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Project Commentaries: Joy for Mourning by Elspeth Young

By
Joy for Mourning (Rebecca Bearse Reed) was painted by the artist in the studios at Ben Haven.

Dimensions (unframed width x height)
14 in. x 18 in.

Support
Panel

Milestones
Research commences - August 2018
Painting completed - December 2018

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 nature of this project:

2018 October 1 - Cultural pattern studies for costume ornamentation
2018 October 1 - Cultural pattern studies for costume ornamentation

2018 October 1
As I continue work on the painting of Brandi Webster as Rebecca Bearse Reed, Dad suggested a stroke of genius: echo the motifs and material culture of her ancestors (Massasoit's tribe—the Wampanoag people) in the shawl, fabrics, and figure's surroundings.  Accordingly here are today's sketch studies as I familiarize myself with their beautiful workmanship preparatory to incorporating them into elements of the painting.

2018 October 12 - Quail egg color study
2018 October 12 - Quail egg color study

2018 October 12
These quail eggs appeared by magic on the very day I was researching "The Miracle of the Quail" while the early saints were so deeply afflicted at Potter's Slough during their cruel forced Exodus from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City—a miracle in which Rebecca was witness to the Lord's mindfulness.

I thought perhaps some quails eggs near the figure would be a quaint reminder of the miracle (a quail itself indoors being rather ridiculous).  Lovely to paint from Life!

Note to self: Northern bobwhite quail are native to the region of Potter's Slough.

2018 November 23 - Costume concept
2018 November 23 - Costume concept

2018 November 23
This sketch is a concept whereby a formerly paisley shawl modeled by my character for Rebecca can display some motifs from her ancestral Native American tribe.  Having completed the farmhouse background (inspired by a room in the historic Hale farmhouse in Ohio), the figure of Rebecca is in its third layer at this time.  Paint dries on a disposable pallet sheet for two to four days before I apply it to the painting in very dry, chalky, layers, carefully rendered.  Glazing will come soon.

2018 November 23 - Color scheme
2018 November 23 - Color scheme

2018 November 29
Yesterday, the birds and I seemed to paint together.  Dozens of goldfinches, chickadees, dark-eyed juncos, thrushes, and the occasional flicker flocked about my studio windows to cheer me.  Happy hours.

2018 December 1 - Facial studies
2018 December 1 - Facial studies

2018 December 1
These sketches helped me realize that, as I continue to refine Rebecca's face, all blending strokes should be in the upward motion.  Unusual, but her facial structure in real life indicates such.    Though my model, Brandy, granddaughter of Rebecca doesn't echo much of Rebecca's facial structure, the similarity of eye, brows, and countenance is uncanny!

2018 December 6
Painted Ohio native wildflowers in Rebecca's bouquet today.  Selected these for their respective symbolism:

Whitlow grass (from the mustard family) for Faith.
Echinacea for Healing.
Hepatica, a seven-petaled flower symbolizes perfection, God, eternity, infinity, and forgiveness.
December 15 - Color studies
December 15 - Color studies

2018 December 15
It was poignant to complete a painting of a real-life "Lamanite" in 1830 reading The Book of Mormon for the first time as I finished my own reading of the book at the invitation of our Prophet, President Nelson.  The final brushstrokes of Rebecca's portrait and my own reading of Moroni's promises, hopes, and dreams for his Lamanite brethren occurred within hours of each other.  During my months working on this rewarding portrait, we women received President Nelson's invitation to gather Israel, beginning by re-reading this beloved book, and both my painting and my reading have been wonderfully informed by one another.
December 15 - Butterfly studies
December 15 - Butterfly studies

Tags: Joy For Mourning, 2019, Project commentaries

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