A new start in 2017

Happy New Year everyone! Yes I know that's a bit late, but we are trying hard to shake off the fun and lazy days of winter break and get back in the routine of waking up early to report to work and school. Since my daughter was home on break, I gave up on the idea that I'd get any real work done and took that time off leading up to Christmas to devote to family. As much as I love painting, I had such a sweet time hanging with my daughter.

Nevertheless, there is a time and a season, and now I'm back to work and it's time for some art! We are settling into winter in Virginia, and it's prime time for hibernating and lot more work in the studio. I have done a lot of small works this past summer and fall, so I'm upping the scale for a while inside.  I'm starting out by picking back up with the James River Park theme.  This is a 24x30" piece of the section of the park known as Pony Pasture. I painted a small piece at roughly the same location in the fall, though this new view is what I saw when I turned my head to the left.

jamesriver_wip1_jenniferyoung

I like this idea of peeking out at the river through the trees. We will see if what I have in my mind can be successfully executed on canvas.

jamesriver_wip2_jenniferyoung
jenniferyoung_wip_jenniferyoung

One of my favorite things about locations along the river banks are the trees. Years of the water's ebb and flow at the river's edge has left many of the tree roots bare. Roots stretch out like tentacles clutching the land, and yet these large trees manage to hang on.

Winter Walk

Though I've been working on this painting for the past week, today seemed a good day to post about it. Outside it is a cold, slushy mess here in Ashland VA. It's a good day to sit by the fire sipping tea and reading art books--unless, of course,  you happen to live with a five year old. Then it's all snow angels, snow men, and snowball fights, until finally thawing out with hot cocoa. But there is something pretty magical about seeing the snowfall through the eyes of a child, and even a mere dusting must be thoroughly explored and exploited.

This painting was inspired by our very first snowfall in Ashland. My niece happened to be here visiting and she and my little daughter created some nice interest for the wintry setting I'm featuring here, which is located in the park that sits just behind our house.

I had a beast of a time photographing this painting for accurate color, and I didn't bother to do any color correction on the sequence of progress shots above. The colors are pretty accurate in the final shot of the painting below, however. It was a really fun and different painting for me, and I enjoyed all of the soft edges and the subtle color palette employed to create the mood.

"Winter Walk", Oil on linen, 20x24",  ©Jennifer E Young

"Winter Walk", Oil on linen, 20x24",  ©Jennifer E Young

This week on the easel: Val d'Orcia W.I.P.

Just a quick post to share what is in progress on the easel this week: My studio time (which includes painting, but also varnishing and framing, website updates, emails, blogging, photography, sales/marketing, office work, etc.) is now limited to a few hours every other weekday. Painting takes precidence, but every now and then I really must play catch-up with "everything else". So it was with Monday, and I only had time to do the layout in sepia:

Tuscany landscape painting in progress by Jennifer Young

Upon my return to the easel, I tackeled the block-in (first pass) which is still mainly shadows and midtones:

tuscany landscape painting in progress by jennifer young

Time ran out before I was able to get to the hilltop buildings, but I was happy to have covered the rest of this 24x30" canvas in about 3 1/2 hours. Because I can't always get back to an "open" painting, I at least want to return to a canvas that is brought to the same level of completion in all areas.

This is a view I have painted before (a number of years ago) and I am returning to it now to see if I can use a looser approach. There is quite a bit of information in this scene, and my aim is to relay a feeling of the variety in the landscape of Tuscany, but in a more unified, simplified manner, without articulating everything in minute detail.

Rooftops, St. Cirq Lapopie (final)

I've been struggling with a killer cold or allergy or something for over a week now, so it's really thrown me for a loop in the studio. But I have now finished the French village painting I have been blogging about in my last couple of posts (here and here). I did not have a chance to take any more progression shots due to the amount of time I lost, so my apologies to those who were following the progression of the work-in-progress.

"Rooftops, St. Cirq Lapopie" Oil on Linen, 30x24" (SOLD) ©Jennifer Young

"Rooftops, St. Cirq Lapopie" Oil on Linen, 30x24" (SOLD) ©Jennifer Young

There was a certain quality of light I was after in this painting...a slight haziness that comes on a warm day when the sun begins to filter through the clouds after a soft rain (the weather when I visited there could best be described as "changeable"!) So there are a soft edges and close values to tackle, especially in the middle and far distance.

St. Cirq Lapopie is a fortressed village dating back to the Middle Ages. Sitting high above the Lot River, it is, as I mentioned in my prior post, dripping with so much charm that it really does invoke fairy tales of knights and damsels in distress!Narrow cobbled streets wind their way through cliff-sides, leading up to a fortressed peak that allows stunning views of the steep tiled rooftops and the Lot valley.

St. Cirq Rooftops WIP (cont'd)

As it turned out, there was too much weather and too little opportunity to do any plein air painting last week. But I have been plugging away at my studio painting of St. Cirq La Popie. The images below show my continued progress thus far. Laying in my lightest passages, I worked on the sky and distant cliffs and ruins first. Next, I started on my rooftops. In this region, I noticed that there were a lot of gray-blue undertones along with the terra cotta-tiled rooftops, so I experimented with laying in a gray base to start. I am not really sure if doing so helped me or hindered me, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

France landscape painting in progress by Jennifer Young
St. Cirq Lapopie
France landscape painting in progress by Jennifer Young
France landscape oil painting by Jennifer Young

At this point, I need to refine, work on the garden, and bring out my highlights, so this is what I'll be working on today. This painting is all angles and not much actual landscape, so my progress has been a little slow going at times. Nevertheless, the composition and the concept interest me. I do miss plein air painting, but I have decided I need to make the most of being studio-bound by experimenting, working on new challenges, and working out some new ideas.