Mountain Shadows

Continuing with my exploration of the southern landscape, I started a new 24x30" painting today based on my recent trip to the mountains. Here is the initial tonal drawing to determine the composition and basic shapes. This is an early morning scene so the shadows are nice and long:

Blue ridge mountain landscape painting in progress by Jennifer E. Young

Next I start the block in, very broadly, laying in the darkest patterns first, followed by the lights. Aside from the usual burnt sienna I use for the tonal sketch, I have limited my palette to three primaries plus white (cadmium yellow light, alizarin permanent, and ultramarine blue).

Blue Ridge Mountains landscape painting in progress by Jennifer E. Young

The sky will be my lightest light, but I've put off laying that in until I have something of the mountain laid down.

Here's where I am after a few hours' work:

Blue Ridge Mountain landscape painting in progress by Jennifer E. Young

Next I will start laying in the sky and blocking in the haybales before going back in to refine overall. I think I've gotten some good information down so far. Now I just need to keep building on it and solidify my plan. More to come soon!

Sketches from France- plus a brag

Just before I left for France my dear friends Jack and Mikki sent me some wonderful books on travel sketching. My favorite from the group is Artist En Routeby Betty Lynch. (A quick look at the price that this book is now going for makes me glad that I got this as a gift!) Betty is a very talented watercolorist, but I am partial to her simple pen and ink sketches, and they inspired me to keep my own little art journal for my trip.

Art travel sketching Jennifer YoungI brought a 5x8" moleskine journal with me, which fit nicely into my carryall bag. Never one to be without as many options as possible, I chose the notebook that would accept watercolors (though most of my sketches were pen and ink.) Here's one with my notes of the Abbey I blogged about yesterday:

France travel sketches Jennifer Young

Most of these were just quick little jots, but the journal really helped me to lock in the memories in place, and keep track of the places we visited in sequential order. So many times on action packed trips like these, all of the memories start to blend together after a while, so I really recommend this combination of traveling, sketching and journaling. 

On the same day that we visited Abbaye Nouvelle, we also visited the village of Beynac (in the Dordogne), with its fascinating 12th century chateau perched atop dramatic limestone cliffs. Only time for a quick sketch for this part of the itinerary, which I did after our picnic lunch by the river bank. We are steeped deep into Medieval history here; this castle is where Richard the Lionheart met his death!

Travel sketches of the French countryside

***And now, we interrupt this art travel log for a quick brag ;-). There is a fine new oil painter in the Young family, and she's got a blog! Check out my very talented niece, Molly Young and her Daily Painting blog. Molly Young

Molly came all the way up from Texas to take my April workshop this past spring, and I got the chance to see her talent in person. I wish I could say I had something to do with it, but she's been cutting her own path for a while now and I look forward to seeing where she takes it. Her blog is brand new, but she's been painting for a couple of years, and she's a quick study to boot.

The fruit trees of early spring were all abloom while Molly was here visiting, and we took advantage of it by heading up to Monticello for a quick visit.  Here's a shot of the two of us at Monticello:

Jennifer Young and Molly Young at Monticello 

Molly's got some wonderful new paintings from that visit on her blog. Here's one of my faves.

Art walk tonight, plus "deep thoughts" on goals

It's looking like a gorgeous day today, so I'm going to try to get out and do some painting outside before heading downtown to get the gallery ready for the First Fridays Downtown Art Walk. Tonight's artwalk opening continues a showing from last month called "Spring Mix". The theme is gardens, flowers, anything Spring. But since my place is primarily an art studio, I've always got new stuff on view, even when a show carries over. June will be my last Art Walk of the season, debuting my 2nd annual "En Plein Air" show. As expected from the title, it will feature work I've done on location. I'll have new  and recent local paintings of Richmond, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and some from my upcoming travels to southwestern France. Here are the details for the May and June shows:

Where we are: 

Jennifer Young Studio & Gallery is located at 16 East Main Street, (between 1st and Foushee) two blocks east of the Jefferson Hotel.

We're open during the First Fridays Richmond Art Walk from 6 to 8:30 PM and by appointment at other times. The Art Walk season continues right on through the summer, but we'll be taking a hiatus in July and August. For additional information contact us or call 804-254-1008. Click here to view a map and get driving directions from your location.


As I look ahead  to the end of  the Art Walk season (for me) I am thinking a lot about personal vs. professional goals. Working full time in this art thing, I've accepted that there is always going to be a lot of overlap. My art IS personal (I'd have it no other way) but it is also my business, and sometimes it is really a challenge not to have those two aspects completely blur.

Since I've been at my downtown studio, my focus has been on the professional end of things. Namely, how can I (with an artist's budget) best market and utilize this space? How can I maximize its potential (it IS a gorgeous space)? I had many openings, joined committees, changed my hours a few times (now back to "by appointment"), and hosted a workshop (a first at this studio).  I've had some wonderful experiences and some times when I feel as if I've fallen flat on my face. But, that's pretty much par for the course in any business I guess.  In any event, in the relatively short amount of time that I've had the studio gallery, I've learned a great deal, about my business and (perhaps more importantly) about myself. 

 For a while now (at least in the last 6 months, maybe more) I feel like I've been involved with a lot of business (busy-ness!) and less and less painting. For me, the painting (or drawing, or printmaking) has always been the driving force and that's where I need to return my focus for a while. And painting for purpose of expansion rather than for production, if that makes any sense. I look forward to it. 

I'm kicking off with a plein air painting trip to France, but my goal for the summer is to devote more time to those things  that have always fed  my spirit and ultimately helped me to advance as an artist and as a creative liver-of-life. More plein air painting. More drawing. More experimenting. More reading. More time at home. Gardening. Travel. Finally taking a sewing class. Learning about web development and redesigning my website (here comes that blur!) Teaching, if it's in the cards. And yeah, more relaxing!

Okay, that's a pretty ambitious looking summer list, but I'm thinking of it more as a summer menu. A few of these things take priority for me, and the rest I can select according to time and desire. As I said, I look forward to it.

Thanks to for featuring my landscape paintings!

A few weeks ago, Dan at Empty Easel was kind enough to feature my plein air painting demo on his art site. I'm thankful to him again, because today he's given me a very nice a write up about the latest landscape paintings I've created for my current show  about the luminous landscape. If you have an interest in the arts, do check out his site. He regularly features the works of artists he's reviewed from around the internet, plus he has wonderful tips for art and painting as well as Internet art marketing. If you're an artist, consider submitting your work or an article yourself for a possible feature.

...And if you're in the Richmond area, my show "Luminosity" is still on view until December 1st, so come by my studio/gallery this Friday during the art walk if you can,  or just contact me to visit the gallery at another time.

WIP landscape painting complete: Blue Ridge Morning Fog

Due to several days of rain, I had a struggle last week getting a good photo of the painting I shared previously  as a "work in progress" (here and here) . Sunshine has returned! Here is the completed painting of an early morning fog landscape in the Blue Ridge mountains (Nelson County):

landscape painting of fog virginia blue ridge mountains "Blue Ridge Morning Fog" Oil on Canvas, 20x24" SOLD!

Fog landscape painting- Work in Progress (cont'd)

I decided to let the fog painting rest for a day or two to do a little plein air painting, and think about what I wanted to do next with the studio piece. When I came back to it, the surface had "set up" a bit, which made it easier for me to make adjustments to the color temperature. I decided I didn't want to wait to make changes to the overall warmth of the painting, so I jumped right in: fog landscape painting demo  landscape painting of mountains  

 painting demo landscape fog  fog landscape painting by jennifer young

As I'm going along I am restating shapes, doing a kind of push and pull with the foreground and background. I've reintroduced the telephone poles, which right now I rather like. More work to do but it is starting to take shape.

Landscape painting W.I.P. - Still exploring fog

A cold has me moving a little slowly but today I'm painting and I thought I'd share a work in progress of a foggy morning in the Virginia Blue Ridge mountains: landscape painting demo- fog over Blue ridge mountains  landscape painting mountain fog demo WIP 

landscape painting demo- fog over Blue ridge mountains  landscape painting demo- fog over Blue ridge mountains

I've started with a pretty simple drawing with a very thin earthy mixture, using both brush and rag to indicate my general composition. In case you can't tell what this is, a fence and a pathway lead down towards the center of interest; a foggy line of trees. What I really like about the composition is the strong lines that draw me into the scene, justaposed by the softness of the hazy atmosphere. I've included some telephone poles and lines in my initial drawing because they were a part of the scene, and I liked how they echoed the other lines on the ground. They may remain...or not. I may also move that path over a little to the left or widen it a bit, but I will know more once I get further along.

For these fog paintings I find it is easier to start with the lightest values of the sky and more distant trees, building darker values as I work my way forward. As I'm going along I'm painting pretty quickly and thickly, testing  and comparing values with a palette knife of color on the canvas, as in the 2nd image. Right now I really want to keep my edges soft, so I'm using a rag quite a bit in this early stage to push paint around, blend edges and make corrections.

For this fog painting, what I have in mind is a scene with somewhat warmer hues than what I've achieved so far. Even though the fog is thick and there is a diffused light rather than a direct light source, the sun was burning through and giving everything a warm hazy glow.

The problem is that warm colors can so quickly jump out and push the distance forward, so I'll need to discover ways to deal with this. I should have a better idea of how to proceed after I block in the foreground.

Art opening tonight: "Luminosity"

I've been scrambling this week to get everything finished for the opening  for my exhibit of new landscape  paintings tonight here at the gallery, and I'm officially pooped. The good news is, the show looks great, and  I can now take few hours to rest before we open up tonight. Come out and see us if you are coming downtown tonight or are doing the First Fridays Richmond art walk! Here are the details for tonights event:

"Luminosity" Art Exhibit at Jennifer Young Studio & Gallery

Richmond, VA –  Jennifer Young Studio & Gallery will feature new paintings of the luminous landscape by Jennifer Young.  The show opens on Friday October 5th, 2007, with a reception from 6 to 8:30  PM. Opening night music provided by Russell Young. The exhibit continues through November 30th.   Jennifer Young Studio & Gallery is located at 16 East Main Street, two blocks east of the Jefferson Hotel. Click here to view a map and get directions from your location. For additional information please contact us!

Blue Ridge mountains landscape painting: Lifting Fog II

Here is a painting in my "Southern Landscape" series that I've just completed. This painting shows an early morning Virginia scene of fog rising from the earth on a summer's day. I painted a smaller similar version of this scene some time ago and when I finished that one I knew I wanted to see it on a larger scale:

Landscape painting Blue Ridge Mountains Jennifer Young "Lifting Fog II" Oil on Canvas, 24x36" sold

I mentioned the other day that these last paintings I've been doing of early evening scenes are lessons in value comparisons. I can say the same for this early morning scene as well. The values are fairly close together in some cases and the value shifts are very subtle, so it can take some doing to differentiate one from another.

 The main thing I do is just to compare, compare, compare. I will mix a big load of color on my palette and dab a bit on the area of canvas that I'm working on, compare that to the other surrounding values before I commit.

Color temperature (warm vs. cool color)  as well as color intensity are other elements that help describe atmospheric perspective in a painting, especially when the values are very close together.

So, for instance, if I want to push a part of the landscape back into the picture plane to add depth, I may cool this area down, gray it down, or use less contrast (or all 3), as I've done with the above lines of trees at varying distances.

By a similar notion, if I want to push a part of the landscape forward I may use more contrast, as well as warmer, more local colors as I did in the twilight painting from my previous post.  Of course, with a blazing sunset in the sky all of this gets a little tricky, but that is part of the fun!

Morning Meadow; Blue Ridge Mountain landscape painting

I have been spending so much time doing small studies lately that it really felt good to do a big-honkin' painting in the studio of the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. Ahhhh! Big canvas, big brushes, and lots of paint.

Landscape painting Blue Ridge Mountains Jennifer Young


Okay, so this painting is 30x40"--not massive but respectably large for me. I've painted other variations of this scene before but they sold before I could get a high quality photograph taken of them. This snapshot is off somewhat and caught a bit of glare but I will post a better image once I've finished the painting (a bit more minor tweaking to do.) ***Update***This painting has sold, but you can see the finshed painting here.

I decided to try this with a limited palette of five colors (ultramarine blue, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson permanent, cadmium yellow light, pthalo green and white.)

Oil painting limited palette

Basically this is the palette Kevin Macpherson often cites in his very good book: Landscape Painting Inside & Out, (which I will write about more extensively in my next post.)

This pallette differs from the one that Kenn Backhaus uses that I had been experimenting with a couple of weeks ago painting on location in Easton Md. I rather find myself gravitating more towards the Macpherson palette, which varies the colors and omits the black. The jury is still out though and I will continue to experiment with both, as I do think I am learning a lot about color.

Lifting Fog

An annoying virus hijacked my computer these last several days, but after much ado and hairpulling, I am finally able to post again. Here is one of my recent pieces. Click on the image for more information:

"Lifting Fog", Oil, 12x24 

Landscape painting of Virginia mountains

This is an early morning scene of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. The grass was wet with dew and the thick fog was just beginning to lift off to give way to the morning sun. The fog was so thick that I could barely make out the mountain that loomed just beyond the furthermost trees.