Tag Archives: alla-prima

First plein air of autumn!

Happy Friday everyone. Here’s a little plein air piece I did this week when the kiddo was in preschool. This was done at one of my fav local spots, Bryan Park. The weather has been gorgeous lately so I was thrilled to finally get back to some good old field painting at last!

There were several really good views that I noted, but I settled on this lakeside view with its nice reflections and early autumn foliage. This is totally alla prima, with just a bit of tweaking to the wet paint edges when I returned to the studio. I started it at about 9 a.m.:

Autumn plein air landscape painting by Jennifer Young
“Early Color, Autumn”
Oil on Linen, 12×9″
For more information, click here!

I haven’t mentioned plein air painting gear in a while, but it occurred to me on this outing how much I appreciate the simple shopper that I use to cart around my Soltek easel and all of the rest of my gear. Longtime readers may recall that I have a history with the Soltek that goes back about 7 or 8 years. Well, since the one “tune-up” I had, it is still going strong, though my dilemma about an adequately appointed backpack still exists. However, I picked up this little number several years ago on a whim at Burlington Coat Factory (of all places). It has a front and side outer pocket, and  fits my easel, panel carrier, and the rest of my painting gear (as well as a few personal items) perfectly. Most importantly it is on wheels, which, when used in the appropriate setting, is much easier on my back.

plein air painting gear and tips- Jennifer Young

Now this bag won’t help much trekking through the mountains or hopping over river rocks. But for city painting (which I do most often now due to time constraints and family obligations) it works great. It does have short straps on the top to carry up stairs, etc., but the bag is so long that with my 5′ 4 1/2″ frame they are used pretty minimally.  I have to admit that I have dragged this bag on its wheels through a field or two on a number of occasions, as well as a good many cobblestones. Remarkably it has held up great! The money I spent for this bag ($19.99) has served me well.  This I cannot say for the $70 beach cart I attempted to drag over the dunes last summer. After only traversing 10 feet on its virgin expedition, the cart’s two front wheels promptly went “kerplunk” in the sand!

Independence Day

It was hot and humid and overcast. Our baby had been sick part of the week prior and through the long weekend with a 102 degree fever and hand, foot and mouth virus. And to top it all off, we woke up on July 4th sticky and without power from a tremendous summer storm the night before. But believe it or not, I had a great morning, as I was allowed the privilege of escaping getting outside early to do this little plein air painting.

 plein air painting of water by Jennifer Young
“Pond Reflections”
Oil on board, 12″x9″
Click here for more info, or just contact me to purchase.

The location is Young’s Pond in nearby Bryan Park. I’ve painted this location before a number of times, and this approximate scene once before, which you can see here. There were a number of nearby spots I could have chosen, but on an overcast day it’s nice to paint a water effect, as then you have some luminosity built in, when the light is otherwise fairly flat.

I spent about 3 hours on site working on this piece, which was longer than I normally would do on location. But I think the combination of fairly steady light conditions, and my private glee at having the entire morning completely to myself kept me lingering longer than I would have otherwise.

Here’s a shot of my setup right before I started.

plein air painting setup

Next time I would like to get out even earlier than I did, to try and capture that wonderful atmosphere (aka humidity) before it settles into just plain old hot heavy air. But with a baby, you gotta do what you gotta do, and I was happy to get out at all. My setup has remained pretty consistent over the years, with my Soltek easel still being my go to plein air easel due to the ease of use and quick setup time.

The sun made its appearance often enough that shading myself, my painting, and my palette was a concern. I brought my umbrella with me, but it is a pain to set up and doesn’t really work that great with the Soltek (one of the easel’s down-sides…I’ve yet to find a really compatible umbrella that can attach to it without falling over.) So If I can get away without, I usually do. This often means avoiding standing in the blazing sun, even if it means forgoing a preferred view. Otherwise my painting ultimately suffers (not to mention my skin.)

In this photo I’ve set up my painting panel so that the sun (when it peeks out) is behind it, making it shaded. I am relatively shaded by tree branches overhead. Since I am right-handed, my subject is to my left, so that I am not having to reach across my painting when I look/paint. Often times I can shade my palette simply by wedging another panel between it and my painting. In this case I am using a flat wet panel carrier called the Art Cocoon.

This is actually a pretty neat concept for a wet panel carrier, which I read about some time ago on another artist’s blog (when I still had time to read them) owned by Ed Terpening . The advantage is that you can use the carrier for different sized paintings with the provided inserts, and it is nice and lightweight and not bulky. But the down side for me is that it is made out of cardboard, which eventually warps (especially in our hot Virginia climate) and when that happens it stops protecting the painting effectively.

For that reason, my go-to wet panel carrier is still the RayMar. It’s a little more expensive, and bulkier, but still lightweight. And its coroplast construction means that while it won’t last forever, it lasts a good long time and doesn’t warp.

Postcards from the Outer Banks

This past week we stole away to the North Carolina Outer Banks for a glorious week on Hatteras Island. I had hoped to post while we were away, but I couldn’t get my technology straight to do any mobile blogging. But here are two plein air pieces I completed in the early morning hours, just as the sun was coming up over the dunes. The hubby even took on full babysitting duties so that I could paint the view from our deck. What a guy!

plein air painting of the Outer Banks, North Carolina by Jennifer Young

“Hatteras Island Dunes I”
Oil on Linen, 12″x8″

plein air painting of the Outer Banks, North Carolina by Jennifer Young

“Hatteras Island Dunes II”
Oil on Linen, 8×10″

Top ten reasons to paint your back yard garden

  1. You can paint it better than it actually looks (a few more roses here, a few less weeds there…)
  2. Unlike a public garden, you likely won’t get taken unawares by the sprinkler system.
  3. You are intimately familiar with how the light travels through the garden at different times of the day.
  4. You are intimately familiar with the location of the latrine (and more than likely it will be free and fairly clean.)
  5. You can leave all of your gear set up during breaks (and probably won’t need to get someone to watch your stuff as you break for the above mentioned latrine.)
  6. You can do your part to reduce the carbon footprint (no need to drive anywhere.)
  7. Forgetting to pack an important supply is easily remedied.
  8. Plenty of opportunity to take weeding and pruning breaks (okay, this might not be such a good thing for your painting, but your garden will love it.)
  9. You won’t look like a crazy lady wandering through the park staring at trees, with luggage, a big floppy hat, and a compass. (You’ll just look like a crazy neighbor wandering around her yard with luggage, a big floppy hat, and a compass.)
  10. The reception to the wireless baby monitor extends just to the edge of your yard!

plein air garden painting by Jennifer Young

“Under the Limelight”
Oil on board, 8×6″
Contact me to purchase.

This little painting is kind of a cross between a still life and a plein air painting. The Japanese lantern sits at the corner of my garden under the limelight hydrangea (hence the title.) Since the hydrangea isn’t yet in bloom, I’ve punched up the corner with some potted geraniums.

Venice W.I.P.

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -St. Francis of Assisi

My husband presented me with this quote at breakfast one morning recently, and I think I would do well to have it become my mantra. Even with part-time childcare, I can’t seem to get more than a few hours of weekly studio time right now. With a little baby at home, tending to the necessities of my daugther comes first, and that is as it should be.

Perhaps as I hit my stride as a mother, doing more as an artist will also become possilble. At present, though, what used to come easily in the studio now feels like a real struggle. This painting is kind of crawling along in fits and starts. Here’s what I have so far:

Venice painting in progress by Jennifer Young

Given that I am only getting about 2 hours of painting time in at any given session (which unfortunately still doesn’t occur all that often) I can’t really work alla prima (wet-into-wet) which has always been what I prefer.  The canvas size is 30″x24″, and each time I return to the easel, the paint has dried pretty much completely. I feel like I am doing extra work at each session just to try and open it back up again. 

It’s not as if every other painting I have ever done has been completed in one session, but for some reason, this multi-sessioned piece feels like more of a struggle. Maybe it is just the lack of continuity that has me stumped. Or maybe it’s the lack of decent sleep! But whatever it is, I feel a bit like an inattentive reader, who keeps having to read the same page over and over again because her mind keeps wandering.

Still, in spite of my difficulties, I do feel grateful that it’s possible to have a little time to paint again. Just starting something new and moving the paint around a bit feels good, even if finishing anything still sometimes feels like an impossibility!