Outer Banks love affair

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. 

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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. 

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!) :-)

Just Out Back

Yesterday after I sent my little one off to her new adventures as a kindergartener, I decided I'd better become acquainted with my new plein air box in advance of an upcoming painting trip I will be taking. Yes , play the funeral march. My Soltek finally died.  Actually, it's now a studio easel. I might be able to resuscitate it next time I have extra cash lying around to send it off for a "tune-up", but the legs seized up after my beach trips and no amount of squirting them out with a hose has made them functional again.

Enter the Coulter paint box. I had heard a lot of really good things about the design of this box and after much deliberating between it and several other really good boxes, I decided to pull the trigger and go for this one. So far I really like it. I need to paint with it a bit more before I feel qualified to review it, but I plan to at some future point when it has a bit more mileage.

Given that I wasn't all that familiar with my new setup, I thought I'd take it easy on myself and paint a simple painting on our own property:

"Just Out Back" Oil on linen, 12x12"©Jennifer Young

"Just Out Back" Oil on linen, 12x12"©Jennifer Young

Turns out this was actually a complicated little composition, but I stuck with it and felt happy with the way it was resolved. Sometimes the challenge is to make something interesting out of where you are, instead of finding the exact perfect subject matter.  I liked the light on that little shed, and the shadows created by that crazy basket thing hanging on the side that was left here by the previous owners. And after all, when it comes to plein air painting, it's all about the light.