Dimensions (unframed width x height) 30 in. x 60 in.
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. This painting project necessitated the following activities in terms of tools, supplies, and operations.
Costumes, miniatures, and props Sometimes these items must be created at the Studios, sometimes they are purchased for the project, and sometimes items created or purchased for other projects are re-used or modified. This section does not list every costume element, miniature, or prop that may have been involved in the project. Instead, we include items whose story might prove interesting or useful.
Elspeth created the following costume elements for this painting, in addition to the items already included in the Studios' costume storage:
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.
These excerpts from Elspeth's Painting Diary during the creation of this painting provide a glimpse of the scale of the project, not only in terms of time, but concentration and emotional stamina:
28 December 2012 In my research, I have wept over pioneer accounts of sacrifice, challenge, and miracles of hope. I want to celebrate the hope and tender mercies experienced by these noble souls, rather than merely cataloging their sufferings . . . I want to express in painting what will help those in our day, to pick up their own burdens, and journey to Zion with a song in their hearts. Even amidst death, sorrow, starvation, and sickness, John Jacques wrote of his journey, This was a time of joy.
4 July 2014 Lucinda Pace and her little one are materializing on a long (30 x 60 inch) vertical painting panel. I have used the sky and distant trees outside my north studio window as a continual inspiration, and soon I can call the figures forth out of the atmosphere. It promises to be an interwoven painting nightmare, but where is the delight in ease?
12 August 2014 The road to Payson as it were, has consumed most of July. . . . It took me five weeks of steady work just to establish the interwoven limbs and costuming, faces, and fingers of the two figures—to say nothing of the little one's charming marsupial-esque foot. An antique gown and antique linens are my in-studio inspiration for the child's under-frock (plus a small white heirloom dress made for me when I was Hannah's age by a family friend) and Lucy's apron. Lucy's dress is multi-inspired (all historical) and my own color recipe of fawn-brown.
16 September 2014 I have been absolutely nothing but sunflowers, sunflowers, sunflowers for about six weeks. I collect them on walks throughout the valley and bring them back to my studio to paint from life. Once they fade, I'm back out along trails and in neighborhoods or foothills to collect more. I de-bug them as much as possible and put them in jars, easy to turn on my window-sill so that I can paint every angle. My left eye and side of my face ache from all the squinting I'm doing with my left eye in order to paint light and shadow from life most effectively.
24 September 2014 I painted today in our crisp, sunny, plein air studio just east of Dad's indoor studio. The models for the painting, Natalie and little Hannah; Natalie's parents, and two other children, came for an outdoor unveiling.
I set a record Monday (the 22nd): I painted for twelve hours—only taking two, one-hour breaks during the whole day. Every limb was sore and every creative muscle ached, but I made it! Finally all skin tones were polished; all hair wisps were artfully in place; every blade of grass and patch of dirt was refined; every fold of fabric was delineated; every color scheme balanced. I even added a decorative border to Lucy's apron edge, based on a motif in my great-grandmother's hand-embroidered linens.
Little one's dress skirts needed complete last-minute overhaul: all the painted textures were wrong and dappled light from the tree missing. So I used the under-layers I had already painted for color and texture-foundation, and repainted the whole costume from photographs I took of Dad holding the costume piece outside in the right dappled sunshine. I then painted every color plane, every fold, every intricate tuck, and under-apron reflection and shadow.
Nobody's skin matched itself until late in the painting day. Everyone had a yellow-ish arm, a red-ish hand, a purple-ish foot, and a ruddy cheek. What a mess! But again, I painstakingly finished the whole, one brushstroke, and blend at a time.
When Natalie's daughter, Kaitlyn, asked if I had painted them in a different background from the one where I originally photographed the models, I told her the secret of my use of many, many locations from which to paint a complete background. It fascinated Kaitlyn so much that I thought I'd take note of it here:
Sky (outside my studio window) Trees (Murdock Trail in Pleasant Grove, Utah) Distant sunflowers (Edgemont area, Provo, Utah) Mid-ground grains (Mahogany Lane and Battle Creek, Pleasant Grove, Utah) Chickory and grains (Lindon, Utah foothills) Sunflowers (gathered from Indian Hills, Dry Canyon, Skyline, Lindon, and our back garden) Foreground trail (Tibble Fork Reservoir Park, Utah)
14 October 2014 I'm finishing my painting of Lucinda again. . . . painting branches above the figure's heads, both to enhance the focal point (the sky was a bit barren) and explain the dappled light on the figures. To do this I have painted from life outside and across from the weeping crab-apple in our back garden. Ten hours of bliss to do the blocking in! Today I had the constant companionship of a visiting flicker, perched on the eave above my head. It took an entire tree, from which to paint, for me to build the overhead branch.
The sky needed softening, the rye grasses needed whitening, the apron needed crisping-up, and I've warmed all the skin tones, pushed darks, and textured Lucy's kerchief fabric.
22 October 2014 I spent five more plein air sessions to complete Blessed, Honored Pioneer.
Elspeth's palette at the beginning of one of the many painting sessions for Blessed, Honored Pioneer. This particular session was the initial painting of some of the costume elements, for which Elspeth had mixed the colors based on the antique fabric shown.