Two James River minis before Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! In a couple of hours I'll be cooking up a storm, but first,  I'm sharing two little mini paintings of the James River.  "The Rivah" as it's known to many locals, is one of my favorite places to paint, or just to sit and meditate. It reveals different features at different access points  as it cuts its path through our fair city and beyond. Sometimes it is completely natural with narrow paths covered by tree roots. At other points it is fairly manicured. In either case there is a sense of the wild and untamed, and her rapids rage in spite of our civilized urban sidewalks and towering facades. 

"Lee Bridge", ©Jennifer Young. Oil on board, 6x8" (SOLD) 

"Lee Bridge", ©Jennifer Young. Oil on board, 6x8" (SOLD) 

The above painting features one of the many little "islands" you will find along this urban stretch of the James. In the background the Lee Bridge looms. Suspended below is the pedestrian footbridge that leads from Tredegar street over to Belle Isle. It is a most dramatic walk on a windy day, but the view is unbeatable. 

"The Falls at Belle Isle", ©Jennifer Young. Oil on board, 6x8" $395.00 (framed)

"The Falls at Belle Isle", ©Jennifer Young. Oil on board, 6x8" $395.00 (framed)

This view is the reward that awaits after traversing the suspended footbridge. From my safe perch on the bank of rocks, I often enjoy watching the kayakers making their way across the rapids, as well as  many waterfowl, including blue herons. You'd never know that you were right in the middle of a mid-sized city. It is one of the truly great things about living in the Richmond area, and on the eve of Thanksgiving, in addition, to family, friends, and good food, I am feeling grateful to live here. 



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....

A new look and a new painting!

There were times this week when I really doubted that this announcement would come, but I finally have my new website up. Hurray! There were a few glitches along the way (and there still may be some kinks to work out yet) but overall I am pretty happy with the fresh new look.

Speaking of fresh and new, I'll also share a newly finished painting.

"Daytrippers, Lake Como, Cobra Oils on linen,  20x24" ©Jennifer E Young

"Daytrippers, Lake Como, Cobra Oils on linen,  20x24" ©Jennifer E Young

I actually blogged about the start of this piece a while ago but I got to a point where I just had to take it off of the easel for a while and let it marinate. Sometimes the best way to approach a problem is to do something completely different for a while , so that's exactly what I did. When I was ready to return I could look at it with new eyes (albeit bloodshot ones from staying up late trying to get my website up and running) and bring it to a satisfactory conclusion.

A new thing-a-majig and a new painting

In the wake of the plein air weekend I wrote of in my last post, last week was mostly a recovery week for me. I did manage to get a new studio painting started, however. This is the initial tonal sketch on a 20x24" linen canvas.

Tonal sketch

Tonal sketch

This painting  may prove to be a challenge for me because much of this scene is in shadow. But there are a few pops of light that I am arranging in strategic places that I hope will carry the painting. Hey, you never know unless you try, right?

As with the other recent studio oils, I'm working with water miscible paints. One thing I'm noticing with these paints is that the paint blobs on my palette tend to gum up a little quicker once they are laid out, especially when I can't get back to the studio within a day. The manufacturer, Royal Talens recommends in their product info to mist the unused paints with a little water and cover  with foil to keep them moist and reduce the exposure to air. I have never liked putting plastic or foil directly on my paints though, because I feel that it wastes too much in the removal (yes I realize there is a bit of faulty logic in there but we all have our pet peeves).  So I'm experimenting with this:

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What you are seeing is a basic 9x13" cake pan covered with a silicone doo-jobby that I found on Amazon. It is supposed to create an airtight seal, and the cake pan is deep enough that this cover-thing doesn't actually touch the paint. Whether it will be sufficient to keep the paint from oxidizing remains to be seen. I haven't been back at the easel since Saturday so I guess I will find out this morning when I go to work. I will report back with my findings, as well as an update on my progress with the painting, in an upcoming post.

Plein Air Crush

This week I am coming down off of an exciting weekend in Floyd County, Virginia, where I participated in the inaugural plein air event called Plein Air Crush. In total there were about 19 artists participating over the course of the weekend, with judging and awards taking place on Sunday. This year the event centered around Chateau Morrisette Winery, which has some interesting architectural features, lovely gardens and vineyards, not to mention a fine restaurant and some pretty tasty wine. It sounds luxurious doesn't it? But keep in mind I was not doing much sipping. Instead I was schlepping; schlepping a bunch of art gear and standing for hours, out in the elements. It was hard on the body but rewarding for the spirit, and I had a good time painting the new-to-me scenery and meeting other artists.

We converged on Friday evening for a little meet and greet, but the painting portion of the event kicked off on Saturday, where we faced the threat of rain and some pretty dark skies. Painting in these conditions is really challenging because the value range is very limited and the light fairly flat. So I decided to set up in the vineyard where I found opportunities for some strong linear elements and soft edges that provided interesting compositional options:

"Vineyard in Gray Light", oil on panel, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young. To purchase,  contact me !

"Vineyard in Gray Light", oil on panel, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young. To purchase, contact me!

In the afternoon I decided to venture a little further afield to paint a view of Buffalo Mountain: 

"Buffalo Mountain View" , oil on linen, 8x8"  ©Jennifer E Young

"Buffalo Mountain View" , oil on linen, 8x8"  ©Jennifer E Young

Sunday was the quick draw. It was incredibly windy. Worse than clouds and rain, wind conditions are a nearly impossible situation for the plein air painter because of the danger of having your entire setup topple and/or take flight.  The wind at the winery required that most painters seek a shelterd place unless they had a good way of weighting their setup (which I didn't).

Down at the vineyard though it was much warmer and virtually windless. I hadn't really planned on doing another vineyard piece but I figured it was my best option for success when we had a time limit.

"Sunlit Vines, Oil on linen, 9x12"©Jennifer E Young.  Contact me  to purchase!

"Sunlit Vines, Oil on linen, 9x12"©Jennifer E Young. Contact me to purchase!

Jennifer painting the vineyard at Chateau Morrisette during the Quick Draw.

Jennifer painting the vineyard at Chateau Morrisette during the Quick Draw.

We had three hours for the quick draw (which is actually pretty generous). At the alotted time we had to deliver our quick draw painting and the other works we had completed during the event and set up for judging. Steve Doherty, artist and editor of Plein Air Magazine was the judge. I didn't win any awards but it was cool to meet him and I learned a lot about my painting, and even a bit about myself as well.

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Setting up for the judgement back up at the winery

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Here I am happy and tired. The wind blew up a bunch of dirt on my paintings. I have managed to get most of it off of the two vineyard pieces, but the Buffalo Mountain one was painted really thickly and I don't think that stuff is going to budge. Oh well...that's plein air for you! It was good winery soil at least.

I came home to a messy house and a bunch of dirty laundry, but it was a fair trade for having had time off from mommy duties to do my thing for a whole weekend. (Thanks honey!) :-)