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:

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

Irons in the Fire

It's been a busy week here at the Young/Webb household and I have lots of irons in the fire. I've been hustling this week to provide work for an interior design project, as well as finalizing a commission and framing and shipping for the upcoming Coral Bay Club show at City Art Gallery in Greenville, NC. (One of the paintings I'm sending is featured below.)

"Sunny Provence", Oil on linen, 12x12" ©Jennifer E Young

"Sunny Provence", Oil on linen, 12x12" ©Jennifer E Young

In addition, my most exciting news of the week is that we are in the drawing/planning stage of building a new art studio on our Ashland property! Hurrah! After operating my art business out of closets and storage sheds and the garage, plus a small rented work space, it will be so, SO nice to have all of my art stuff under one roof!

Right now the plan is to start breaking ground in August, but if you've ever had anything built, you know how that goes. Meanwhile I have to get all of my ducks in a row to identify and order fixtures, figure out the flooring and lighting, windows, etc. etc. So today is a bit of a #TBT as I find myself mining my own research, beginning with the all-important question of studio lighting. This post, written at the inception of my last studio build, is a good starting point for consideration, though I have a few more options to throw in the mix this time around. 

Back in the day I had a lot more time on my hands than I do currently, so I doubt I will be able to journal in a manner that is quite so in-depth. But rest assured I will be just as obsessed inside, and  I will be sure to post as best I can about the progress as things unfold.

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!) :-)