Butter and Buttercups

Each year in early spring the rural counties in Virginia are blanketed with sunny yellow buttercups, and each year I vow to get outside and paint them in the field. More often than not though, I miss their brief appearance for one reason or another. It’s a busy time at my daughter’s school, or I am preparing for a show, or moving, etc., etc., etc.) This year I got lucky, thanks to the sweet tip I received from my husband, who spotted this location on his morning drive to work. 

"Butter and Buttercups", Oil on linen, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young

"Butter and Buttercups", Oil on linen, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young

This dairy farm is about 20 minutes from my home in Ashland, out in rural Hanover County just past historic Hanover Tavern. I started out painting the barn and fields, cowless, with a plan of perhaps adding the cows later from photos I took on site. Just toward the end of my session though, the cows obliged, and ambeled over long enough for me to paint a suggestion of their general shape and position. I decided to leave them as I painted them in the field, as I felt the handling was consistent with the rest of the painting.

New auctions listed; sale ends December 10th!

I'd like to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who has bid on my online auctions! If you haven't checked them out in a few days, I have added several more original paintings to my auction site, with subjects ranging from beach to farm to garden. I plan to wrap up this online sale in a couple of weeks, so if you have been planning to bid on one of these paintings now is the time. Here's what's currently on the auction block:

Take me to the river

The fall weather and colors  have been pretty spectacular this year for plein air painting, so I have a little backlog of images to post as a result. The first two paintings were done last week at a paint out with the Virginia Plein Air Painters group. This is a great group that gathers once a month (sometimes more) from spring through fall to paint together en plein air. The great thing about this group is that members will organize unique locations within about an hour of Richmond. Some sites are public, but others are on private property that can't be accessed ordinarily. Such was the case with this location.

The owner of the property happened to be a Zen garden and landscape designer who allowed us to paint on her sprawling property fronting the South Anna River. There were so many beautiful compositions to be made that it was really hard deciding what to paint. But since I wanted to take advantage of the autumn foliage and the play of light across the sparkling water, I was most drawn to the natural settings along the river bank.

This was my morning effort:

"Autumn on the South Anna River", Oil on linen, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young

"Autumn on the South Anna River", Oil on linen, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young

I had such a great time with that one that after a quick brown bag lunch I decided to try another river painting a little further upstream:

A few days went by when I couldn't get back outside, but I kept thinking about how satisfying it was to be painting down by the river. Especially in the fall, where the vibrancy of the light is at an all time high. This has to do with both the lower angle of the light at this time of year, and the way coolness of the blues and purples in the shadows so naturally play compliment to the autumn hues of gold, orange and red.

Yesterday was my next opportunity to revel in all of that beautiful light and color. I couldn't finagle my way back onto the South Anna River property without a proper invitation, so I decided to return to Pony Pasture, the same section of the James River Park system that I visited in my prior blog post.

"Sun-kissed", Oil on canvas, 6x8" ©Jennifer E Young

"Sun-kissed", Oil on canvas, 6x8" ©Jennifer E Young

As lovely as it is, the autumn light tends to move faster than the spring and summer, and I only had time to do a small one this time before making the trek back to Ashland.  But at least I got my fix. I can't promise I'm done, though; the weather's supposed to be pretty nice for the next few days, and winter lurks just around the corner.

Local fare

Doing the mom/artist thing is a constant juggling act. For that matter, doing the mom/anything thing a juggling act! I love painting the early morning light, but so many mornings, despite my best intentions, I cannot get out of the door to paint on locations as early as I would like.  It seems silly, but this can actually be a source of considerable anxiety for me. But, as with so many other lessons that parenting teaches me, I have had to learn to make peace with what is, and perhaps even embrace it. 

This painting occurred on such a morning. With a late start I decided to see if I could find something of interest to paint in my neighborhood. It's actually not that hard in Ashland, as it's a small railroad town with beautiful historic houses and lots of charm. 

"Bicycle Garden," Oil on linen, 10x10"

"Bicycle Garden," Oil on linen, 10x10"

If I'm not mistaken, this bike has been on this corner since the fall, in anticipation of the UCI Road World Championships that whizzed through our locality in September. In Ashland, decorated bikes were set up everywhere. Even after the races, many of the bikes have remained, their decorations changing according to the season. I have been eyeing this corner for a while now, enjoying the charm of it. When the daffodils popped up, that sealed the deal for me. 

Incidentally, you never know what can happen when you stand on a street corner in a silly hat, no makeup, and sweatpants. You just might encounter a photographer who works for the local paper!

jenniferyoung_hanoverheraldprogress

October Pumpkins

In Hanover County, Virginia,  where I now live, fall is particularly lovely. The profusion of green has given way to warm rich tones of gold, red and orange. October is pumpkin season, and you don't have to drive too far around here to find a roadside stand where you can pick up some  pumpkins to decorate the front stoop. If you are feeling adventurous you can even take the kids to a pumpkin patch so they can pick their very own.  Myself, I rather like leaving them put and painting them right where they are growing (in this case, the pumpkins, not the kids!). 

"October Pumpkins, Hanover" Oil on Panel, 8x10" ©Jennifer Young

"October Pumpkins, Hanover" Oil on Panel, 8x10" ©Jennifer Young

This painting came about after getting a call from a painter friend of mine. She'd made arrangements to paint at the Hanover Vegetable Farm on one of the last days in October, and invited me to come along. I drive past this farm from time to time and I'd been eyeing those pumpkins for a couple of weeks. But for whatever reason, I hadn't gotten around to calling the proprietor up about painting there. So when the chance arose, I jumped on it. We got there around 8 a.m. The sun was low and the moon was still up. And of course, there were all of those cute round pumpkins gathering round the dirt path and echoing the shape of the waning moon. 

While I have really loved painting with my water soluble oil paints in the studio lately, I painted this piece solvent free using traditional oils. I used a little bit of Gamblin's Solvent Free Gel for my medium, and cleaned my brushes with walnut oil. I'm happy to report that it worked out just fine. I am so glad to leave that messy can of toxic solvent  out of the picture and just pack a little bottle of walnut oil and a small jar to swish my brushes in for cleaning. 

It's been raining around here for the last couple of days and I am anxious to see if the foliage will hold up until the sun comes back out. It would be great to get out a few more times before we have to say farewell to all of this gorgeous autumn color. We will see....