An Evening at the Boatyard

This painting was a little difficult to photograph due to the contrast in the subject and the thick texture in the paint. But I ultimately succeeded in capturing a good shot on a flat and cloudy day when it wasn’t too dark or too blaringly bright outside. Hopefully the energy I felt in returning to the easel shines through in the piece.

“Evening at the Boatyard”, Oil on linen, 20 x 24” ©Jennifer E Young

“Evening at the Boatyard”, Oil on linen, 20 x 24” ©Jennifer E Young

I have been looking at a lot of art lately and painting a few lemons in between (both literally and figuratively😅.) As a result I feel compelled to express myself in a way that is not so literal. I don’t know how far out into the world of abstraction I want to venture, but I do feel the pull to simplify in the very least. What’s enough but not too much? That’s the question. I haven’t found the answer yet, at least not in my own work, but it’s something very much on my mind. It will probably take many more paintings (and quite a few more lemons) before I even come close to an answer.

For Everything, A Season

It’s been a difficult year. I guess I’m now at a point where I can finally write it down, but based on the June date of my last real blog post,😳 (aside from the occasional quick announcement) maybe it was already evident. June was when the reality settled in for me and my siblings that it was time to say goodbye (for now) to our beautiful, sweet, smart, creative mother, who had struggled with her illness in an acute form for over a year. I thought I was prepared, but no matter how well you understand the “reality” in front of you, there’s nothing that really prepares you for such a loss. With a little distance and time, I am still realizing how much it knocked the wind out of my sails, and I’ll admit that I am struggling to get my energy and my painting “mojo” back.

If you, yourself, are a creative of any kind, I’m sure you know that feeling of creative flow. It’s so great when it’s present and really kind of miserable when it isn’t. That’s not to say that I haven’t painted at all. In fact, the paintings I’m sharing in this post are from commissions and projects I worked on over the past few months. But it’s been hard to get that momentum going where gears are all greased and the ideas and inspiration just keep flowing and I’m chomping at the bit with my next idea.

I suppose there are art marketing gurus out there that say that you should never admit such things and always put your most successful foot forward. “Fake it ‘til you make it,” so to speak, and only share your successes and never the struggle. That can sometimes be helpful, but it’s not particularly authentic. Let’s face it, the struggle can be real and I would venture to say I am not the only artist who has been in this place.

If you are in this place also, my advice is to be gentle on yourself. Do the work that is in front of you, do what you can, but don’t beat yourself up that it’s just “not happening” for you every time you step in front of the easel (or the potter’s wheel or the computer). Celebrate the moments of inspiration in whatever form and for however long they come. This too will pass, but in the meantime, the only way past it is to get through it the best way you know how.

For me, I’m reorganizing my studio, working on an new inventory management system, and cleaning up the office as a way to clear out both the mental and physical clutter. As a result, I’m holding a holiday sale of smaller (mostly plein air) paintings with some great savings in hopes that I can manage my limited storage space and also hopefully send a few more pieces out into the world. I’m also working on a series of still life paintings, as they are less dependent on time of day and weather. More about that in future posts.

"Plein Air Unleashed"

Last week I posted about a planned trip to White Stone, VA to paint with fellow artists in a relatively new plein air painting festival called Plein Air Unleashed. There were ten of us artists at this year's event, which spanned over a period of three days. 52 paintings were turned in to Allure Art Center at the culmination, to be displayed at the gallery during the month of May.  This is a fairly newly minted event, so it was pretty relaxed and low-key, which was fine by me as I always feel a bit rusty in the spring after my winter hibernation in the studio. 

This was my collection of paintings turned in at the end of the event.

This was my collection of paintings turned in at the end of the event.

White Stone is less than two hours from where I live, but I have never been to this area, nor anywhere in the Northern Neck. It's really quite a treat for plein air painters like me. The Northern Neck is the northernmost peninsula in Virginia. White Stone, Irvington, and Kilmarnock, where we painted sit at the southern end, where the Rappahanock meets the Chesapeake Bay. The area consists of small beaches, wetlands, marinas, farms, vineyards, and wineries, so there is a wide variety of subject matter to paint, with some really beautiful light and cloud formations from being that it is surrounded by so much water.

In all, I painted 8 pieces and turned in 7 (with one being a tosser). I can sometimes feel stressed by the more competitive events, but this festival was invigorating. It was great to be around other fine caliber painters and to just be able to submerge myself in nothing but painting for a few dedicated days. Here are a few on site photos of works-in-progress:

I felt fortunate to have stumbled on the info about this event through my friend Kim Hall, and hope to return next year. Here are most of the paintings I submitted for the show. I wish I had time to get a terrific record of the artwork submitted, but these photographs will have to do for now. 

The exhibit at Allure Art Center will run through May 26th. The gallery is going to be posting highlights from the event and artists on its Facebook page, so even if you are nowhere near White Stone, you can get a taste of the event online. 

Plein air season

Every spring I jump the gun and think that the warm weather is here to stay, only to be blindsided by Ma Nature. Last week reached 80 degrees, so, after packing away most of my winter things, off I went to the garden center looking for color for my containers. That was last week. This week has been a totally different story, with rain, a March-like chill, and wind, oh so much wind!

Well the one smart thing I did in my zest for spring was to dust off my plein air gear on one of those summery mornings and visit the botanical gardens at Lewis Ginter. I went back to the Grace Arents Gardens that sit in front of the Bloemendaal House. I have painted this garden so many times but it is so beautiful and each season offers something new. In the early spring the garden offers a feast for the eyes dubbed "A Million Blooms", with acres of tulips, daffodils, and other spring bulbs.

"A Million Blooms in Grace Arents Garden" Oil on linen, 11x14" ©Jennifer E Young

"A Million Blooms in Grace Arents Garden" Oil on linen, 11x14" ©Jennifer E Young

I also like this particular site because it is one of the few places where there is adequate shade, and as the years have marched on my skin has become very sensitive. I do slather on the sunscreen and wear a big goofy hat, but it isn't always adequate and I pay for it later. I also carry an umbrella, but I don't really use it that much because of the extra time it takes to mount it, not to mention the dangers of having my whole setup topple over from a surprise gust of wind.

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While I was there at the garden painting, I met several staff members who were enthusiastically commenting on my painting. Among them was the social media guru who took this snap of me in the early stages of my painting (bad hairdo and all). I had a great time and felt the sense of renewal that I always feel when I come back to plein air painting after a long break. Then came the wind and rain and cold, which delayed my ability to get a good shot of this piece outside until now.  I really hope the wind settles down today as I'd like to head back out there (or somewhere) today to get in some more on the spot painting while the spring flowers and trees are still going crazy.

P.S. Many of you responded to my last post with comments about my little obsession with a certain color on my palette. Yes, it is blue, but not any blue. It is (drumroll please) Indanthrene Blue. I will write more about it in an upcoming post.

New Sale Page

Subscribers will have already read that I am running some online auctions as part of a fall sale. What's new in this post is that I have created a page on my permanent website dedicated to my auctions and special offers, which will provide a quick and easy way to view both my auctions and any other promotional sales I might be offering at a given time. I've just listed two new auctions this week and will be adding more in the weeks ahead, so be sure to bookmark the page and check back often! 

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Sale

Visit the auctions and sales page.