Floyd Plein Air (In Retrospect)

In addition to my travel up to Maine in June, I participated in two plein air festivals this summer. This was the first summer I have done this many "away" events in a long time but now that my daughter is getting a little older I felt like the time was right to give them a shot. The first was Floyd Plein Air, which took place in and around Floyd, Virginia in August. I had fully intended to live blog during this event, but I had zero internet or GPS anywhere in Floyd (not a great look for me, but somehow I survived ;-) ) I participated in the inaugural event for this festival a couple of years ago, under the name of "Plein Air Crush". This time around the festival was extended from a long weekend to an entire week. The weather was much better this time, which meant my paintings weren't covered in a layer of fine dirt like they were the first time around. Floyd is was a truly scenic venue for a plein air event, organized by the Floyd Center for the Arts.  I met a lot of very fine painters during the event, but I found it to be equal parts congenial and competitive. Congenial because I really admired and respected the participating artists who took part in the event, but competitive because there was definitely a competition aspect (judges and awards given) which always adds a layer of stress ( at least for me) to the experience.

Nevertheless the event was a fun fledgling festival, and I had the chance to paint some beautiful scenery for an entire week, which culminated in a show at the Floyd Center for the Arts. Here are a few of my pieces painted during the festival:

Upcoming show, demo, and more

Too many irons in the fire makes Jen a lame blogger. However, I hope you'll still welcome this post and the news I have to share. First off, I announced some of this in my last newsletter, but if you don't subscribe to that, I'm pleased to announce that I have been invited to be the Featured Artist at Cabell Gallery in Lexington, Virginia. The gallery will hold an opening reception from 5:00 - 7:30 PM, this Friday, June 2nd. I will be in attendance, and it would be so, so great to see some friendly faces there. Here is one of the new pieces I just brought down there for the show:

"The Nubians", Oil on linen, 16x12" ©Jennifer E Young

"The Nubians", Oil on linen, 16x12" ©Jennifer E Young

If I happen to miss you at the art opening on Friday, I'll also be painting alongside other Gallery Flux artists on Sunday during the Rassawek Spring Jubilee at Rassawek Vineyards. I painted with Gallery Flux during this event last year and it was loads of fun. They'll have music, food, a variety of demonstrations from animals to art, and of course, wine! The event runs throughout the weekend, but I will be there on Sunday, June 4th, at 11 a.m. Here are a couple of pieces I did at last year's event. Come by and see them at the Gallery Flux display, plus whatever else I create at the event this year.

Lastly, the garage conversion is done and I am finally moving into my permanent studio space. It's been quite a process and I admit pretty stressful trying to get ready for a show with no real studio space to work in, but Hallelujah! It's all a thing of the past now. I did not post progress pictures as promised because I was too overwhelmed with everything that's been going on, but I'll have some images of the final space to share by next week if not before.

Painting Pippin Hill Farm

Last spring I had the good fortune to take a day tour with friends along Virginia's Monticello Wine trail. There are so many pretty vineyards tucked into the valleys of this part of the Blue Ridge, that it's really difficult to pick a favorite. But Pippin Hill Farm definitely hovers around the top of my list. The winery is located in Albemarle County, about an hour and a half from where I live.  

The winery itself is dreamy, with landscaped walkways leading to a beautiful tasting room and restaurant. But the real kicker is the landscaped terrace and the surrounding 360 degree breathtaking views of the countryside. While the surrounding gardens were quite lovely, I'm always a sucker for fields of wildflowers. Throw in some vineyards, mountains and good wine and I'm in heaven!

"Cloud Dance, Pippin Hill Winery" Oil on linen, 30x40", ©Jennifer E Young

"Cloud Dance, Pippin Hill Winery" Oil on linen, 30x40", ©Jennifer E Young

The winery is just far enough away from me that a spur of the moment painting excursion (ideally followed by a sip and a snack ;-) ) is out for me. On the weekdays I generally paint at or relatively near home to be here for the kiddo when she gets out of school. But I really need to plan a visit again soon as it is definitely worth the effort. Given how pretty it was in the warmer months, I 'm curious to know what it's like in the fall.

Rassawek Vineyard (plein air to studio)

There have been a number of occasions where my plein air paintings get stashed away for a while, only to be discovered when I can't stand the mess of my studio space any longer and (finally!) decide to instill some order. Such was the case with this little plein air study I did this past May at Rassawek Vineyard during its annual Spring Jubilee:

"Rassawek Vineyard, Study", oil on panel, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young

"Rassawek Vineyard, Study", oil on panel, 9x12" ©Jennifer E Young

It was a challenging session, as I recall, because those clouds kept morphing and changing the light and becoming more ominous as time advanced. In fact, I had to close up before I intended, in order to make a dash for my car before the sky opened up (and indeed, it WAS just in time.)

Nevertheless, there was something nice about this that I wanted to explore further, as it was such a lovely setting. For the larger painting I was planning however, I wanted to zoom out a bit to show the expansiveness of the landscape. So I searched my photo archives to see if I could find the view I had in mind. Voila! I found what I was looking for, which also  included the roses marking the end of each row on the vineyard, (something I failed to note in the study.) I didn't get any progress shots of this painting because it has (ironically) been raining non-stop here for over a week, making the lighting insufficient for photography. In any event, I took a shot of the final studio piece outside during an all-too-brief pause in the rainfall.

"Rassawek Vineyard", Oil on linen, 30x40". ©Jennifer E Young

"Rassawek Vineyard", Oil on linen, 30x40". ©Jennifer E Young

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!) :-)