Monday, January 30, 2006

...And speaking of smaller works, sometimes they are a great way for me to work out some interesting compositions. Many of my mini paintings are great in a small format, but the compositions might be too simple to translate into a larger work. Others, however, could work well on a larger scale.

I painted this little mini just before my autumn open studio:
The little painting sold on opening night, but I really liked the composition and have been wanting to see how it would work in a more developed fashion on a larger canvas. I started the larger one today, so we shall see if it holds up as well on a grander scale.

Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Smaller works:
Here are a couple of smaller paintings I did recently to include in my upcoming show. They are each 12x12" gallery wrapped:

"Early Lavender"

"Golden Valley"

Often times when collectors are interested in my smaller works, they are looking for pairs or multiples to use in a grouping. So I do try to keep that in mind when I am creating the smaller ones-- especially my minis. I don't go about creating "matching sets", but as I am working I think about compliments.

Because there are so many ways to hang art, I created a little sampling of ideas on my website that addresses some of the possibilities. It can really be a fun endeavor in itself, and an expression of one's own personal style and creativity as a collector. Some people like a very formal, symmetrical presentation, while others like to mix it up. Some people prefer that all frames match, but I'm one of those who enjoys an eclectic presentation and think that variety of frame styles presented together can look pretty neat, so long as they compliment each other (and of course the room's decor.) I've even seen both framed and unframed work hanging together to great effect.

While sometimes there is a perfect small spot to display a single painting, these smaller paintings can be shown in so many other ways. They can be stacked one over another on a narrow wall, or presented in groupings over a larger piece of furniture like a sofa or console. They can be used instead of sconces to flank a nice mirror over a buffet or hutch (I've done this in my dining room before). They can even be displayed more informally, and sit atop a mantle or book shelf.

Here are a couple of snapshots from my last open studio that shows how I displayed smaller works as part of a larger grouping:

Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Yesterday I put the finishing touches on the painting below. Sometimes they come together so nicely that they seem to paint themselves. I love when that happens! This is a scene of the countryside just south of Siena that we explored one fine day. I have been wanting to paint this scene for a while but haven't gotten around to it before now. It is soaking wet, but if it dries in time I may include it in my show in Greenville. I love this scene so much that I may even paint another version of it even larger. It measures 24" x 30" and is done with gallery wrap:

Here is a shot from the side:

For more information about this painting, check out my website under the Italian Landscapes section.

Jennifer Young, Vibrant Landscapes

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Older Work

I've been pretty busy getting ready for a show in Greenville, NC next week, so have not had much opportunity to upload new images to the website. I added a couple of new ones this morning though, and will add more as time and weather permits me to photograph them.

Meanwhile, since I've mentioned my older work a couple of times, I thought I'd share a few of my older, very different paintings. I was heavily into symbolism and archetypes when I did these. Some of my influences were Chagall, Kahlo, the German expressionists, Klimt, Schiele, and others in the symbolist and figurative traditions. I also went bananas (and still do) over the early renaissance paintings I saw in Italy and Belgium. So, lots of imagery, and lots of "mood"! These pieces are all fairly large. I no longer display these on my
official website, because they are so different from what I am doing now:

"Flora" (oil on gallery wrapped canvas, approx. 52" high x 36" wide). Those are bees flying out of her mouth. Represents spring renewal (possibly after a hard winter?)

"Abundance" (oil and gold metal leaf on gallery wrapped canvas, 36"h x 48"w). This is "Flora" after she gained some weight. Just kidding! Represents the abundance in life, fertility, nurturing, etc.

"The Fool" (oil on gallery wrapped canvas, 48"h x 36"w). This is based on the first card in the archetypical journey of the Tarot. Represents new beginnings, adventure, hopefulness, but tendencies toward being a bit fool hardy too (note, the parachute is not open!)

"The Night Sea Journey" (oil on gallery wrapped canvas, 48"h x 60"w). All about the dark night of the soul.

"The Marriage Contract" (oil on gallery wrapped canvas, 36"h x 48" w)

These kinds of paintings garnered some shows in places like Purdue University and the Hofstra museum. The photography isn't great so some are very dark (literally and figuratively, I guess!) There are a few more, but these give an idea of what I was doing before I started painting landscapes (you can see my current landscape work online at

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Starting and finishing:

Nowadays, the beginning stage is definitely one of my favorite parts of the painting process. I used to hate starting something new. Well, not hate, but I did feel a certain sense of intimidation staring at a big white, blank canvas. This was probably due to the fact that some years ago when I painted in my figurative/abstract style, I was creating work without reference to much of anything, other than my own thoughts and ideas. I also used to stretch my own canvases, which were pretty darn large!! It took me so much energy and effort to build the stretchers, stretch the canvas, and then apply at least two layers of gesso, that by the time I was ready to paint, well, I'd better not mess up! Intimidating.

Now, with my landscapes, I always start with a beautiful, archival ready made canvas, and an idea or inspiration that is based on the natural world (photo or actual). With so much around me to observe, my ideas seem endless. The beginning stages are fun because, while I have a fairly well established starting point, I am constantly designing, tweaking, abstracting, and then bringing my design back into focus. I can imagine what it will look like, but not exactly, so there is a bit of surprise and excitement as I make the painting unfold.

I paint with large brushes for as long as possible and really get things going. As the painting advances, I continue to flesh out the values and colors, leaving the finer details until the very end. The details are necessary of course, but the challenge is to make them just enough so that they enhance the piece (a line here, a stroke of highlight there) but not enough so that it looks over-worked.

Often with smaller paintings, I can paint wet into wet, "alla prima" (all at once,) so finishing is really just the final note in a natural progression of observations and decisions. But when I have a large canvas, I can sometimes paint on it over a series of days. I may take it off of the easel for a while and just stare at it. Start another painting and then stare at the nearly-completed canvas again, throughout the day. What needs to be addressed? When is it finished? Often I can answer these questions pretty quickly, but not always.

So, any way, this week I have been so into starting paintings and I haven't done much finishing. I keep starting and starting. (I guess whatever keeps you motivated and working.) I think I have 4 or so going right now. Well, the time has come to start finishing some of the darned things. That's what I'll be doing today. Hopefully at the day's end I can emerge with the accomplishment of completion.
Travel plans:

Travel is one of the most joyful parts of my life as an artist. I love traveling to new and beautiful places to paint and gather inspiration, and I feel so fortunate that my business is able to support my adventures.

This February we will be taking a much welcomed trip down to sunny Key West. We were supposed to go last Spring, but bad weather caused us to cancel those plans. Here's a scene I painted from photos I took on our last trip to Key West. It's called "Sunset Celebration". It measures 11x14", oil on canvas. For more details about the painting, check out my scenes of the American South section on my website:

I've also started planning for a June trip to Lake Como, Italy! I think the scenic views of the lake regions in Northern Italy are some of the most striking and beautiful in the country. The uniqueness of Lake Como is that it is distinctively Mediterranean, with lush flora, palm trees and cypresses, but set against a stunning backdrop of the Alpine mountains. I am so excited to be returning to this area, since the last time I went was many years ago and my camera broke on day two! Here is a scene I painted after returning from that trip, called "Around the Bend". The oil painting has long since sold, but I offer small reproductions of it for sale on my website:

I will be painting on location both in Key West and in Como. I am primarily an oil painter but I'm considering bringing watercolors instead, since they allow for easier cleanup and are more portable. Plus, with the new airline regulations I have heard many instances where other artists have had their oil paints confiscated by the airlines. That's quite a setback to experience, considering the painter has to buy a whole new set of expensive paints at the destination site. Supposedly you can bring a letter from the paint manufacturer insisting that the oil paints are made with vegetable oils and do not contain but a trace of ingredients that would be considered "flammable".

But in past trips since 9/11 I have not wanted to take the chance. If I wanted to paint in oils overseas I ended up just shopping for small tubes of paint in the destination country. This can actually be a really fun experience, because there are so many fine products in the art stores of France and Italy. But it does take a bit of extra planning and time if one is going to be staying primarily out in the country.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Gallery wrap-
This week I'm working on some landscapes done with gallery wrapped canvas. It is a more time consuming because I am extending the painting to the edges, but I am really liking the effect. Here is a a small 12x12" work in progress. I'll be posting more work to my
website this weekend.

Okay, so the fast has been a little harder than I thought- energy wise. May have been a better choice to start this after my next art opening, but oh well. I think I can still get the work done in plenty of time. I'll just need to manage my time wisely.

In some instances the fast is easier than I would have imagined, but it is still not for the faint of heart. I am doing the "Master Cleanse," a modified juice fast and am on day 7. Haven't blogged before now because I am at the studio during the day and like milktoast by 8 p.m. every evening. Supposedly it gets better in respect to energy level and other things too. We will see. It might help if I stopped fantasizing about Pad Thai and garlicky spaghettini! I've not been all that hungry, but am having outrageous cravings. Still, I've gotten this far (with no coffee!) and am aiming for 10 days or more.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!

Just back from the holidays and about recovered from 2 weeks of travel to Texas to see family. The time between just before Christmas and just after New Years Day are typically slow for my art business, so I try to take advantage of the lull and take a little break for myself as well. However, I am returning to the studio this week so I'll be brushing off the cobwebs and getting back in gear to get ready for an upcoming February show at City Art Gallery in North Carolina. It was really good to have a break, but I have missed painting. Hopefully I won't be too rusty. Sometimes I find the short breaks can actually help my work though.

Next week should be interesting because I am starting a 10 day juice fast to try and give my mind and body some clarity. I've struggled with some headaches and other health issues of late. I first thought the paint fumes might be the culprit, but I've been away from them for a while and the symptoms persist, though they come and go.

As it is with so many folks, the days leading up to the holidays were full of deadlines for me and I'd not been eating or exercising properly, which I think affected my overall energy level and sense of wellbeing. A detox seems in order. I will be interested to see if the paint fumes in my studio affect me or seem more acute during the fast. I have been so used to that smell that normally I can barely smell anything at all!