In Harmony

Last week as I was working on my latest James River painting, I ran into a little conudrum. So I decided to put the question out to my followers on my Facebook page to get some feedback. First, here's a few shots of the painting's progression.

The foreground was definitely what was holding most of my attention. Those roots and the light spilling over on the trees, was where it was at. That's fine, but my worry was that once the eye was finished there, it would exit the painting rather too quickly. So I experimented by adding a couple of birds in the middle distance, perhaps as a way to rest the eye before taking flight. I liked the idea, but I was a little worried that an additional element would split the focus or detract from the foreground too much. 

I knew which way I was leaning, but I thought it would be fun to put the question out there in Facebook land. The overwhelming feedback was YES to birds. So birds it is...simple ones, just shapes, really. It's been raining for days, so it's been really difficult to get a good shot of the completed painting, but finally, here it is!

"In Harmony" Oil on linen, 24x30" ©Jennifer E Young

"In Harmony" Oil on linen, 24x30" ©Jennifer E Young

This is another painting of the James River's Pony Pasture. I've done a couple of other small plein air studies of this exact view in the past, and have always wanted to do a larger one. I'm not sure why it took me so long to get around to it, but I'm glad I finally did. You can see more info, plus a couple of detail shots of the painting by clicking on the final image above.

Carlson, trees and me

Well I really do need to stop saying I'm "back in business", because no sooner do I say it then something goes awry. Mid-way into the James River studio piece I posted about in my last blog, Ma Nature delivered to us a belated white Christmas and sub-freezing temperatures. School closed for three days (!) but in fits and starts I got 'er done.

"Take Me to the River", Oil on linen, 24x30: ©Jennifer E Young

"Take Me to the River", Oil on linen, 24x30: ©Jennifer E Young

There's quite an investment in paint in this piece, but since I was able to work at least a little bit on it each day over our surprise break, it stayed open and wet enough that I was able to work up a nice texture without the dreaded gumming up of paint that can lead to over-work. 

Lately I've been looking at and thinking a lot about one of my painting heroes, John F. Carlson. If you paint landscapes (or are the connoisseur of them), you may already know about his well-loved book "Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting". If you haven't heard of it, I highly recommend picking up a copy if you are serious about the study of painting in this genre.

Carlson was a Swedish-American Impressionist born in 1875. His family immigrated to New York in 1884. Carlson went on to study art at the Art Students League in New York City, and achieve a fine career as a landscape painter, with prestigious exhibitions and a position as the director of the Woodstock School of Landscape Painting.

While he painted a variety of subjects, he made many powerful works based on scenes containing primarily groupings of trees. Carlson really was a master of form and negative space. The simplicity of his subject matter in many of his better-known paintings belied the abstract power of his compositions.

So in addition to thinking about light and shadow, variations in color, etc., I thought a lot about variation in shapes, both negative and positive. The James River series really does lend itself to this kind of study, as many paths to the river are wooded before you arrive at its rocky banks. Twisted roots along the forest floor add an additional element of interest to the composition. I had such a good time with this painting that I am developing a companion. More about that coming soon.

A new start in 2017

Happy New Year everyone! Yes I know that's a bit late, but we are trying hard to shake off the fun and lazy days of winter break and get back in the routine of waking up early to report to work and school. Since my daughter was home on break, I gave up on the idea that I'd get any real work done and took that time off leading up to Christmas to devote to family. As much as I love painting, I had such a sweet time hanging with my daughter.

Nevertheless, there is a time and a season, and now I'm back to work and it's time for some art! We are settling into winter in Virginia, and it's prime time for hibernating and lot more work in the studio. I have done a lot of small works this past summer and fall, so I'm upping the scale for a while inside.  I'm starting out by picking back up with the James River Park theme.  This is a 24x30" piece of the section of the park known as Pony Pasture. I painted a small piece at roughly the same location in the fall, though this new view is what I saw when I turned my head to the left.

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I like this idea of peeking out at the river through the trees. We will see if what I have in my mind can be successfully executed on canvas.

jamesriver_wip2_jenniferyoung
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One of my favorite things about locations along the river banks are the trees. Years of the water's ebb and flow at the river's edge has left many of the tree roots bare. Roots stretch out like tentacles clutching the land, and yet these large trees manage to hang on.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Before we head over the river and through the woods to commune with our family, I thought I share this little series of beach paintings I completed last week for the Annual Miniature Show Opening December 1st at Gallery Flux. Each image is just  6x6". While they are a little "off season" for us here in Virginia, the overarching theme that was at the forefront of my mind was one of family and friendship. So in that sense, they seem a good way to herald in the Thanksgiving holiday.

These are some crazy and tumultuous times we are experiencing right now in America, which makes our bonds and connections with each other all that much more important. Enjoy your time with loved ones today, in what ever way you observe Thanksgiving. I know I am incredibly thankful for my own personal relationships, which includes each of you who have connected with me through art. In friendship- Jennifer