Post- Paint Annapolis

Sorry to say, my blog has suffered a bit from benign neglect since I left for my travels a few weeks ago. Rain and 30 mile/hr wind consumed most of our beach vacation, so while it was still beautiful, there was no chance of painting boats or coastal motifs before the Paint Annapolis competition that followed just a week later. Paint Annapolis itself was fun and enlightening, but since I am still dealing with shoulder tendinitis and pain, it was physically stressful and pretty exhausting. For the first two days, it seemed that I had brought the crappy weather I'd had at the beach right along with me up to the Annapolis event. The weather did turn beautiful during the last portion, but I think I kind of "blew myself out" trying to get something interesting down early on while the weather was gray and the light exceedingly flat.

The previous paragraph makes it sound like I didn't enjoy myself at all, but that was not the case! In fact, while I didn't come home with any prizes, I still received a lot of reward. My early struggles notwithstanding, the city of Annapolis is charming. I had a lovely host for the event, and everyone I encountered in the event organization, and even in the town at large, was warm and friendly. AND I'm delighted to say that I sold a study right from the easel!  :-)  I also found myself among some incredibly talented painters and it was truly inspiring to see so much fine work being produced by my contemporaries. Almost all of the artists were friendly, uplifting, and inclusive, making the atmosphere feel more like a (highly motivated) community than a competition.  So much so, in fact, that by the time it was all over with, in spite of my exhaustion, I was actually sad to see it end.

plein air oil painting of Annapolis, MD, by Jennifer Young

"A Banner Day", Oil on linen, 12x12"

As a painter, I also I learned a lot. I learned that if it isn't happening, don't force it. I learned that if the light is truly uninteresting, you're better off sleeping in a day or two and staying up at night to paint nocturnes!  I learned that in the overwhelm of an unfamiliar environment, I'd be much better off painting simple studies successfully than failing at capturing a very complicated scene. I learned that even in the anxiety of knowing you only have 3 days to paint,  you really do have to pace yourself, take care of yourself, be kind to yourself, and give your mind and body enough time to rest and relax. And I learned that all of the things I thought I knew can so easily fall by the wayside in this thing called "competition".

As is usually the case with me, I learned much of this more through error than through trial. In a way, the lessons I learned at the competition are only larger-than-life versions of the lessons I learn all the time through the act of plein air painting. These paintings can be like mini thrills-of-victory or agonies-of-defeat, though often they fall somewhere in between. Much is made of the victories (and with good reason) but for the painter who is fortunate enough to recognize it, they all hold value. The value lies in what you take away from it.

p.s. The painting posted was painted during the sunny portion of the event. It's from the quick draw called "Dueling Brushes". Please contact me for purchase inquiries. I posted about this event also last year and you can read my account here.

Dueling Brushes

After having what I felt to be a successful morning on my 2nd day in Annapolis, it was my expectation to have as wonderful an afternoon. NOT! There are times when I have to push myself to paint, even if I don't feel like it. This is usually a good idea, but not always. Sometimes giving yourself a chance to "recharge" is the best thing you can possibly do for your work, and this was one of those times. Once I finished "Daybreak", I decided to take a "lunch break" and get out of the midday sun to check out some of the local Annapolis galleries. My plan was then to find some charming street corner where I might set up in town. There was plenty of material to choose from, to be sure. So even though I was pretty tired, I set up in a quiet spot to paint a pretty B&B surrounded by flowers. 

The thing that attracted me to the spot  though, was the pattern of the light, which was steady and strong in constrast and formed an interesting pattern of interconnecting diagonals....At least when I first started. But soon a heavy cloud cover set in.....and lifted....and set in again. By the time the clouds had cleared for good, the pattern of light had completely changed and I finally found myself scrapping the whole painting in frustration.

By the time I had gotten back to the hotel, it was late and I was even more tired. I had actually scheduled myself to compete in a little quick-draw competition called "Dueling Brushes", on the next (and final) morning. But before I went to bed, I called my husband and told him I was considering skipping the event and just coming on home. "Come home if that's what you want," he said, "Nobody's making you do this."

He was right, of course. But I guess the night's rest was restorative, because the next morning I figured, what the heck? I'd go ahead with it. After all, I'd registered for the event, I was in town, and I'd spent a couple of days painting this subject matter so at least I'd had a little preparation. Plus I'd already been through the "agony of defeat" and I was still standing ;-)

The event rules stated that we all had two hours to create a finished painting, after which time we were to scurry our paintings and easels over to the judging area. The judge would then award cash prizes and we'd have a little exhibition in the public square.

To make things easy on myself I decided to set up to paint the open harbor that was pretty close to the judging area. There were surely other interesting spots in town I could have scouted out, but I just couldn't see myself running through town like a maniac with my easel trying to make it in time for the judging.  

From the position I chose along the open harbor, the boats in the scene were pretty far out into the middle ground. It was looking like I might be stuck with a rather placid composition on an overcast day with no foreground interest. But the clock had started and  there were some subtle shimmering light patterns on the water that I thought maybe I could make something out of.  So I settled on a design in my head, set up all of my gear, and began my composition--just in time for a huge tourist boat to pull up and park right in front of my view. ARRRRGH!

I moved all of my gear as quickly as I could to a nearby spot. The view was a little different, but I recovered fairly quickly with a revised plan and got to work. Then I lucked out. What started out as an overcast morning with flat light soon began to give way to breaking clouds backlit by the morning sun.  I had found my interest (and actually, the sky I had painted on the previous morning served me well in this moment.) I quickly changed my plan again and lowered the horizon--this was going to be a painting about the sky.  

 Annapolis coastal marine painting en plein air by Jennifer Young

"Changing Sky" Oil on Multimedia Artboard, 8x12" sold

To my surprise and delight, I really began to have fun. And when it came time for the judging, I was surprised and delighted again. The painting received "Honorable Mention," which seemed a pretty good accomplishment for a newcomer to these events, especially considering I was thinking about skipping the whole thing!

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!

Luminous landscape painting: Beneath the Haze

This is a new painting I've done as part of a series of works I am calling the Luminous Landscape. It is of a most unusual evening sky I saw while painting an adjacent view on location on Tilghman Island. It had been an incredibly hazy, humid day, and when I set up to paint en plein air, the sky was covered in a heavy haze. But as the day started approaching sunset, I saw the sun doing its best to burn through that haze. The effect produced a diffused comet-like trail of light across the upper part of the sky, and  a bands of clearing closer down to the horizon. I really enjoyed the abstract qualities of this scene.

sunset marsh painting

"Beneath the Haze" Oil on Canvas 40" x 30"

I painted this larger painting in my studio on a gallery wrapped canvas with a deep 1.5" stretcher with painted edges, so it will be ready to hang without the need of a frame. Here is a side view:

Oil painting of sunset and water by Jennifer Young

Plein air painting; St. Michaels Boat House

I'm back in the studio now and assessing the work I did last week on location in Easton Maryland. In some cases I will clean up these pieces up or make some other adjustments, but first I will just prop them up in my studio and study them for a while. This is a little 8x10" study I did at the Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. This was done in the morning, on the same day as the afternoon painting of the "Delaware" tugboat I mentioned in an earlier post.

Coastal painting of boats Maryland Eastern Shore


Plein air painting; View Across the Harbor, Oxford, Maryland

I don't normally paint views of such great distance, but this was a lively little harbor scene and so representative of the little town of Oxford on Maryland's Eastern Shore; charming, quaint, small and picturesque. This was painted mid morning (started around 9:30) on location. I found one tree to shade me, while I used my umbrella to shade my painting and my palette. Of course I still managed to get sunburn!  This painting is 9x12" and is oil on canvas.

 coastal landscape painting harbor view

Here I am using the same limited palette of 6 colors plus white that I have used all week, which is incidentally the same palette that the talented plein air painter and instructor Kenn Backhaus recommends. How he manages to get such seductive color with so few pigments still eludes me, but I am determined to figure it out!

The Delaware; plein air painting in St. Michaels

Another hot day painting outdoors, but at least the humidity was a bit more bearable. There was a nice breeze too, which kicked up mightily while I was painting this little tugboat in the harbor at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. It was so windy, in fact that I was afraid to attach my umbrella to my easel. I had to hold my umbrella in one hand to shade my painting and palette, and paint with the other hand. I never before realized how much I needed two hands for painting! I chatted with the owner of this tugboat briefly and he assured me I had captured a decent likeness. "It's called The Delaware," he said as he was walking away. "The Delaware!"  I guess I have a title. The Delaware it is!

coastal painting historic harbor tugboat

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Tilghman Island Wetlands; Plein air painting

This piece was painted at about 5 pm. after a full day of painting in the hot, hot, sun. Sun sets around here at around 8 pm. but even so the light changed very quickly. There was a pinkish haze in the clouds and sky which may not be showing up that well in the image here, and the greys are really have more color in them, but I'm using limited image editing software on the road. This painting is 8"x10" and painted with the same 6 color + white palette I used yesterday.

wetlands painting eastern shore

Off to the Eastern Shore

I'm taking off for a few days to the Eastern Shore of Maryland with the intention of doing a little painting on location.  Blogging may be spotty if at all due to limited internet access, but I will try. I have been taking advantage of travel this summer since things always seem to kick into high gear in the fall and things at the gallery can get pretty busy. In light of my travels I will not be participating in the August First Fridays Richmond Art Walk (I'll gear back up again for the Art Walk in September). But there will still be a lot going on at the other venues, so be sure to check them out if you are in Richmond.