Large Hatteras Island Painting -complete!

Here is the final version of the painting I have been working on for the past week or so:

"Path to the Sea" Oil on Gallery Wrapped Canvas, 30x40" ©Jennifer Young

"Path to the Sea" Oil on Gallery Wrapped Canvas, 30x40" ©Jennifer Young

I had such a good time painting this piece I didn't want it to end. The  several prior studies I did of this subject (most of them on location) really helped to inform me about color choices and brushwork, and also, more importantly, they brought back the strong emotional connection I have with the subject. I felt like I was on vacation all over again. Don't get me wrong, this was work, too, but it is this kind of view that I see on summer vacations to the Outer Banks  when I step out on the deck in the morning to sip my first cup of coffee. For me it recalls a time to let all the cares go and just relax!

Progress on the large Hatteras painting

Here are a few progress shots on the Hatteras Island Dunes painting I last blogged about:

Work in progress landscape painting by Jennifer E. Young
Work in progress landscape painting by Jennifer E. Young
Work in progress landscape painting by Jennifer E. Young
Work in progress landscape painting by Jennifer E. Young
Work in progress landscape painting by Jennifer E. Young
Work in progress landscape painting by Jennifer E. Young

Though I am trying hard to address the picture as a whole, it is some kind of work just getting the canvas covered. I have been painting pretty small lately so I am kind of shocked at the amount of paint I'm mixing and using. I think this is especially true because I'm not used to using such an absorbent surface.

In the process of working solely from my painted studies, I've noticed that one of the main reasons I love the smaller alla prima pieces is the amount of broken color in the painting. Color is laid next to color, sometimes within the same stroke, and brush strokes aren't overly licked or blended. The result is that you can achieve a really fresh look with the little ones. It's not impossible to do this with the larger paintings, but you do have to really work wet-into-wet the whole time, and start loading on the paint to get that kind of effect. To have that kind of expectation with a painting of this size may very well be an exercise in futility, especially since I am not able to paint on it every day. On the other hand it is really impossible to replicate stroke-for-stroke what I have done in the smaller studies, as the brush size-to-canvas ratio would mean I'd likely have to turn to using house paint brushes!

So with these "reality checks" in mind, I am still striving to capture that fresh, breezy, beachy essence, even if the nature of this beast is very different from the original. I find myself working more background to foreground on the bigger paintings (rather than strictly dark to light) in order to keep the paint surface workable. Nevertheless, I am saving most of the lightest highlights toward the end because they are the most opaque and have the thickest application.

Hatteras Island W.I.P.

I'm starting something new (and big) today of the Hatteras Island dunes. It's a motif I have been exploring for a while now, though mostly in my field studies.

Outer Banks coastal landscape painting Jennifer Young
Outer Banks coastal landscape painting Jennifer Young

I'm painting this on a 30x40" gallery wrapped canvas, which is a little more absorbent and has a bit more tooth than my usual stretched linen. Hopefully this won't fight against me too much. I need bigger brushes! I want to keep this loose and fresh, like the plein airs, with not too much detail (but just enough.)

Right now I am referencing an image of my inspiration plein air (now sold) on my monitor,  and a second study painted to scale up to 30x40" that I worked up in the studio. The colors are really off in this snapshot, but you get the idea:

©Jennifer E Young

©Jennifer E Young

In the second study I tried to recreate the feeling of the original plein air, but  with a few compositional adjustments to the horizon, sky, and beach path.

It feels good to be working on something large. I have avoided it lately because of my sporadic schedule, but things don't seem to be changing much in that area of my life any time soon, so what the heck.

My Facebook page, plus two plein airs from the OBX

It's been such a while since I've provided some blog love, but there's been so much going on this summer that it's been hard to keep up. However I do  have two little plein air pieces I'd like to share, having just returned from a fabulous week on Hatteras Island in North Carolina's Outer Banks:

"Dunes at Salvo" © Jennifer E Young

"Dunes at Salvo" © Jennifer E Young

"Dunes at Salvo II" ©Jennifer E Young

"Dunes at Salvo II" ©Jennifer E Young

These are both 8x8 studies done on birch panels, painted from the lower and upper decks of the beach house we rented in Salvo. I only painted on a couple of mornings (it was the hubby's vacation too, after all) but I so love painting there that I look forward to doing more and more of these in time. Here you can see me through the picture window, painting on the deck, while the kiddos finished up their breakfast. You might just be able to make out a cup of coffee on the railing. I had my breakfast delivered easel-side, too! Not a bad way to spend the morning. :-)

Jennifer Young painting plein air
Jennifer Young painting plein air

I didn't get to paint out on the shore due to either the timing or the wind, but hope to do so when we return to the Outer Banks in about a month. Though the legs are starting to go, I'm still lugging my big old Soltek easel around. However I'm finding it more and more cumbersome for travel. I may have to dust off my little Prochade kit for my next trip, though I will need to get used to the much smaller palette size again, and the fact that it does not stand up well at all to any kind of wind.

This is the first time I have painted on shellacked birch panel, but I really like it. I prepared my own panels with Zinsser Bullseye Shellac, two coats per side, and sanding in between. I have heard about this kind of panel before, but it was most recently recommended by Matt Smith in his workshop that I attended in the Spring, so I was eager to try it after that. I was a little afraid that the shellac would make for too slick a surface, but it was the just right amount of smoothness and tooth. It did take a little preparation, but once the panels were sealed, the wood provided a lovely blonde tone on which to paint...no extra toning needed.

One final note, I have finally created a Fan page on Facebook, on which I plan to update with announcements and goings on. You'll find a link to it in this post and also in the right sidebar. I guess I'm not exactly on the bleeding edge, but at least now I can finally say, "Like us on Facebook"!

Hatteras Island study

I once had a painting of the Outer Banks that I loved; but for whatever reason didn't sell. It was in my inventory for a number of years, so instead of confining it to the bins any longer, I decided to embrace the fact that I still had possession of it. In fact, I decorated my bedroom around it, painting the walls a beautiful soft gray color that perfectly picked up some of the muted tones in the painting. Unbelievably, two weeks after I had my beautiful "new bedroom" complete, I received a call from a collector asking if it was still available. Yes, I sold it. I am trying to run a business, after all. I do have one or two pieces that I am trying to keep for myself, but for the most part, I'm just not one to turn down sales. So what does this have to do with the painting below? No, it's not the "one that got away" (you can see that one here). This piece is one of a few studies I'm working on in preparation fora large new painting I intend to hang (at least for a little while) in my now repainted bedroom. Well,  I had a nice big gallery wrapped 30x40" canvas, and a nice blank wall, so I figured, why not?

"Hatteras Dunes, Study I" 6x8" Oil on Canvas  Jennifer E Young

"Hatteras Dunes, Study I" 6x8" Oil on Canvas Jennifer E Young

This study is based on two different plein air paintings I did on Hatteras Island on recent family vacations. I am largely basing my composition on a piece called "Hatteras Island Dunes II". But because that painting was 8x10" (a 4:5 ratio), I have to make a few compositional changes to format the new piece to a 30x40" gallery wrapped canvas (3:4 ratio).

As you can see in this new composition, I have changed the direction of the sandy path that leads to the beach and rearranged some shrubs somewhat. I also felt like I wanted a bit more sky showing than in the plein air, so I have lowered the horizon a touch to allow for that. For the sky I am loosely referencing both the above mentioned plein air, as well as another plein air piece from last summer, which you can see here.

I don't seem to have any actual photos of these scenes to reference, so my sole references are my plein air paintings. This is a bit different for me as I usually use both a photo source and my painting when I work from plein air to studio. So it will be interesting to see if I can make this fly! My plan is to try at least one more study before launching into the big canvas, but this is a good start.