quality of the image to be sprayed, the scale of the image, and the time available for completing the work.

The following series of photos shows the main steps in using the stencil and hand-press... Read more »

Tags: 2013, Tips and techniques, Tools supplies and operations


Edition of Inspirations now available as spiral-bound art diary

By Al R. Young This blank-book journal sells for $32 (plus shipping) direct from Al Young Studios.  Printed in full color on heavy paper, the book is bound with black plastic spiral to rest flat when open.

Inspirations features 163 artworks along with 53 commentaries—written by the Artists of Al Young Studios especially for this journal—on such topics as their creative process, the creative environment of the Studios, technical approaches to their artwork, and inspiration from the works of other artists... Read more »

Tags: Untitled, In the Clearing, Anne Girl, Spring Rain, Journey's End, Enchanted Stillness, Bedtime Story, In The High Valley, Mountain Home, And I Will Not Deny The Christ, Sara Crewe, And My Soul Hungered, 3.00.0246.010, The Road To Melek, We...


The window is the view

By Al R. Young One piece of advice I received as a cub artist sounded quite savvy:  "Paint to standard frame sizes.  That way, you won't be out the expense of custom frames."

Savvy or not, the idea never worked for me.  When I compose an image, I do so in terms of the way the visual elements and the image boundaries interact, the objective being that of creating a particular mood, which correlates with the way the eye moves over the image.

I suppose it is possible to start with a fixed size and proportion, but I choose not to be constrained in that manner because the constraint creates a preoccupation... Read more »

Tags: 2012, Inspiration and creativity, Tips and techniques


What am I looking at?

By Al R. Young
Several years ago, a good friend visited the studio and gallery. At one point during our visit, we stood a while in the loft above the studio. Four large tonal landscape paintings, after the style of the Hudson River School, filled three of the walls like picture windows.
My guest looked from painting to painting, and, whether moved by the sheer size of the artworks or influenced by something in the treatment of the subject matter, exclaimed with evident anxiety: "I wish I knew what I was looking at!"

Like so many artists, I thought, but did not say:  "I wish you did, too!"

For the first 40 years or so of my journey as an artist, I worked primarily in pencil and spent a few years on lithographs... Read more »

Tags: In the Clearing, In The High Valley, I Shall Be Whole, 2012, Costume and props, Inspiration and creativity, Tips and techniques


Shake hands with the bear

By Al R. Young

Fifteen years ago, I sat at my drawing table in the studio preparing to draw the last element I had planned as part of an image for a lithograph. The drawing had gone well. Even I was pleased, which isn't always the case when looking at a finished product through tired eyes.
As often happened, a few flecks of wax from the crayon had found their way onto the pristine surface of the limestone, and were homesteading right where I intended to draw some surf lapping over a beach. Because the errant flecks of wax had attached to the fine grain of the stone's surface, they could not simply be blown or brushed away... Read more »

Tags: 2012, Inspiration and creativity, Tips and techniques


Sometimes life is just hard!

By Elspeth C. Young
One of the best gems of creativity and problem-solving advice I have ever received was given to me as I stood at a battered, drip-encrusted easel in a grimy painting studio at Brigham Young University.
My professor at the time hesitated to give demonstrations, and left our canvases alone so that we could develop a style of our own. What little he had done to demonstrate and tutor our tastes I absorbed like a sponge.  He taught us to savor the color variations of Cezanne, to learn from the indirect painting techniques of old masters, and rejoice in the thickly daring impasto of Carl Bloch, while also encouraging us to seek inspiration in the strangest of postmodern pop art... Read more »

Tags: Many Sorrows, 2012, Inspiration and creativity, Tips and techniques


Sketching the poetry of light

By Al R. Young Springtime in the Rockies is an uncertain season that sometimes begins in February and deals out valley snow in June.  This year, a milder than usual winter has frayed into the edges of an early spring, with sun-bright days made just for plein air sketching.

Last week included a lake-side jaunt with the Oquirrh Mountains (appropriately pronounced "ochre," like the pigment) to the north, the hazy spine of the Tintic Mountains perched in the west on the lip of nowhere, and the southern arm of the Wasatch asleep along the margin of the lake... Read more »

Tags: 2012, Tips and techniques


How do you look when you hold a pencil?

By Al R. Young This installment of Studio Windows looks in to the studio windows instead of outward through them, but learning how to see with an artist's eye is still the focus.

In school, where words and numbers were infinitely more important than the making and viewing of artworks, I was taught to hold a pencil in a vise-like grip between the thumb and middle finger; the forefinger being placed on the pencil to steady it.  So strict were these requirements that in the hush draped over our first grade classroom the teacher paced up and down between the wooden tables where we strained and bowed our heads above our work, and struck our hands with a wooden ruler if she spied us holding the pencil incorrectly... Read more »

Tags: 2012, Inspiration and creativity, Tips and techniques


The perfect black

By Elspeth C. Young

For artists, like me, who lean to the Caravaggistic in lighting, the phenomenon of the perfect "black" for a mood-setter within a painting, can be a bit of a pigment puzzler.  While many artists have a favorite black as part of their palette, I purposefully pass by the black section of the paint tube world—perhaps it's the loyal watercolorist in me—but I just don't accept the idea that black is simply #000000—zero color.  In my book, black is as rich and full as any other color, and as deeply reflective as white can be... Read more »

Tags: A Lamp Unto My Feet, 2012, Color, Tips and techniques


To mix, or not to mix . . .

By Elspeth C. Young


I can remember, as a small child, eagerly watching my father get out his palette, paint tubes, medium, and palette knives to carefully mix colors for a day of intense painting.  In fact, one of my earliest memories is watching him mix thick oil paints for a wall mural he painted in my bedroom.  I watched from the perch of a stool--with my elbows practically in the paints--while he mixed and matched and mixed again.  I became so intrigued that my long pigtails dipped right into the colors... Read more »

Tags: 2011, Color, Tips and techniques


Don't stand behind me while I paint

By Al R. Young
One of the unwritten laws of the studio is never to stand behind me when I paint.  I'm always backing up (on a sudden and without looking) to take the long view of what's happening to the image on the easel. For every painting session at the easel, I probably walk a mile in the relatively small space in which I work.
For me, the primary reason for using an easel has relatively little to do with applying paint.  Instead, it has a great deal to do with the need to easily and quickly view the work from different vantage points, in order to more fully see it and refine it accordingly... Read more »

Tags: 2011, Inspiration and creativity, Tips and techniques


An Artist's Eye

By Al R. Young Not long ago, we received the following comment:With your layered or indirect [painting]approach, how do you manage to maintain working from the subject over this time with all the variations of light, weather, seasons, the decay of a still life or busy and expensive models, etc.?  Do you resort to photos?

Factors such as media, individual style, techniques, available tools, and the messages (to borrow a term from communication theory) are major influences in how an artist approaches and completes each work... Read more »

Tags: 2011, Tips and techniques


Paint What You See

By Elspeth C. Young
Recently, a gentleman approached me at the conclusion of an art lecture, and eagerly asked me this singular question: "When you paint faces, do you paint the opposite color of the highlight in the shadow area?"His question startled me.  I'd never really thought about it.  I considered for a moment and then stammered out a reply:  "I suppose I do sometimes," I mused, reflecting on countless times I've added greens, purples, and blues to the reflected light or shadows on a portrait... Read more »

Tags: The Trial Of Faith, 2011, Tips and techniques


Squeezing every penny from a tube of paint

By Al R. Young Separate his and hers toothpaste tubes have helped many a marriage—there's certainly more than one legitimate way to squeeze a tube and individuality should probably reign supreme.  But toothpaste doesn't generally run over two hundred dollars a pop, and something like a really splendiferous cerulean blue can.  So what's the best way to skin the oil-paint-tube cat—probably not by wringing it out in utter frustration, as shown at left, and chucking it out with a guilty promise of doing better next time... Read more »

Tags: 2011, Tips and techniques


Turn the problem upside-down

By Elspeth C. Young


Strange as it may sound (we often surprise Studio visitors with this one!), working on a painting while the panel is turned upside-down, as shown above, can be a marvelous problem-solver during an otherwise difficult painting session.  In the final stages of her painting of Phebe, for instance, Elspeth has spent several painting sessions over the last couple of weeks, with the panel inverted.  This technique enables the artist to "forget" that he or she is painting a face, an eye, a hand, etc... Read more »

Tags: Here Bring Your Wounded Hearts, 2011, Tips and techniques, Women of the Bible Art Collection