Full Moon Nocturne

I painted this little nocturne from my screened porch during a recent full moon.

"Four Square on a Full Moon" Oil on Panel, 10x8" © Jennifer E. Young

"Four Square on a Full Moon" Oil on Panel, 10x8" ©Jennifer E. Young

This is my neighbor's house. I see this house every morning when I pour my coffee, and every evening in the milder seasons when I sit out on the porch after putting my daughter to bed.   There's nothing particularly fancy about this house. It's one of many classic American four squares we have in the neighborhood. But I like it's austerity. You can't really tell in this painting but it's white stucco. I love the light that shines on it in the morning, too. The soft glow of the morning sun gives it a kind of weathered luster.

I wasn't sure if I would post this piece, as the composition is so dead on and simple. I actually imagined I would zoom out a bit more on this composition, but just having a small shop light on my work space,  I had to work very close in to see what the heck I was doing. That's the way with nocturnes; you never truly know what you're going to get until you bring it into the light of day! Nevertheless, it's grown on me, so I decided to share it here.

p.s. Almost finished with the large painting of the Hatteras Dunes. Progress shots and (hopefully) the final to come soon.

Post- Paint Annapolis

Sorry to say, my blog has suffered a bit from benign neglect since I left for my travels a few weeks ago. Rain and 30 mile/hr wind consumed most of our beach vacation, so while it was still beautiful, there was no chance of painting boats or coastal motifs before the Paint Annapolis competition that followed just a week later. Paint Annapolis itself was fun and enlightening, but since I am still dealing with shoulder tendinitis and pain, it was physically stressful and pretty exhausting. For the first two days, it seemed that I had brought the crappy weather I'd had at the beach right along with me up to the Annapolis event. The weather did turn beautiful during the last portion, but I think I kind of "blew myself out" trying to get something interesting down early on while the weather was gray and the light exceedingly flat.

The previous paragraph makes it sound like I didn't enjoy myself at all, but that was not the case! In fact, while I didn't come home with any prizes, I still received a lot of reward. My early struggles notwithstanding, the city of Annapolis is charming. I had a lovely host for the event, and everyone I encountered in the event organization, and even in the town at large, was warm and friendly. AND I'm delighted to say that I sold a study right from the easel!  :-)  I also found myself among some incredibly talented painters and it was truly inspiring to see so much fine work being produced by my contemporaries. Almost all of the artists were friendly, uplifting, and inclusive, making the atmosphere feel more like a (highly motivated) community than a competition.  So much so, in fact, that by the time it was all over with, in spite of my exhaustion, I was actually sad to see it end.

plein air oil painting of Annapolis, MD, by Jennifer Young

"A Banner Day", Oil on linen, 12x12"

As a painter, I also I learned a lot. I learned that if it isn't happening, don't force it. I learned that if the light is truly uninteresting, you're better off sleeping in a day or two and staying up at night to paint nocturnes!  I learned that in the overwhelm of an unfamiliar environment, I'd be much better off painting simple studies successfully than failing at capturing a very complicated scene. I learned that even in the anxiety of knowing you only have 3 days to paint,  you really do have to pace yourself, take care of yourself, be kind to yourself, and give your mind and body enough time to rest and relax. And I learned that all of the things I thought I knew can so easily fall by the wayside in this thing called "competition".

As is usually the case with me, I learned much of this more through error than through trial. In a way, the lessons I learned at the competition are only larger-than-life versions of the lessons I learn all the time through the act of plein air painting. These paintings can be like mini thrills-of-victory or agonies-of-defeat, though often they fall somewhere in between. Much is made of the victories (and with good reason) but for the painter who is fortunate enough to recognize it, they all hold value. The value lies in what you take away from it.

p.s. The painting posted was painted during the sunny portion of the event. It's from the quick draw called "Dueling Brushes". Please contact me for purchase inquiries. I posted about this event also last year and you can read my account here.

Merry Christmas

Like so many others today, I'm wrapping up loose packages and getting ready for Christmas Eve dinner. So for now I'll leave you with this year's Christmas card, which is derived from one of my fondest painting experiences of 2008. Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a bright and beautiful 2009!

xmas08_2.jpg

A good day in Annapolis

My first full day in Annapolis had a slow start, but in the end I got two and a half, maybe three little pieces done. I say *maybe* three, because the last one was just as the sun was setting over the town and night fell before I could really asess the work. But I'm jumping ahead. Annapolis is a charming little town, and the weather has been ideal. As lovely as the day began, I spent a good deal of time this morning wandering around with my gear in tow. For some reason I couldn't decide what to paint. Maybe I was overloaded by too much stimuli. Or maybe I was a little road weary...who knows? In any event, eventually I did settle down, and started with a street scene of  a sweet little church on the south side of Annapolis, in the sectoin of town called Eastport:

plein air painting annapolis street scene

"Morning in  Eastport" Oil on Board 8"x6" ©Jennifer Young

Because of my late start, it was approaching lunchtime when I finished. So I thought it would be a good time to take a break and check out the rest of the Paint Annapolis event before I set up for another painting.  I was a little disappointed that I didn't see more painters out and about. I know they were there, but they must have been pretty well spread around Annapolis because I only came across a few the whole day. I imagine many of the juried artists were off on some quiet street somewhere away from the tourists so they could get some serious painting done. As for the others in the MAPAPA, most were nowhere to be seen; even though by the looks of the sign-in sheet, I know they had "checked in" at the information center.

I am hopeful that I'll run into more painters tomorrow. But for today, rather than drag my gear around endlessly for blocks on end, I abandoned my search and decided to set up for another painting. The light was getting really lovely and I found a nice, shady, quiet spot at the end of Shipright Street:

annapolis coastal painting en plein air

"Harbor View, Annapolis (Shipright Street)" Oil on board 9x12" (SOLD) ©Jennifer Young

This photo really washes out my sky, but it was turning that lovely warm tone of late afternoon, and the clouds were taking on a beautiful soft pink glow. Until I can get this painting home to adjust the colors and edit out the little knobs of the canvas holders from my easel, you'll just have to use your imagination! This little scene shows the view looking out towards a little harbor on Spa Creek, and the red drawbridge that connects the historic center with the small maritime republic of Eastport. The historic center is lovely, but I rather prefer crossing the bridge to quieter section of Eastport. There is much to attract-- the quiet, charming streets and all of the smaller harbors that allow many lovely views of the water.

With painting #2 complete, I thought I was done for the day. So I packed up to head back to the hotel. But on my way back to the parking lot, I was struck by the last pink light of the setting sun over the historic town. I whipped out another canvas and started what I thought was to be a small sunset painting. However, the sky changed soooo quickly that soon I was painting a nocturne. Even though my canvas was small, (8x8") it soon became impossible to see anything in the dark as I had no street light nearby to help me in my task. It will be like looking into a Christmas stocking tomorrow morning when I go to the car to take a look at the painting in the daylight. Even so, I may yet pull out a lump of coal. We will have to see!

Le Nocturne Francais

I have always loved nocturnes, so it was a real thrill to paint one under a full moon in a beautiful French country village. This little painting was done right in the neighborhood of our home base at Le Vieux Couvent:

"Le Nocturne Francais" Oil on Multimedia Artboard, 6x8" ©Jennifer Young

"Le Nocturne Francais" Oil on Multimedia Artboard, 6x8" ©Jennifer Young

This painting came about one evening after a full day of touring and painting in the Dordogne countryside, AND after a huge and delicious five course dinner. We were all winding down for the night and Mary, our fearless leader, came in from an after dinner walk she had taken with her husband. They had gone out to find a lovely evening scene just up the street, lit by a street lamp and a full moon. She was going to go painting, she said, and anyone who wanted to join her was also welcome. Well, as tired as I was, I couldn't resist, and neither could most of the other painters. "We're in France! We can sleep later," became the mantra of our time together.

Knowing how quickly things change in the night sky, I took a small surface with me and set up under a nearby streetlamp. While the fog painting posted earlier was a high-key close value painting, this was a close value low-key one. We really couldn't see our colors at all, so it is indeed a good practice to place paint colors habitually in the same positions on the palette!

Gradually my eyes adjusted somewhat, so I just concentrated on shape and subtle differences. After I got the large dark shapes down, the night sky and the window light were the first things I addressed. It was a good thing, as not very long after, the clouds had drifted completely away, and the homeowner had called it a night and turned off the light.