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Snapshot of an artist's workflow

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This studio panorama, taken 2017 March 3, shows (left to right) Rending the Veil, Trailhead, and Eve...
This studio panorama, taken 2017 March 3, shows (left to right) Rending the Veil, Trailhead, and Everenne Jurevanne at various stages.  The Jerusalem and Trailhead Projects are stacked on additions to the $10 easel that made it possible to work concurrently on the two large paintings.


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 Vanoe
Studio 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.  First of all, this particular trio became challenging because of their sheer cumulative size; secondly, because of the high density of the image content of two of them; and, thirdly, because the cumulative duration of the three projects—all being done without the motivation of a commission—meant that I had to draw stamina for them from somewhere.  This was exacerbated in the case of the painting of Jerusalem because it began as a commissioned work, but the project for which it was intended dried up.

First, the matter of size:  I actually enjoy large-scale work and venture into it whenever possible.  So it wasn't the cumulative 63+ square ft. of the paintings that intimidated me.  Ultimately, it became a matter of not having the floor space in which to house them while they refused to be completed no matter how much I worked on them, or how much floor space I actually added to the studio, or how ingenious I could be in making or modifying easels to house them while I used the same easels to complete commissioned work that, blessedly, kept showing up in the meantime.  I even have a history of painting scenic panels; ceiling, walls and doors (including two 16th century monsters I painted in the studio), or the 70 square feet of a triptych for which I turned the studio loft into an easel.  The list goes on, including a large number of large oil paintings, some of which hang in the studio on steel cables and wenches.

Balancing detail and suggestion in a painting, as well as reconciling these with a painting's size, is the subject of You do realize you're crazy?

In terms of endurance, I offer some thoughts at the end of this page, below the timeline of major oil paintings completed over the past ten years.

The following timeline features most of the painting projects I worked on while also working on the Big Three, listed above.  However, before presenting the timeline, the following list covers what is not included in the timeline.  For various reasons I chose not to encumber the workflow timeline with them, not only because of privacy, but because everyone's list would be different anyway.  So, I provide detail about painting projects, but only a list suggesting other kinds of factors with which any full-time artist works; a context without which it is impossible to fully understand and appreciate the layering of miracles involved in pursuing and completing any creative endeavor.
Major life events
Major fine art projects already under way before or during 2011
Major professional non-artwork projects ongoing during this period
Major fine art projects begun and cancelled during this period
Fabrication of costumes, props and miniatures during this period
Fabrication of studio equipment and remodeling of workspaces during this period
Staged photo shoots
Major Studios operational projects and demands
Commissions awarded to the other Artists of Al Young Studios (my involvement being only as a support)
Major community and family or household projects
In the captions accompanying the paintings featured in the following timeline, self-funded projects are marked endowed  as opposed, for example, to being labeled commissioned .

Start dates appear only for the Big Three.  Under headings for 2012 through 2020, I also list my annual total of painting sessions completed during the year.  These approximations derive from my records, but are approximations nonetheless.  The tallies pertain to all the paintings on which I worked during the year, not just the paintings listed in the timeline.  If nothing else, the annual tallies imply just how much my own work is not confined to that of a studio artist, but involves an equally demanding focus as a writer and editor, business owner, etc.

major concurrent painting projects
2011 october - 2021 september


2011

The Trailhead painting project begins in October
The Trailhead painting project begins in October

2012
Annual tally of painting sessions - 136

Not Knowing BeforehandOil on panel - 36 in. x 51.5 in.Endowed - Completed 2012 MayThe comp...
Not Knowing Beforehand
Oil on panel - 36 in. x 51.5 in.
Endowed - Completed 2012 May

The composition for this painting was designed the same day that I designed the composition for the Trailhead project.  Work on both projects began 2011 October 21.  Not Knowing Beforehand was completed by the following May.  Trailhead was completed nearly ten years later.

2013
Annual tally of painting sessions - 160

Ny VerdenOil on panels - A polyptych consisting of four panels(69.5 in. x 48 in. per panel - Totali...
Ny Verden
Oil on panels - A polyptych consisting of four panels
(69.5 in. x 48 in. per panel - Totaling 13,344 square inches)

Commissioned - Completed 2013 May
Only one panel shown in this photo

Ny Verden was one of three demanding commissions for artworks whose completion was tied to a major construction project.  While commissioned work always takes precedence over endowed projects, the timeline for these commissioned paintings halted all other projects; hence the first major delay in the Trailhead timeline.

Den Kommende VårenOil on panel - 69.5 in. x 48 in.Commissioned - Completed 2013 MaySee th...
Den Kommende Våren
Oil on panel - 69.5 in. x 48 in.
Commissioned - Completed 2013 May

See the commentary associated with Ny Verden (above).

Den Kommende VinterenOil on panel - 69.5 in. x 48 in.Commissioned - Completed 2013 MaySee ...
Den Kommende Vinteren
Oil on panel - 69.5 in. x 48 in.
Commissioned - Completed 2013 May

See the commentary associated with Ny Verden (above).

He Hath Anointed MeOil on panel - 30 in. x 51.75 in.Endowed - Completed 2013 NovemberThe c...
He Hath Anointed Me
Oil on panel - 30 in. x 51.75 in.
Endowed - Completed 2013 November

The composition for this painting was designed, and work on the project began 2012 February 17.  Work on the painting continued until the Stein Ericksen commission took precedence.  Work resumed on He Hath Anointed Me upon completion of that commission.

2014
Annual tally of painting sessions - 132

What Is Truth?Oil on panel - 24 in. x 27.625 in.Commissioned - Completed 2014 MayThe need ...
What Is Truth?
Oil on panel - 24 in. x 27.625 in.
Commissioned - Completed 2014 May

The need for this painting arose in 2014 January in connection with a book-publication deadline for which the painting was to serve as an illustration.  That deadline gave precedence to the project.

Under Whose Wings Thou Art Come to TrustOil on panel - 35.375 in. x 76.4375 in.Commissioned -&n...
Under Whose Wings Thou Art Come to Trust
Oil on panel - 35.375 in. x 76.4375 in.
Commissioned - Completed 2014 May

Like What Is Truth? (above) my work on this painting project (also intended as a book illustration) arose in 2014 January and took precedence over other projects.

The Dawning of a Brighter DayOil on panel - 37.75 in. x 44.5 in.Endowed - Completed 2014 D...
The Dawning of a Brighter Day
Oil on panel - 37.75 in. x 44.5 in.
Endowed - Completed 2014 December

The composition for this painting was designed and work on the project began 2011 October 21, the same day that compositions were completed for Trailhead and Not Knowing Beforehand (above).  Even though work began on this painting at the same time as those projects, it involved a failed start followed by 107 painting sessions, in addition to being delayed by higher priority projects.

2015
Annual tally of painting sessions - 117

The Jerusalem painting project begins in April
The Jerusalem painting project begins in April

2016
Annual tally of painting sessions - 50

2017
Annual tally of painting sessions - 119

Land of LibertyCollaboration between Elspeth C. Young & Al R. YoungOil on panel - 44 in. x 58 in.Com...
Land of Liberty
Collaboration between Elspeth C. Young & Al R. Young
Oil on panel - 44 in. x 58 in.
Commissioned - Completed 2017 January

My brief brushwork involvement in painting the sky and sea in the background of this painting lasted only from 2016 October 11 through 2017 January 23.

Everenne Jurevanne (Under the Northern Mountains)Oil on panel - 46.875 in. x 35.625 in.Endowed ...
Everenne Jurevanne (Under the Northern Mountains)
Oil on panel - 46.875 in. x 35.625 in.
Endowed - Completed 2017 June

Work on this painting commenced 2017 February.  At that time, the only major legacy painting projects in my workflow were Trailhead and Jerusalem.  Under the Northern Mountains was the first major painting project associated with The Isles of Rune.  Having painted for several years such a string of what I think of as symphonies (in terms of project magnitude), I had begun to explore possibilities for creating tone poems, if only for recreation.  Accordingly, there were other painting projects that came and went during this period, but none merits inclusion in this portfolio.

The Lunta painting project begins in June
The Lunta painting project begins in June

Hano Andarion Maria (A Very Ancient Song)Oil on panel - 46.875 in. x 35.625 in.Endowed - C...
Hano Andarion Maria (A Very Ancient Song)
Oil on panel - 46.875 in. x 35.625 in.
Endowed - Completed 2017 September

2018
Annual tally of painting sessions - 151

Mountain HomeOil on panel - 26 in. x 24 in.Endowed - Completed 2018 February
Mountain Home
Oil on panel - 26 in. x 24 in.
Endowed - Completed 2018 February

Imariva tache Annoide (Lands that Were)Oil on panel - 33 in. x 44 in.Endowed - Completed 2...
Imariva tache Annoide (Lands that Were)
Oil on panel - 33 in. x 44 in.
Endowed - Completed 2018 February

And He Shall Be Their ShepherdCollaboration between Elspeth C. Young & Al R. YoungOil on panel - 48 ...
And He Shall Be Their Shepherd
Collaboration between Elspeth C. Young & Al R. Young
Oil on panel - 48 in. x 62 in.
Commissioned - Completed 2018 April

2019
Annual tally of painting sessions - 144

Out of the WestOil on panel - 22.125 in. x 16.56 in.Endowed - Completed 2019 AugustThis pa...
Out of the West
Oil on panel - 22.125 in. x 16.56 in.
Endowed - Completed 2019 August

This painting sketch "happened" one day and was important in terms of this timeline because it marks the beginning of my focus on suggestion or summary as opposed to painstakingly articulated detail.  Note the emergence of such paintings from here to the end of the timeline because this style of painting became part of my stamina for completing the massive and detailed content of Trailhead and Rending the Veil.

Omana Imariva (The Far Isles)Oil on panel - 7.06 in. x 10.56 in.Endowed - Completed 2019 S...
Omana Imariva (The Far Isles)
Oil on panel - 7.06 in. x 10.56 in.
Endowed - Completed 2019 September

Once again, note not only the predominance of suggestion in the image, but the small size of the painting.

Bringing Them BackOil on panel - 8.187 in. x 7.06 in.Endowed - Completed 2019 October 5
Bringing Them Back
Oil on panel - 8.187 in. x 7.06 in.
Endowed - Completed 2019 October 5

2020
Annual tally of painting sessions - 168

Tåkesangen (The Song of the Mist)Oil on panels - 7182 sq. in., approx. 4 ft. x 13 ft.Commissioned&n...
Tåkesangen (The Song of the Mist)
Oil on panels - 7182 sq. in., approx. 4 ft. x 13 ft.
Commissioned - Completed 2020 August

2021

I Will Be Your Everlasting LightOil on panel - 44 in. x 31.25 in.Endowed - Completed 2021 ...
I Will Be Your Everlasting Light
Oil on panel - 44 in. x 31.25 in.
Endowed - Completed 2021 January

Rending the Veil: The Path of DiscipleshipOil on panel - 48 in. x 84 in.Endowed - Complete...
Rending the Veil: The Path of Discipleship
Oil on panel - 48 in. x 84 in.
Endowed - Completed 2021 May

Summer AfternoonOil on panel - 6 in. x 4.25 in.Endowed - Completed 2021 June
Summer Afternoon
Oil on panel - 6 in. x 4.25 in.
Endowed - Completed 2021 June

TrailheadOil on panel - 47 in. x 60 in.Endowed - Completed 2021 June
Trailhead
Oil on panel - 47 in. x 60 in.
Endowed - Completed 2021 June

Jackman MillOil on panel - 8.75 in. x 8.625 in.Commissioned - Completed 2021 July
Jackman Mill
Oil on panel - 8.75 in. x 8.625 in.
Commissioned - Completed 2021 July


Lunta jo Vanoe (Lunta and Vanoe)Oil on panel - 36 in. x 64.5 in.Endowed - Completed 2021 A...
Lunta jo Vanoe (Lunta and Vanoe)
Oil on panel - 36 in. x 64.5 in.
Endowed - Completed 2021 August

Finally, some thoughts about endurance:  I find it impossible to think or speak about endurance without acknowledging the God and Father of us all as being the beginning and the ending—which is to say the origin and fruition—of all of my enduring.  And I think that's true of enduring wherever we find it, regardless of a person's ideas about God or, indeed, whether or not a person even believes God exists.  Given that I believe God to be real, I find that being square with Him according to what I know about Him is the foundation of my confidence and endurance.  That foundation is indispensable.  And, given that foundation and the need to complete a painting, for example, I find that my ability and stamina for exercising patience—which is largely a matter of judiciously postponing judgment—is absolutely crucial.  Experience comes in handy, even bad experience, because it can refine our ability to see possibilities and to hope for a good outcome when the present looks hopeless.  Additionally, fatigue and problem solving don't mix.  So, the more experience we gain—not only at working but resting—the more likely we are to see possibilities instead of only problems, and the more readily we have the renewed energy to act accordingly.

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

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