The Third Tee

Last week I finally got out to do a little plein air painting again. Since the leaves were pretty much at their peak, I decided to try a new location that would really feature the fall foliage. This is the golf course at the JLCC, where we have a pool membership:

Plein air painting with fall foliage by Jennifer E Young"The Third Tee" Oil on Birch Panel, 8x10 SOLD

I am not a golfer, but I am told it is the 3rd Tee. We would often looked down at this lovely view in the summer while having a light dinner by the kiddie pool. It's a great dining spot in the good weather. We get to relax and take in this great view at sunset, while our daughter splashes around and plays.

It was fun to return in a different season, with a different vibe altogether (very peaceful!) This pond actually backs up to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, where I've also frequented for local plein air excursions. So along with the occasional golfer, there were plenty of water fowl and songbirds to keep me company.

October Maples

When I woke up the other morning it was so stunning outside that I decided to leave the studio for a bit and do some plein air painting in my Bellevue neighborhood. Dave and I passed these gorgeous maples on Newport Drive during our walk in the 'hood the previous evening and I made a mental note to check them out again in the morning :

autumn plein air painting Richmond VA by Jennifer Young

"October Maples" Oil on Linen, 9x12" For more information, contact me!

This is not the greatest of photos, so I will try and re-shoot this tomorrow morning when the lighting is better.  There are some areas where I might've wanted more refinement, but I am going to sit with this a bit and see how I feel about it when I can look at it with fresh eyes.

One thing I realized from the timed exercise I mentioned in my previous post was just how long my plein air paintings look like absolutely nothing. In fact, a common occurrence with me lately is the feeling of a sinking heart as I look at the confusing mess that is my painting and wonder if I might be better off just scrapping the whole thing. Bleh!

But then I'll think something like, "Just work on it a little more and then you can quit if you want to." Only a few strokes later (if they are good strokes) I find myself excited again and some logic begins to emerge.  It's almost as if something switches in my brain (on or off? I don't know.)  Maybe I just let go of the outcome and relax enough that somehow I can see the scene before me not as an overload of "things", but as a rhythmic pattern of lights and darks, colors and shapes.

This is not to say that there aren't areas for inprovement in this painting. But at least I managed to get the impression of place down, which, based on how the painting progressed in the earlier stage, was quite a surpise to me.  I guess the moral of that story is not to give up too soon. Some paintings are indeed "false starts" and probably just doomed to fail. But then there are those that have potential and a solid start and just require more patience and relaxed focus. Bargain with yourself to just stick it out a little longer and see what happens. By doing so, you often have little to lose and much to gain.

Golden Hour on the James River

Miracle of miracles, I actually painted something this week. I decided to stave off the moving insanity by paying a restorative visit to Brown's Island for a little plein air painting on the James River:

 Plein air painting James River Richmond VA

"The Golden Hour" Oil on Multimedia ArtBoard, 9x12" Click here for details.

Brown's Island is not too far from my current downtown studio, and painting there the other evening really made me appreciate anew what a uniquely beautiful  wildlife refuge we have running right through the heart of our city. Just down stream, cranes and geese were resting and fishing on the rocks, creating an interesting counterpoint to the cars zooming across the nearby Lee Bridge and the train trestles that loomed directly over my head.

Remnants of old pilings and bridge footings (like the ones shown to the right of the foreground trees in my painting) also served to remind me that this location was the industrial heart of Richmond's recent past.  Today Brown's Island is a lovely part of the James River Park system that feels both wild and urban at once. It's also a popular venue for outdoor concerts and festivals like the upcoming Richmond Folk Festival. (Reminder Richmonders--the festival is this weekend! Tents are already being raised and lots of work is being done in preparation, so don't forget to come out and support this event!)

As for the painting, I painted this scene in the late afternoon/early evening time frame. When I started I didn't notice the bits of red that were in the trees. It wasn't until the sun got a little lower and lit up the trees just so that the brilliant burst of autumn reds revealed themselves. That's one of the joys of plein air painting--these kinds of little miracles unfold before your eyes as you witness the evolutionary effects of light in nature. In these days when I seem to be going a mile a minute, I'm all the more appreciative of the experience.

Bellevue Bungalows

The autumn leaves are about finished now, but I thought I'd share this little plein air painting I did in my Richmond neighborhood of Bellevue just a couple of weeks ago. One thing I love about Bellevue is the architecture. And while the bungalows are usually modest looking structures, they hold so much charm for me.

plein air painting autumn by Jennifer Young

"Bellevue Bungalows" Oil on Canvas 6x8" sold

Their low profiles are dwarfed by the Virginia trees, and there is something immediately happy, unassuming, sunny, laid back, and fabulously unpretentious about them. In the end, when we were looking in the area for a home,  we ended up buying not a bungalow, but a "cottage" (perhaps the bungalow's big-boned cousin?) Artist=spacehog.

But I still enjoy these little structures on my evening walks. I enjoy looking at them and their gardens- plain to fancy; sometimes wild, sometimes very manicured. These little houses give me the same feeling as do the cottages of Cape Cod, the shotguns in New Orleans, or especially the Conch Houses of Key West... Breezy, laid back, traditional and yet wonderfully free of tradition. Plain, simple, and calling out, "Home."

A few gallery snaps from the "Small Stuff" show

Don't let anyone tell you that hanging a show for a bunch of small works is an easy task. But after it was all in place, we were very happy with the results, and I'm glad to report that my husband and I are still married. ;-) Here are a few shots from the show, on view now through Jan. 30th: When we were looking at this space for the gallery, one of the first things I noticed was this cute built-in. It's a perfect display for my minis and my new line of watercolor/pen and inks. Here I've decorated it with some lights and mistle toe:

miniature landscape paintings

A close-up that shows some of the ornaments--I like the little silver and gold Christmas balls along the bottom shelf:

miniature landscape paintings in a group

On the opposite wall are the landscape paintings of Venice and Lake Como:

landscape paintings of Venice and Lake Como

Close-up shot of the mantlepiece decorated with paintings. To the left of the large Venetian landscape are a series of little square 6x6" Lake Como paintings. Anyone who has read my blog for a while, or my squidoo lens on hanging art must know I'm a fan of grouping big and small paintings together like this. I'd love to do something similar over my fireplace mantle at home.

paintings of Lake Como and Venice

A small grouping from the next room of some of my more local autumn scenes:

paintings of autumn landscapes by Jennifer Young

I  guess that's really all I had time for, photography-wise. I may share a few more snaps and I will definitely share more info on some of the individual pieces in the show very soon.

"The Golden Pair", plein air painting

It was so windy on Friday that painting outside was a real hazard. So I painted in my car, instead! This little vignette is of a scene along Foushee Street, right near my downtown studio in Richmond, VA. 

autumn plein air painting street scene richmond va 

"The Golden Pair" Oil on canvas mounted on hardboard, 5x7"

Painting in the car has its own hazards, I must say. I'm used to stepping back to see my painting from a distance, and there was none of that. It was pretty confining too, so I had to be careful where I was pointing those brushes! But, any way, I guess it beats having my painting and all my gear slamming against the pavement.

This painting is in the "Vignettes" section of my website and may be purchased online. For more info about this piece, please click on the image or contact me!

"Autumn in Bellevue" plein air landscape painting

Today is gray and rainy, but yesterday started out as a spectacular sunny morning. So I took the opportunity to paint this little street scene in my neighborhood:

Autumn landscape painting street scene

"Autumn in Bellevue" Oil on Canvas, 7x5"

 I have always admired this cute little yellow bungalo on our evening walks, and it fit right in with the blazing fall colors that lined the intersecting street.  This has to be one of the prettiest falls I've seen in a while in the city of Richmond. Over the next days I hope to paint as many plein air paintings as I can before the wind carries the foliage away.

Please click the image or contact me for more info.

New painting details uploaded to the website

It took me a while but I finally got around to uploading some of the plein air paintings I've blogged about in recent months:

Maryland Eastern shore plein air painting tilghman island  Eastern shore landscape painting St Michaels Maryland  autumn plein air painting fall colors

Details and purchasing info for these smaller paintings  of the Eastern Shore of Maryland are in my gallery of Mini Paintings, as is the recent little autumn scene. In another section of my website, I've uploaded these two Eastern Shore plein air paintings in my gallery of water-related scenes: 

plein air painting of oxford maryland eastern shore harbor  plein air painting tugboat st michaels maryland eastern shore

 And finally, I mentioned yesterday that I was considering doing a touch more to the little lavender watercolor. Well, I didn't do much but I couldn't resist a tweak, and you can see the final image in the Vignettes section of my website. As with my other Vignettes, this one  may be purchased online  via Paypal. Update: This painting has sold!

Now that I'm getting caught up, I have some new work to upload...stay tuned!

Plein air painting; "Falling leaves on Wilmington Ave."

It's been a wet couple of days here in Richmond, so I'm glad I went out eariler in the week to paint some of the autumn colors in my Northside neighborhood. This little fall street scene vignette was done on location not too far from where I live:

Autumn landscape street scene by Jennifer Young "Falling Leaves on Wilmington Avenue" Oil on Canvas, 6x8" Contact me for more info.

For this plein air painting, I set my easel up just in front of a lovely row of blazing orange-red maple trees in front of Ginter Park Baptist Church. The view looks down Wilmington Avenue to the cross-section where it meets Brook Road.

Just at the end of  Wilmingon on Brook sits the suggestion of a neighboring home. All that was visible through the canopy of trees was a bit of hedge, and then beyond that a front door flanked by two columns.

I think these elements give the eye a place to rest. But the main attraction for me was, of course, the color of those leaves and the patterns of morning light and shadow that fell across the road.

Autumn Afternoon at Lake Lure

 Autumn painting of water

This was another plein air painting I did on my mountain trip. I did this painting during John Budicin portion of the workshop. I was in full sun but it was windy so I didn't want to mess with my umbrella. John commented that I'd better shade my painting from time to time or else the values would be too dark. I tried my best, but when I got inside and looked at my painting it was indeed darker than I had expected. I may yet touch this piece up a bit, but I'm not sure. I do like the way the water looks, so I wouldn't want to mess with it too much.

In some ways John's style was very different from Ken's. John used little #3 round brushes, where Ken used #8 filberts. John had a more expansive pallete and Ken's was pretty limited. I found this interesting and it also confirmed to me that there is no one "right way" approach. What the two had in common, though, was an emphasis on design, value, and seeing everything in shapes and planes. I think these ideas were starting to solidify with me especially during the days when we painted outside.

This painting measures 9x12" and is done in oils on canvas mounted hardboard. I haven't uploaded it to my main website yet, so please contact me if you would like more information.

Fall Harvest

autumn landscape painting by Jennifer Young

Well, my workaround for posting to my blog while painting in the mountains was short-lived. In fact two of my previous posts were lost in the internet ethers, so I'm having to "retro-post" after the fact. This is one of the paintings I completed en plein air while at the workshop. I felt like I was finally finding a groove with this one, and thankfully we had a lovely mild day to work with!

The model posed only in brief intervals for us, so we had to work fast to get her "attitude" AND get the color notes and values that surrounded her. It was fun and challenging, but I am really happy with my results. There is something about painting en plein air that really helps to inform the light. I love backlit scenes like this one, even though it can be hard on the eyes if working in this way for a while. Ken's only critique when I was done was to say that the background trees might compete with the figure, leading the eye away from the center of interest. While this may be true, my feeling was that the fall colors helped to "set the tone" of the painting. Plus I am a color fiend and that fall foliage was too seductive to overlook. I did end up toning it down a little though.

This painting was done in oils on canvas-mounted hardboard. It measures 11x14". For more information please click on the image or contact me.

Asheville- days two and three

It has been an interesting and educating two days here at the workshop. Unfortunately the weather continues to be problematic, so we worked inside from the model on Tuesday. I will say that we had a terrific model who looked like he could have come out of an Italian Renaissance painting. Since Ken Backhaus' segment of the workshop deals with painting the figure within a landscape, we spent our time studying proportions, drawing, and values. I worked from the figure a lot in college but it has been a while since I've worked from a live model and I'd forgotten how challenging and rewarding it is. I think I will definitely continue this pursuit when I get back home, because even though I am a landscape painter, understanding the challenging human form instructs you on many levels. I wish I could post some picutres but alas my camera software has refused to download any pictures from my camera. I'm not sure what is going on with it, but as it is, I only have a limited amount of time that I can use the computer and I just haven't been able to mess with it.

Ken has had us work mainly in one-hour sessions. One of his main challenges to us has been to get us to commit to an idea (what do we want to say in this painting? what is our point of interest?) and then lay in the major shapes and values in broad strokes. Broad strokes doesn't mean just slapping the paint on hapazardly though. Every stroke must have meaning and intent. It was really helpful to me to work in this way. Having the time limit challenges the artist to make informed decisions and commit to them, and not to just futz and noodle endlessly with the painting. It gives a decisiveness to the work rather than having it look too worked over. This is the way with plein air painting also. The challenge is to commit to a statement of light, even if it shifts and changes as the painting progresses. So while I may have preferred to be painting outdoors on location, the figure studies really helped me to have some "ah-ha" moments.

Day three- The weather finally cooperated! We went outside to hickory nut farm and painted a beautiful autumn scene in a pasture. Some of the farm horses wandered up to where we were so that they could check us out. Ken placed the model at a distance in the landscape so that we could incorporate her into a broader scene. Even though the figure was small in comparison to the rest of the scene, her proportions had to be right or else it threw off your entire painting. I must say I was very happy with my results. I chose an angle that gave me the most beautiful backlighting on the model, the surounding shrubs, and the autumn foliage of the trees.

Since this may have been our only opportunity, weather-wise, I and one of the other painters also went out after class and painted on our own. We found a beautiful rolling vista with dramatic colors and cows and horses in the pasture. It was around 5 p.m. by the time we set up and I knew the light would change very rapidly at this time so I chose a small 6x8 pochade. It was plenty big, really, as the sun quickly dropped behind the mountain.

Day one at the Asheville workshop

Well it has been an interesting time here in Asheville so far. Yesterday it was beautiful and sunny, but C-O-L-D and very windy. The combination made it almost unbearable for most of us.  We stuck it out though!! The way they've organized this workshop is to split the group into two, so that one instructor gets half for half of the week, and the other gets the other half and then they switch. Ken Backhaus was teaching the first half of my workshop. His focus for the class was "the figure in landscape painting".

Okay, so I didn't read the prospectus that well and I had no idea we'd be doing figure painting. Being so excited about painting the landscape here, I was a bit taken aback and somewhat put off by having to paint from the model. I kept looking at this gorgeous land and thinking that if we were going to paint outside in the freezing cold, why not paint the landscape and work from the model indoors any time?

But having taught workshops before I also understood how hard it is to have control over a class and offer something that pleases everyone. In fact, it is nearly impossible! So having remembered "what it's like" I relaxed and decided to just enjoy the teaching, knowing that this was a time to learn and be challenged, not to worry about coming away with any "finished" paintings.

In fact the figure is the most challenging subject a representational painter can attempt. There is a reason why the the old masters started their training by painting and drawing the human figure. If you don't get the proportions right, it is obvious for all to see! And the figure is a great instructor of proportion for any other manner of painting that one might attempt.

Ken started out the workshop with a very interesting and informative session on color mixing. He uses the following limited pallette:

  • Ivory black
  • Alizarin Crimson Permanent
  • Permanent Rose
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Raw Sienna
  • Cadmium Lemon
  • Titanium White

His "color" demo showed how he can mix a myriad of colors from his palette. This palette was somewhat "earthier" than I am used to, but I enjoyed experimenting with it. The one component that I really do not use in my own palette is the Ivory black paint. I'm not really sure it will find its place on my own palette when I return home, but I  think it always helps to learn more about color by limiting the palette. Plus, it is a good way to provide color harmony in your paintings.

After the color demo, Ken showed us how he designed a painting using the figure. He spoke much about how to design the painting using large planes and notes of color. His approach was a bit like composing using puzzle pieces. Everything was about comparison. Comparing one proportion to another, and one value to another. It was very helpful and very informative!

Afterwards, we were able to start a painting of our own using the figure. Unfortunately by that time it was about 30 degrees and the winds were at 20 mph. Most of us were woefully underdressed for the occasion! We all finally had to stop due to the extreme temperatures. Many of us were shaking so bad from the shivers that we couldn't even draw any more. I went out immediately afterwards and bought boots and long johns.

This was a difficult day even for a seasoned plein air painter. Ken is from Minnesota and even he admittedly struggled. I felt for him during his demo, but not as much as I felt for his model! Nevertheless, the days lessons were very instructive.

I've taken some photos but I have yet to figure out how to upload them withouth my usual setup. Once I figure this out I will post some images!

Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes Oil Paintings and art prints online Contact

I've arrived in Asheville

I'm here to take a painting workshop from two painters who I really admire; Ken Bachkhaus and John Budicin. This is a gift I've given to myself following the work I've done for my last show and some large commissions. I was on the waiting list and there was a cancellation so I found out rather late I could get in.  I have a ton of work to do to get ready for my new studio opening, but I decided to go for it any way. I haven't taken a workshop in a while, but as an artist there is always much to learn. I never want to get to a point where I think I know all there is to know. As long as I can stay filled with wonder and curiosity I know I am in a good place. I have held a short list of artists in mind whose workshops I feel would be of benefit to me. But as a working artist, it is hard to find the time to travel all over the place to take classes. The opportunity presented itself with TWO artists I admire, and I couldn't pass it up.

My drive into Asheville was stunning. If this isn't the peak week of autumn here it has to be pretty darn close. The mountains were dressed in a kaleidescope of fall colors. Weather has been spotty so there were some large storm clouds clearing away in the sky as the sun set over the mountains. I drove due west straight into the most spectacular sun and cloud displays I think I have ever seen. I wished I hadn't been driving so I could have at least snapped some pictures! As it was I had no idea where I was going so I had to pay attention to the road and catch glimpses as well as I could. Any way it made me feel excited to be here.

We are in for a chilly week. I have a low threshold for the cold so it should be interesting, as this is a plein air excursion. The forecast is pretty "iffy" so far, but it looks like we will get at least two or three days with some sun. Tomorrow is supposed to be windy as well. I'm game though. I intend to learn some things and I have no doubt I will. I hope to post my work on the blog (the good, the bad and the ugly) as I develop it while I'm here. 

Painting in the mountains for a few

I'm heading out tomorrow to do some plein air paintings in the mountains of North Carolina. I hope I will be able to catch the autumn leaves at their peak! I'm bringing my computer so, barring any technical difficulties I plan to continue blogging while I'm gone.