Merry Christmas

Like so many others today, I'm wrapping up loose packages and getting ready for Christmas Eve dinner. So for now I'll leave you with this year's Christmas card, which is derived from one of my fondest painting experiences of 2008. Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a bright and beautiful 2009!

French nocturne plein air painting by Jennifer Young

A good day in Annapolis

My first full day in Annapolis had a slow start, but in the end I got two and a half, maybe three little pieces done. I say *maybe* three, because the last one was just as the sun was setting over the town and night fell before I could really asess the work. But I'm jumping ahead. Annapolis is a charming little town, and the weather has been ideal. As lovely as the day began, I spent a good deal of time this morning wandering around with my gear in tow. For some reason I couldn't decide what to paint. Maybe I was overloaded by too much stimuli. Or maybe I was a little road weary...who knows? In any event, eventually I did settle down, and started with a street scene of  a sweet little church on the south side of Annapolis, in the sectoin of town called Eastport:

 plein air painting annapolis street scene

"First Baptist Church of Eastport" Oil on Board 8"x6"

Because of my late start, it was approaching lunchtime when I finished. So I thought it would be a good time to take a break and check out the rest of the Paint Annapolis event before I set up for another painting.  I was a little disappointed that I didn't see more painters out and about. I know they were there, but they must have been pretty well spread around Annapolis because I only came across a few the whole day. I imagine many of the juried artists were off on some quiet street somewhere away from the tourists so they could get some serious painting done. As for the others in the MAPAPA, most were nowhere to be seen; even though by the looks of the sign-in sheet, I know they had "checked in" at the information center.

I am hopeful that I'll run into more painters tomorrow. But for today, rather than drag my gear around endlessly for blocks on end, I abandoned my search and decided to set up for another painting. The light was getting really lovely and I found a nice, shady, quiet spot at the end of Shipright Street:

annapolis coastal painting en plein air

"Harbor View, Annapolis (Shipright Street)" Oil on board 9x12"


This photo really washes out my sky, but it was turning that lovely warm tone of late afternoon, and the clouds were taking on a beautiful soft pink glow. Until I can get this painting home to adjust the colors and edit out the little knobs of the canvas holders from my easel, you'll just have to use your imagination! This little scene shows the view looking out towards a little harbor on Spa Creek, and the red drawbridge that connects the historic center with the small maritime republic of Eastport. The historic center is lovely, but I rather prefer crossing the bridge to quieter section of Eastport. There is much to attract-- the quiet, charming streets and all of the smaller harbors that allow many lovely views of the water.

With painting #2 complete, I thought I was done for the day. So I packed up to head back to the hotel. But on my way back to the parking lot, I was struck by the last pink light of the setting sun over the historic town. I whipped out another canvas and started what I thought was to be a small sunset painting. However, the sky changed soooo quickly that soon I was painting a nocturne. Even though my canvas was small, (8x8") it soon became impossible to see anything in the dark as I had no street light nearby to help me in my task. It will be like looking into a Christmas stocking tomorrow morning when I go to the car to take a look at the painting in the daylight. Even so, I may yet pull out a lump of coal. We will have to see!

Le Nocturne Francais

I have always loved nocturnes, so it was a real thrill to paint one under a full moon in a beautiful French country village. This little painting was done right in the neighborhood of our home base at Le Vieux Couvent:

Plein air oil painting French nocturne landscape "Le Nocturne Francais" Oil on Multimedia Artboard, 6x8" Click here or on the image for more info.

This painting came about one evening after a full day of touring and painting in the Dordogne countryside, AND after a huge and delicious five course dinner. We were all winding down for the night and Mary, our fearless leader, came in from an after dinner walk she had taken with her husband. They had gone out to find a lovely evening scene just up the street, lit by a street lamp and a full moon. She was going to go painting, she said, and anyone who wanted to join her was also welcome. Well, as tired as I was, I couldn't resist, and neither could most of the other painters. "We're in France! We can sleep later," became the mantra of our time together.

Knowing how quickly things change in the night sky, I took a small surface with me and set up under a nearby streetlamp. While the fog painting posted earlier was a high-key close value painting, this was a close value low-key one. We really couldn't see our colors at all, so it is indeed a good practice to place paint colors habitually in the same positions on the palette!

Gradually my eyes adjusted somewhat, so I just concentrated on shape and subtle differences. After I got the large dark shapes down, the night sky and the window light were the first things I addressed. It was a good thing, as not very long after, the clouds had drifted completely away, and the homeowner had called it a night and turned off the light.