Time struggles, plein air, and new calendar of events

This week has been a little crazy; two openings and a plein air event for me, theater rehearsals and school and sports for my daughter, and all of the regular stuff of life in between. But some version of crazy seems to be the norm for my schedule every week, and I am not alone.

While I was painting this week at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (more on that in a minute) I ran into an artist friend and we started talking about how disorganized we can sometimes feel and how guilty we feel about not being better at marketing to social media, to our newsletters, and yes, to our blogs. When time is crunched, the choice of whether to do any of the above or to paint always seems to result in painting as the clear winner.

It’s a frustration that I know a lot of other artists share, many of whom, like me, aren’t always masters of time management or organization. “I need a calendar of events on my website,” I said to my friend, “a quick and simple way for people to check in and see my upcoming shows and events. Maybe it would help me stay more organized too.” When I got home that afternoon, I checked out my site and lo and behold it does have that functionality. So viola! I now have a calendar!😃

If you check out the aforementioned calendar you can see that I have been spending the week painting at the botanical gardens as part of a promotion for National Public Gardens Week. Local artists who applied to paint during this week will submit their completed works for a chance to be juried in to an exhibit at Lewis Ginter that opens June 22nd.

Work in progress, 12x16”, painted during National Public Garden Week at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Work in progress, 12x16”, painted during National Public Garden Week at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

I really like these kind of events because even though I regularly paint outside on my own, they get me out and focused and inspired. I enjoy seeing what other artists are doing and collecting new ideas on various artists setups and tools of the trade. It’s a very different vibe from the more formal events that are organized around competition. I have some friends who thrive on competition and use it as a means to drive themselves onward to bigger heights. For myself, it’s a little more stressful. I do the competitions from time to time and haven’t yet regretted it, but I am not that competitive by nature. So the more relaxed festivals that are really just a celebration of art and plein air painting are truly my jam.

Painting this Thursday at Carytown Collective

Just a quick announcement that tomorrow evening (Thursday October 25th) I will be at The Carytown Collective, doing a little painting and making myself available to answer questions about the paintings I have on display. If you haven't yet had a chance to visit this shop, this event, "Fall in Love With The Carytown Collective" is a great opportunity to have some light refreshments and get to know some of the vendors, and even do a little shopping too. The fun begins at 5 PM and ends at 8. We are located at 3422 West Cary Street in Richmond. Hope you can join us in Carytown!

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Plein Air Westhampton

Plein Air Westhampton was my final major plein air event for the summer. This one was much closer to home, in Richmond, Virginia, which normally would have made it a cinch logistically. However, with a child in primary school and a new puppy at home, I still wasn't able to do morning-to-night painting because Westhampton was about an hours' drive round trip from where I live in Ashland. 

Nevertheless, I got five good paintings out of the week. I felt really lucky to be a part of this inaugural plein air festival. I had the best time painting at this event. The vibe was imbued with excitement and comradery, but it was also low pressure at the same time, which I think helped my painting overall. This event took place in a really lovely part of old Richmond in a neighborhood filled with stately homes, old churches and charming shopping areas. Works painted by the 20+ participating artists during the week were exhibited in an outdoor tent during the street party called Party On the Avenues held on the final Sunday.  It was a well attended show that seemed to garner a lot of interest from the local press and public, and I had a great time painting in this charming district. Being primarily a landscape painter, I really surprised myself by how much I enjoyed painting the street scenes, and the experience left me feeling like I really want to do more with this subject matter. Three of my paintings sold during the event, and one of them was an award winner! It was such a harried week with my back and forth schedule that I regret not getting better photos of my paintings before the show, but I'm including some shots I was able to snap of the paintings I completed during the event. The two remaining paintings are on display at a local Westhampton gallery called Palette Paint and Home .

Intertwined

Mother nature surprises again! By the 2nd week of February we were head-on into spring. The robins were back at least a month early, the fruit trees had all started blooming, and temperatures went has high as the low eighties. Now here we are in the "Ides of March" and in comes the ice and freezing rain, school closings, and the reintroduction of turtleneck sweaters.

I did manage to get down to the river a couple of times during that February thaw, though in both instances I came away with nothing but wipers. However, those "failures" provided fuel for the studio piece below, so all was not lost.  

"Intertwined", Oil on linen, 16x20" Jennifer E Young

"Intertwined", Oil on linen, 16x20" Jennifer E Young

There still wasn't much color in the landscape when I was working on this piece, though the river and sky provided a nice cool counterbalance to the warmth of the earth toned trees in the foreground. As for the drawing and the overall light in the painting I would say this studio piece achieved a level of success and finish that the plein air pieces didn't. Still it was the plein air experience that helped to inform that light and shadow, so in that sense those exercises were essential. 

Speaking of studio work, I am doing just that...working on my new studio space! :-) After a lot of soul searching and agonizing over our budget, we decided to table the idea of building a separate studio on our property. Instead I will be taking over our 20x20' attached garage and installing some doors and windows where our garage doors sit currently. I'll keep my office in an adjacent room in the house, so the garage will be dedicated to just the art studio. I actually think this arrangement will be quite helpful in that when I enter my art space there wont be the distraction of my email and computer.  This setup won't be as fancy as the last studio I had, but I think it will function just fine for my purposes, and will be a far sight better than the tiny dark room I have been painting in for the past 5 or 6 months. 

Unfortunately the garage had kind of become the catch-all for overflow storage items, so it's going to take some time to sort through and clear out everything and make some kind of order and dedicated workspace. But in spite of the storm, the windows were installed yesterday and the doors are scheduled to be installed today! This will be followed by electrical, heat, and a bit of carpentry and painting to finish things off. Hopefully by May I'll be fully in, and oh what a happy day that will be. I will be sure to post some updates as things progress.

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.