Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fun in the Sun

I wish I could figure out how to post images more easily while I am away but the wireless connection is pretty low at the hotel. We are having a great time though and spent the day riding bikes and exploring some more. It is still windy here which makes watermedia difficult for me outdoors, so I am mainly sticking to sketching. I am gathering lots of reference material though and taking a ton of photos for further development back home in the studio. Next time I will definitely want to bring my entire oil setup (I will take my chances with the airlines!) as the oils stay open and workable so much better than watermedia, especially in the wind. Other than that the weather is terrific. Clear blue skies and very little humidity at present. We've rented bikes to get around and it's been fun cruising through some of the lesser known side streets. I could get used to the pace of life here! Here I am sketching in one of the hidden alleys:

-Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes

Monday, February 27, 2006

Exploring Key West

We have arrived! We left Richmond on Saturday with temperatures in the 30's and arrived in a warm Key West topping out at 80 degrees! After stopping off at the hotel we went by the Wave Gallery to visit with the owner.

I was a little worried that with the recent hurricanes a lot of the flora would have been destroyed. Key West did receive it's share of destruction from the salt water storm surges, but it appears that the old section has largely been spared. It is beautiful here!

I spent yesterday morning doing some gouache studies of the various plants while Dave conducted important business largely involving lounging in the hot tub. By afternoon thunderstorms rolled in, so no painting.

Weather today is sunny but very windy. I may be able to bring a modified setup to do some sketching, but with these winds I might be limited to taking a lot of digital photos.

As soon as I can figure out how to get my photos downloaded remotely I will try and post some pictures.

Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes

Friday, February 24, 2006

Off to Key West

I'm off for a few days to bask in some Florida sunshine! I have determined to bring my gouaches and watercolors to make for a very portable plein air setup. Sometimes it is good to experiment and move beyond the comfort zone. I was extremely tempted just to bring my oils, but the compactness of watermedia is hard to beat. I managed to fit almost all of my art supplies into a small 9x12" pack. If I can get my ducks in a row, I hope to post to the blog while traveling.

Best wishes,
Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Fun with Gouache

I spent some time yesterday playing with gouache paints so that I could see how I liked working with them as a possible candidate for my portable studio. Gouache is a water based medium; basically it is an opaque watercolor. While as an oil painter I wouldn't exactly call it opaque, it is more so than traditional watercolor. I've worked with many different water media before, including gouache, but it has been some time. Here's what I discovered:

My "oops" moments:
  • Some of the colors don't behave at all like either watercolor or oils. In general the gouache colors were somewhat darker and took some experimenting to get the mix I wanted.
  • The paint dries very quickly! In the future I may rethink squeezing out big blobs on my palette all at once (an overzealous oil painter's habit.) If I painted with these outdoors, I'd definitely need a spray bottle or drying retardant to keep my paints moist and fluid while working in the open air.

My "hey, cool!" moments:

  • A very forgiving medium that is easy to work with. Most mistakes can be "lifted off" with water and brush. The opaqueness allows you to paint over certain passages and change the composition (something not so easily done with watercolor.)
  • Versatile- can be mixed with watercolor and pen and ink. Acts as a watercolor for washes, but can also be laid down more opaquely and mixed with white.
  • Easy cleanup. Like watercolor, just a little soap and water does the trick.

Gouache paintings are treated the same as watercolors in terms of care and framing. They should be displayed under glass and kept out of direct sunlight for best longevity. Gouaches tend to like a rigid surface, so a heavy paper or mat board is a good substrate for this medium. Here is a little painting I did of the Provincial countryside:

Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Preparing for Travel

House guests kept my pretty busy during President's day weekend, so not much time for blogging until now. It has snowed off and on here for the past few days, but nothing really lingers too long. The Key West trip coming up this weekend is seeming even sweeter as I look out my window and see yesterday's cold weather remnants on the ground. All I ask is to just keep the roads and airplane wings clear of ice until I can get down south!

Today I am playing with some art supplies so that I can determine what to bring with me down to Key West. If I had no limitations I would just bring my oils and easel, because in my opinion there is just nothing like them! But a plein air painter or sketcher has to consider the most portable and lightweight options when traveling, and especially when dealing with the airlines, and oils don't always fit the bill.

Typical plein air travel gear can include:
Easel or pochade box with attached tripod
Painting medium
Paint Thinner (for oils- best to buy this at the destination if possible)
Brushes and palette knives

Hat and rubber gloves (optional but I am a messy painter)
Canister for paint thinner (for oils) or water (for other water media)
Small spray bottle filled with water (for water media)
Paper towels
Plastic bag for trash
Bug spray and sunscreen
Bottled water
Small sketchbook and pencils (for working out compositions)
Painting surfaces (canvas, panels, papers, etc.)

Wet panel carrier (for oils)

Other optional supplies might be:
View finder (a little tool for determining your composition on the fly)
Portable chair or stool
Extra bungees and weights (for weighting your easel on a windy day)
A rolling case or dolly to cart all of this stuff around!

By no means am I saying that all of these supplies are required. Some watercolorists get by with two brushes, a watercolor block, sketch pad, a small container, some pens and pencils, and 3 to 5 paint colors, all stashed in a backpack. I think it is all what one feels comfortable with. A studio painter usually has more "stuff" within arms length, and paring down requires some effort and acclimation. I have done both studio and plein air painting, so I feel pretty comfortable with both. Even so the temptation is to bring more (maybe too much) stuff "just in case I need it". I'll try and post my painting kit here once I've figured it out.

-Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Painting of Venice

I was bad today. I cut out of finishing my taxes to work on my painting of Venice. Dave (my husband) is going to be so exasperated because I promised to have all of my tax info done and ready to go by Thursday. Well...he didn't say what time on Thursday now, did he?

Back to the painting: It's not quite done yet but I thought I'd post my progress here. One day while we were in Venice we took a long stroll and got lost in the neighborhood of Castello....Or at least we started out in Castello. Somehow things went awry and we wandered and wandered. We finally ended up in Canareggio, caught in a thunderstorm, at the end of the little peninsula. It was the best day ever! I got tons of pictures, we ditched the maps and just walked where our will would take us.

I think we finally figured out that we could take a vaporetto to Santa Croce, and then on to our hotel in Dorsoduro, but that was late in the day after much, much walking. Any way, I recorded this scene on our Castello to Canareggio to Santa Croce to Dorsoduro afternoon:

This photo is kind of on the dark side because I snapped it in the late afternoon in my studio. I'll post a better, more complete photo on my website when I am officially finished with the painting.

-Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes

Monday, February 13, 2006

Winter Chores

This year one of my main goals is to get organized and streamline my office and studio. There is a great book called Organizing From The Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern that is very helpful in this respect. This book is especially appealing to me because her approach is both creative and accessible. One of her techniques is to set up your environment in stations, according to task. So, for instance, in my studio I have a painting station, a framing station, a storage area, a cleaning station, and so on. Within those stations, every tool or supply has a "home" so that you always know where to find it. That is the idea, any way, and when you set it up like that from the start, it really does work!

But when I moved to the new studio I kind of got away from that, and instead just set up as quickly as possible to get started with my painting. This worked for a while, but now my calendar is filling up with travel plans, (Key West countdown: 2 weeks!!), the upcoming workshop and the outdoor art show. Organization is not an option, it really is a requirement. It is worth taking that extra bit of time to set things up systematically so that I can work smarter, not harder.

This week is also tax week, which I always rather dread even though I have an okay system and can usually get through just fine. I guess it's just that I already do a lot of desk and computer work with my
website design and maintenance. It's a challenge to focus my left brain on papers, reports, and numbers when I have a painting of Venice sitting on my easel calling me.

-Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes

Friday, February 10, 2006

New Italian landscape painting

Here is another painting of the olive groves in Tuscany. Just finished and still wet, it is a gallery wrapped painting with finished edges on all sides:

It measures 24"x24". Here is a side view:

This is a substantial 1 1/2- inch thick canvas that is smooth on the perimeter. Staples are attached to the back of the frame rather than the sides, which allows the artist to paint to the edge.

Most often landscapes paintings are done in, well, landscape format. But every so often there is a scene that lends itself just as well to a square orientation. To me the square is a nice surprise, and a bit more playful and informal. I really enjoyed painting this. I loved the layers of information, and the way the olive groves just went on forever. The light is that of a crisp afternoon in springtime. This is another scene from that beautiful region called La Crete, located in the province of Siena.

I'm titling this painting "Olives Without End". You can see the details about this painting in the Italian Landscapes section of my website.

-Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes

Thursday, February 09, 2006

New workshop forming in Greenville, NC

I'm delighted to announce that I will be conducting a day-long workshop in Greenville, North Carolina on March the 10th.

Painting the Landscape in Oils-
The workshop will focus on the following topics:

*Materials and techniques for the unique challenges of landscape painting

*How to take and work from your own photo references

*A discussion on taking the next step (painting en plein air!)

*Painting demonstration

*Time for participants to work on their own paintings

The workshop is forming now. For more information, please check my website link

- Jennifer Young, Vibrant Landscapes

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

New Italian landscape painting

I mentioned the other day that I was working on developing a much larger version of a painting I had created in mini form. Well, here is the larger painting. It is called "The Secluded Farmhouse" and the canvas measures 30"x40". You can see more details about the painting at my website in the Italian Landscape section.

Sometimes I get the feeling that people think I am kidding about the wildflowers in the springtime scenes of Tuscany and also Provence, but during the Spring, and especially in May, there are wildflowers blanketing the countryside everywhere. It is a magnificent time to be there!

Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes
My website:

Monday, February 06, 2006

Back from Greenville

The art opening was a great time. I don't think I blew anyone away with my "artist's remarks" but I don't think I did too badly either. Honestly I don't remember what I said...it's all kind of a blur. I hope I was at least able to convey my feelings about my work, my motivations and passions. I do remember several people nodding as I spoke, so unless they were just being nice (or nodding off!), it seemed as if they got the gist.

As per usual my husband Dave got a number of shots early on in the show, but not a lot as the evening progressed. He often ends up working the show as much as I do, so the photography kind of wanes, the busier we get. I really enjoyed myself and delighted meeting both new collectors and many other gracious attendees.

I showed with two other artists/painters; Karen Lawrence who does interiors and still life pieces, and Margo Balcerek who paints abstracted still life and landscape. I thought the work as a show was complimentary but created an interesting contrast in styles and approaches. Here is a shot of the installation looking shiny and pristine before the show. My work was installed at the left - on partitions and around perimeter walls, and on the back wall. There is work on both sides of these partitions:

As is the case with most parties, people seem to congregate around the refreshments. I am in the background (in black and red, back to the camera) talking with some of the guests about my work.

It was a really enjoyable opening night. Several pieces sold, and I send out a special thanks to those patrons (if you are reading this, you know who you are) for making the evening so gratifying and memorable.

Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Art opening in Greenville, NC today

My husband Dave and I are heading out of town today to attend my art opening in Greenville, NC at City Art Gallery. I'll try to post some pictures of the show after I return. The gallery owners (really sweet ladies who maintain a smart gallery) asked if I will make a few remarks. Eek. I am much more comfortable painting and writing than speaking, but I told them I will do my best. I'm showing with two other artists so at least I will not be alone in that respect.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Outdoor Art Show this May

I just found out last night that I have been accepted into my first outdoor Art Festival. I'll be participating in Arts in the Park in Richmond, VA in early May:
Location: Byrd Park, Richmond Virginia
Saturday, May 6, .....11AM to 6PM
Sunday, May 7,.....11AM to 5PM

I will be posting more information about this show as the time draws a little closer. This is my first ever outdoor art exhibit, as I normally show in art galleries. But since I live in Richmond I thought it would be a way to meet more of the local audience here and test the waters to see if I liked showing in this kind of venue.

I don't have my tent or panels or anything yet. I figured I would worry about that if I got accepted. Time to start shopping!