More Plein Air to Studio

Last week I continued my quest to mine some of my favorite plein air paintings for larger studio pieces.  The inspiration piece was a little 9x12" Plein air painting I did in the spring down at Maymont Park in Richmond, VA:

"Spring Renewal", Oil on panel, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young

"Spring Renewal", Oil on panel, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young

I really wanted to keep the same freshness in the larger 24x30" painting, so aside from referencing my photos for some of the branch formations, I used my Plein air piece as my main reference. Here is my setup, with the large and small side by side: 

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If it appears that I'm using a toned canvas, it is because I am painting on one that was a false start for a painting that turned into a wiper. I will often reuse canvases as long as there is just a thin, non-textured base. Anything with too much of a texture is distracting to me and can sometimes create adhesion issues. There is a good deal of impasto (thick paint)  passages on this canvas. Here is a detail in progress:

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And finally, here is the completed studio painting:

"Renewal", Oil on linen, 24x30" ©Jennifer E Young

"Renewal", Oil on linen, 24x30" ©Jennifer E Young

Spring in my step

What a difference a week makes. Last week the earth was still pretty brown and bare in our neck of the woods, but this week heralded in some lovely warm springlike weather. And with that came the flowers. Cherry blossoms and spring blooming magnolias seemed to open up over night, along with the daffodils and forsythia. I always feel such a great sense of hope and renewal in the springtime.

Tuesday is one of my two "long days" that I have to work, so I readied myself Monday night for my plein air outing. I decided that since this was my first plein air painting in a while, I should kick off with a known quantity. So I paid a visit to Maymont Park. This would prevent me from wasting time driving around looking for the perfect spot, as I had visited the week prior with my daughter and knew exactly where I wanted to set up. 

"Spring Renewal", Oil on Panel, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young

"Spring Renewal", Oil on Panel, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young

Just one week earlier, I had brought my daughter to this beautiful park, and at the blooms were still pretty new. I was hoping against hope they would endure, and luckily I wasn't disappointed. Here's a shot of my work setting for the morning. Not a bad way to punch the time card, eh?

My plein air painting in process

My plein air painting in process

I retired the Soltek last summer after a trip to the beach kind of did it in. These days I'm really enjoying my Coulter Easel. It's fast, easy and sturdy. Here's my setup:

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I've had a piece of Plexiglas cut to fit in the palette area. The brush holder is an envelope style with a little loop on the top, allowing me to loop it over the handle of my tripod and tuck into the back of the palette. The little jars are holding my oil and solvent free medium. You can't really see it in this picture, but those two clips on the left wing of the palette hold a mesh basket that I picked up in the $1 - $3 bin at Target. It has pockets around the perimeter suitable for holding the tubes of paint I reach for most often. I prefer this basket over a plastic bag for my dirty paper towels because it stays open. Also, it doesn't blow around in the wind. 

I've only had this easel since the fall and it's already smeared with paint. I'm a slob; it's a problem. In any event, I look forward to smearing it up even more this spring!

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.

A Splash of Light on Howard Street

Aside from painting on my back patio, I really haven't done much plein air painting in my new town. Now that the heat seems to be letting up, I am aiming to change that. Here's a start. I see this scene during my morning walk/runs and have admired the fall of light as it spills across the shrubbery, taking center stage as the old Victorian sits austerely in the background.

"A Splash of Light on Howard Street", Oil on linen, 10x10"  ©Jennifer E Young

"A Splash of Light on Howard Street", Oil on linen, 10x10"  ©Jennifer E Young