From winter to summer, in one post!

It is good to be back to painting again. It has felt like such a long time since I have been able to stand at the easel and wipe all the cares away and just focus on art. Maybe for this reason, this painting came together fairly fluidly. This piece was inspired by a challenge from Gallery Flux, to create works for their upcoming show all about SNOW! So I thought I would experiment with a few different compositions in this theme in hopes that I'd have some good candidates to offer up for the show, and oh what fun it was! I painted from reference photos I took last winter in my neighborhood, which has its share of beautiful stately and Victorian homes.

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

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

And now that I have you hankering for some hot chocolate, I carry you back to summer again, with a new online auction. This plein air painting is a little larger than my prior auction listings; it's an 8x10" piece on linen-mounted MDF panel, with an opening bid of just $200. I painted this little gazebo on the dunes just in front of the beach house where my family has been staying the last several summers in Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I love the way the light hits the dunes right around dinner time, when the sun gets lower and the shadows get nice and long.

"Dune Shadows" Oil on linen, 8x10".  SOLD !

"Dune Shadows" Oil on linen, 8x10". SOLD!

Island Mystique

Some of the most romantic and beautiful moments of my Vinalhaven, Maine residency were when I awoke to see the island enveloped in mysterious fog. Attempting to paint that fog from life, however, takes actual work and perseverance. The shifting atmospheric effects on the land and the oh so subtle value ranges require astute concentration and alertness in the midst of the peaceful stillness. 

Not too far from where I was staying sat a lovely field of wildflowers fronting some wetlands. Purple-violet lupines, as beautiful as any hothouse flower, grow wild throughout the region in spring, as do buttercups, pink clover, daisies, Queen Anne's lace, and numerous other beauties I wasn't able to name. 

"Lupines in the Mist", Oil on linen, 11x14" (SOLD) ©Jennifer E Young

"Lupines in the Mist", Oil on linen, 11x14" (SOLD) ©Jennifer E Young

My 11x14" plein air piece (above) found its home on the island, but I wanted to return to that experience back in the studio while my memory of it was still fresh.  I painted the larger version with a slightly different angle to include the hint of wetlands in the background in order to give it a better sense of place. Click through on the image below for more info.

Intertwined

Mother nature surprises again! By the 2nd week of February we were head-on into spring. The robins were back at least a month early, the fruit trees had all started blooming, and temperatures went has high as the low eighties. Now here we are in the "Ides of March" and in comes the ice and freezing rain, school closings, and the reintroduction of turtleneck sweaters.

I did manage to get down to the river a couple of times during that February thaw, though in both instances I came away with nothing but wipers. However, those "failures" provided fuel for the studio piece below, so all was not lost.  

"Intertwined", Oil on linen, 16x20" Jennifer E Young

"Intertwined", Oil on linen, 16x20" Jennifer E Young

There still wasn't much color in the landscape when I was working on this piece, though the river and sky provided a nice cool counterbalance to the warmth of the earth toned trees in the foreground. As for the drawing and the overall light in the painting I would say this studio piece achieved a level of success and finish that the plein air pieces didn't. Still it was the plein air experience that helped to inform that light and shadow, so in that sense those exercises were essential. 

Speaking of studio work, I am doing just that...working on my new studio space! :-) After a lot of soul searching and agonizing over our budget, we decided to table the idea of building a separate studio on our property. Instead I will be taking over our 20x20' attached garage and installing some doors and windows where our garage doors sit currently. I'll keep my office in an adjacent room in the house, so the garage will be dedicated to just the art studio. I actually think this arrangement will be quite helpful in that when I enter my art space there wont be the distraction of my email and computer.  This setup won't be as fancy as the last studio I had, but I think it will function just fine for my purposes, and will be a far sight better than the tiny dark room I have been painting in for the past 5 or 6 months. 

Unfortunately the garage had kind of become the catch-all for overflow storage items, so it's going to take some time to sort through and clear out everything and make some kind of order and dedicated workspace. But in spite of the storm, the windows were installed yesterday and the doors are scheduled to be installed today! This will be followed by electrical, heat, and a bit of carpentry and painting to finish things off. Hopefully by May I'll be fully in, and oh what a happy day that will be. I will be sure to post some updates as things progress.

Woodland Spirits

In troubled times, I seek solace in nature. I crave the woods, the water in all forms, sounds of the wild and the quietude. These are indeed troubled times. I don't often write about politics or world events on my website dedicated to art, but I can no longer look at nature, my child, my work or my relationships without worry. The world I have known, with all its flaws, had some sense of stability for me. Now, though I don't know what to expect, I find myself fearing the worst. Maybe the better nature in us all will rise and simply rid itself of the superfluous, like a tree self-pruning its dead limbs. Or maybe all of this mayhem is insignificant in the grander scheme of things--just a part of life's ebb and flow. Whatever happens, I will try to steady myself in nature. Fleeting as it now seems to be, there is a power in it. A steadfast knowing...a spirit that can't be broken. 

"Woodland Spirits," Oil on linen, 24x24" Jennifer E Young

"Woodland Spirits," Oil on linen, 24x24" Jennifer E Young

In Harmony

Last week as I was working on my latest James River painting, I ran into a little conudrum. So I decided to put the question out to my followers on my Facebook page to get some feedback. First, here's a few shots of the painting's progression.

The foreground was definitely what was holding most of my attention. Those roots and the light spilling over on the trees, was where it was at. That's fine, but my worry was that once the eye was finished there, it would exit the painting rather too quickly. So I experimented by adding a couple of birds in the middle distance, perhaps as a way to rest the eye before taking flight. I liked the idea, but I was a little worried that an additional element would split the focus or detract from the foreground too much. 

I knew which way I was leaning, but I thought it would be fun to put the question out there in Facebook land. The overwhelming feedback was YES to birds. So birds it is...simple ones, just shapes, really. It's been raining for days, so it's been really difficult to get a good shot of the completed painting, but finally, here it is!

"In Harmony" Oil on linen, 24x30" ©Jennifer E Young

"In Harmony" Oil on linen, 24x30" ©Jennifer E Young

This is another painting of the James River's Pony Pasture. I've done a couple of other small plein air studies of this exact view in the past, and have always wanted to do a larger one. I'm not sure why it took me so long to get around to it, but I'm glad I finally did. You can see more info, plus a couple of detail shots of the painting by clicking on the final image above.