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January, Aerin, 2021.

24"x18", acrylic on canvas.

january.png
A photo of an unfinished painting with a digital drawing on top of it. The painting depicts a purple star spangled sky withh a distant hill covered in lights. In front of the hill are the silhouettes of trees. Digitally drawn on, there is an orange and blue house with smoke coming from its chimney. The house also has blue Christmas lights on the front and an orange porch light casting light onto nearby trees. In the foreground, in front of the house, is another tree silhouette.

I made the sky of this piece a little more textured and strange than I usually do. I had made a sky similar to this one, with lots of brush marks and streaks of color in it once before, but I scrapped it. That sky had been cool, but it was pink, not purple, and those colors didn't fit with any of the ideas I had so I just painted over it. So, later I made this sky so that I could still enjoy the patterning but with a more suitable color. 

I used my trusty digital study method to test out colors. I really liked the idea of blue lights, but I think I should have picked an easier color. I found it really hard to make the blue ones as glow-y as I wanted them to be. But, you'll never improve if you never push yourself to do difficult things. Next time I try Christmas lights, they'll be even better. 

Download the image to see it in its highest quality!

This painting is based on houses I would see up in the hills surrounding Fairbanks. I love how you can catch these flashes of houses in between trees, tucked away in their own little nook. One of the things I also really love about the hills is being able to peek down at Fairbanks. The lights are so pretty. 

Speaking of lights, I knew that the Christmas lights would be necessary for this piece. In Fairbanks there are Christmas lights absolutely everywhere. I even have multiple strings of them in my own home. I really like the outdoors ones because they look so magical in the dark months of winter. They're pretty iconic and I knew I needed at least one painting that featured them. 

I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted this piece to look like, though I wasn't sure what aspect ratio I wanted to go for. After drawing my basic idea I compared it to the canvases I had on hand and then drew another, smaller thumbnail to make sure I liked the framing of the aspect ratio I picked.

A pen sketch in a sketchbook of a house surrounded by trees with a moon above it. Underneath it is a smaller sketch of the same house and trees, but the trees are filled in black.

The perspective of the house went weird somewhere. I tried to fix it a couple times, but everything I tried looked even weirder than this in progress pic. The front of the house is painted like its facing the viewer head on, but the rest of the house is at like, a 3/4ths angle. In the end, I stopped fighting with it because none of my perspectives ever look totally realistic anyways, and I knew it would be less noticeable when I put the railing and foreground trees in.

My philosophy is that if I wanted to be perfectly realistic, I would just take a photo. After all, I'm a photographer as well as a painter. For my paintings, I feel that mood and concept are far more important than realism. This isn't even a real house that exists, so I can make it look however I want. I think that the way the house fits into the overall composition works perfectly, and I don't need to fix what isn't broken. 

An unfinihsed, partially shaded painting. The sky is purple and star spangled, with a glowing moon. Far in the distance there is a hill covered in lights. In front of the hill, there are tree silhouettes. In front of the trees is a brown and blue house with a porch, two windows, a door adorned with a wreath, a porch light, and a chimney letting off smoke.
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