This week I've just returned from our annual trip to the North Carolina Outer Banks. After a hectic start to the summer both my husband and I dearly needed some family vacation time to deflate, so we mostly swam, sunned, slept in, and ate a lot of seafood! Needless to say I didn't get a lot of painting done, but I did sneak out early one morning for some plein air sketching beneath the Avalon Fishing Pier:
Paintings of France, Italy, and Beyond ©Jennifer E Young
Though I have a great love for plein air painting and do it as often as my time and circumstances allow, I have, out of necessity, become much more of a studio painter these last few years. Working on location is like painting calisthenics. It demands one's full concentration, advance planning, additional travel time, and a good amount of in-the-moment ingenuity in order to capture the particular color notes and light effects of that point in time. As with physical exercise, I get both an exhilarating rush and a bit of a drain afterwards.
While I love the spontaneity in my plein air work, my studio work has its advantages. For one I can be more deliberate. Without the limitations imposed by time and changing light, I can go larger in the studio, and at times, improve on my drawing and composition. I can also experiment more easily with various formats, color combinations, and other formal aspects of 2D artistry.
While I have been engaged in both practices for many years now, I want to do more to relate the two disciplines to each other in a more purposeful way. Part of the reason I haven't always managed this is because I tend to consign my plein air paintings to galleries almost immediately after I complete them, which means I am separated from them for either the length of the consignment, or forever if the painting is sold outright. I do have photographs of all of my plein air paintings as well as photographs of the location (though as you can see above, the latter often tells me very little about the true color I saw in the moment.)
Therefore I'm making a concerted effort to do more plein-air to studio paintings, using the actual plein air paintings as my primary reference when at all possible. Here's my most recent effort:
Here's my setup, in progress. I used my tablet holder to prop up my plein air painting so that both pieces would be under the same light for better color accuracy. It actually worked very well. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention! :)
Though I don't get there often enough, I have long maintained a love affair with North Carolina's Outer Banks. Last week we again made our annual sojourn there, and what a week it was! The weather was near perfect, the water a crystal clear turquoise blue. There were dolphin sightings, beautiful sunrises, and pelicans, sandpipers, and seagulls presiding over it all.
This was the first year in a long time that I was able to get out and paint so often. I kind of made it my mission to do so, especially since the weather was so cooperative all week (my fabulous husband and daughter were pretty darn cooperative too.) My fair skin suffers from too much sun and heat, so I took to painting mostly in the early morning or early evening to salvage it as best I could. Here's a little slideshow of the plein air paintings I completed there. I plan to use these as jumping off points for developing larger pieces in the studio since I will likely have to curtail much of my plein air painting during the unforgivably hot month of August.
All of these paintings are done in Gamblin traditional oils on linen mounted canvas board. I used my new favorite plein air medium, Gamblin's Solvent Free Gel as well as a small dropper bottle of Gamsol for laying in my design at the beginning stages of the painting. This really keeps the transport and setup of my plein air gear lighter and more streamlined. Hover your mouse over each of the enlarged images to read more about each piece.
Back in spring as I was packing up and/or discarding my earthly belongings, I had imagined that by fall we would have begun working on a new studio at the new house. "Oh, I'll be up and running by winter," I thought. Well, I may have been a "tad" optimistic as we haven't come close to deciding how or even where we will fashion one. In light of the constant waffling, we finally decided to rent a little temporary workspace for me, to take the pressure off a bit.
Viola! My little space. It's certainly a far cry from my former studio. It's tiny, it's dark, it's plain...but it's mine (at least temporarily). And I couldn't be happier to be back at work. :-)
What's missing in this picture is, of course, the easel. I will keep things simple (and light) by using my Soltek in here. I have also added a few additional lights to brighten things up a bit and make things a bit easier on the eyes.
To kick off the occasion, I dove into a subject I have been dying to develop since I painted it on location this summer- The Outer Banks of North Carolina. I was especially keen to dive into the concept of the sunrise, having tackled in en plein air in July:
Because I am renting this space and the ventilation is poor, I will only use water miscible oils here. So this, friends, marks another inaugural moment, of sorts--my first studio painting with Royal Talens Cobra water miscible paints. I have to say, I am loving these paints in the studio. They stay open longer than my traditional oils, which makes it easier to manipulate edges and build up to lovely, lush texture without having to do it all alla prima. The only criticism I have at the moment is that the Titanium White in this brand is rather weak. Maybe I just need to get used to the tinting properties of the other paint colors, but I used almost half of a 150 ML tube of paint on this one 20x24" painting. (And that's not *much* of an exaggeration.) Otherwise, though, I am having a great time and am so happy to have a room to call my own to create and leave all of my toys lying about.