Al Young Studios Newsroom
Tips and techniques Articles


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


Project Commentaries: There Is Help For You (Patience Loader) by Elspeth Young

By Al R. 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


Project Commentaries: The Dawning Of A Brighter Day (Joseph Smith) by Al R. Young

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


Project Commentaries: Blessed, Honored Pioneer (Lucinda Pace) by Elspeth Young

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

Blessed, Honored Pioneer (Lucinda Pace) 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 60 in... Read more »

Tags: 2015, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques


Project Commentaries: The Lord Hath Anointed Me (The Messiah) by Al R. Young

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


Project Commentaries: Other Sheep I Have by Elspeth Young

By Al R. 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


Project Commentaries: Under Whose Wings Thou Art Come To Trust by Al R. Young

By Al R. Young By Al R. Young

This full-length portrait of Ruth the Moabitess, based on Ruth 2:12, will be the 48th oil painting in the Women of the Bible Collection.  It was completed to meet the production schedule for Women of the New Testament by Camille Fronk Olson.  The book, currently in press, is scheduled for release through Deseret Book later in 2014.

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

Support
Panel

Milestones
Research begins - January 2003
Composition begins - August 2012
Brushwork begins - December 2013

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, 2014, Color, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques, Women of the Bible Art Collection


Project Commentaries: What Is Truth? by Al R. Young

By Al R. Young By Al R. Young

This painting of Bernice (Acts 26:28-31) will be the 46th oil painting in the Women of the Bible Collection.  Its completion correlates with the production schedule for Women of the New Testament by Camille Fronk Olson.  The book, currently in press, is scheduled for release through Deseret Book in the latter part of 2014.

Dimensions (width x height)
24 in. x 27.625 in.

Support
Panel

Milestones
Research begins - November 2013
Composition begins - January 2014
Brushwork begins - January 2014

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

Tags: 2014, Inspiration and creativity, Project commentaries, Tips and techniques, Women of the Bible Art Collection


Tips & 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


Project Commentaries: Den Kommende Vinteren (The Coming Of Winter) by Al R. Young

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


Project Commentaries: Den Kommende Våren (The Coming Of Spring) by Al R. Young

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


Project Commentaries: Designing motifs for the hand-painted panels

By Al R. 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


Project Commentaries: How to prevent stencil bleeds

By Al 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...


Tips & Techniques: 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


Tips & 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 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... Read more »

Tags: 2012, Inspiration and creativity, Tips and techniques


Sometimes life is just hard!

By Al R. Young By Elspeth 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


Tips & 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


Tips & 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


Tips & Techniques: The Perfect Black

By Al R. 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


Tips & Techniques: To mix, or not to mix . . .

By Al R. Young By Elspeth 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


Tips & 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


Tips & 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


Tips & Techniques: Paint What You See

By Al R. Young By Elspeth YoungRecently, 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


Tools, Supplies & Operations: Squeezing every penny from a tube of paint

By Al R. Young
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


Tips & Techniques: Turn the problem upside-down

By Al R. 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


Tips & Techniques: The journey into color, part 3

By Al R. Young
One of the most important skills involved in looking is to see objects not in terms of the labels by which we talk about them, but in terms of the puzzle-pieces of color-shapes by which we see them.

The following image is a detail from an oil painting. The detail presents some of the foreground foliage in the painting. To paint foliage like this is to paint a multitude of shapes instead of painting "leaves." (There are, of course, numerous ways of rendering such a subject... Read more »

Tags: 2011, Color, Tips and techniques


Tips & Techniques: The journey into color, part 2

By Al R. Young

In 1981, a good friend of mine (and a fine artist) suggested a beginner's palette by which I might venture into oil painting. My notes from his suggestions list these colors:

Permalba whiteIvory blackRaw umberUltramarine blueYellow ochreBurnt siennaBurnt umberCadmium red light
My notes also indicate that later I was to have added cadmium orange, and to ivory black I might eventually have added blue or burnt umber for organic varieties. I completed the monochrome painting of a landscape, and because he suggested that I might use white, black, and raw umber in the process, I learned that black in oils is not the absence of color; that I was really painting with three colors, and that the only way to keep the painting monochrome was to mix equal portions of black and raw umber before using white to dilute the saturation in order to achieve a particular location on the tonal scale in which the painting was being rendered... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Color, Tips and techniques


Tips & Techniques: The journey into color, part 1

By Al R. Young When I was a boy, I spent hours gazing at desert sunsets that painted the deeping sky with vibrant and ever changing hues. I was spellbound by the symphony of feelings that welled up within me as I watched the way that turquoise gathers along the ribbon of infinity narrowly visible along the horizon. The soft colors there would darken into fantastical hues as the hem of the sun's bright robe disappeared beyond the lip of the world, taking with it the brilliant blue of day and the whiteness of its mountain clouds... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Color, Tips and techniques


Tips & Techniques: Preparing a painting ground

By Al R. Young
Al and Elspeth's favorite support for their paintings is 3/16-inch tempered hardboard also known as Masonite. Sturdy, light, and easy to prepare, it is an archival, durable, and economic choice of support for oil paintings.

At the outset of any painting project, we plan a composition and determine the finished dimensions of the painting-to-be. We then purchase and cut the desired piece of Masonite from a 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheet obtained from a home improvement store.

The panel is then lightly sanded, on one side, to create a rough texture to which the gesso can more readily bond... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Tips and techniques, Tools supplies and operations