Homer Alaska - Arts

Story last updated at 6:08 PM on Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Painting characters: boats and mariners

Staff Writer


Jeanne Young's paintings show the charm and personality of watercraft and the mariners who run them. Her work is on exhibit at Picture Alaska Art Gallery through August.

Looking at Jeanne Young's exhibit, "Portraits of Personality," at Picture Alaska Art Gallery, it's clear she loves boats. Her paintings show the charm and personality of not just the watercraft but the mariners who run them. Growing up in Wrangell and Petersburg, and then returning to Naknek and Hoonah after living away, it was boats that pushed her to develop her art skills.

"I've always loved to paint," Young said. "Boats were one of the things that made me want to pursue my skills to do them justice. ... You get this fabulous glow of sunlight reflecting onto it out of the water."

Young went to college at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, Ore. As girl she moved around Southeast Alaska as her father worked in logging camps, but later lived in Moolalla, Ore., in the Wilamette Valley. She studied engineering and put her artistic skills to work helping to design farm machines. Engineering gave her discipline in her art, she said.

She met her husband, Ben Young, at the Clackamas County Fair. Both had ranching backgrounds.

"I was selling cattle and he was riding bulls," she said.

Young convinced her husband to move to Alaska after family visited here and told him about the great fishing.

"I remember the adventure of it all," she said of her childhood. "Everything was wild and untamed. I remember as a little girl catching fish that were as big as I was."

While in Hoonah and Naknek she studied art through video courses and trips to Lower 48 workshops in Seattle, Arizona and North Carolina. After 15 years in remote Alaska, the Youngs moved to Wasilla to get closer to civilization.

"I was ready," she said. "It's hard to pursue an art career when you have to spend $450 for a plane ticket just to get to the road system."

Even homeschooling her three girls and one boy, Young has found time to make a career. She started exhibiting in 2005. This is her fifth show at Picture Alaska. Lynda Reed, the gallery owner, has always been supportive, she said.


Jeanne Young

"I worked really hard to get my paintings up where I felt comfortable pursuing a gallery," Young said. "She was the first one to give me a show."

Living in Southeast, Young met a lot of fishermen while working as a waitress. Many boats there were wooden hulled, painted white with beautiful lines.

"The fishermen had as much character as the boats," she said. "The boats down here in Homer are the same thing. The names they give them, the way they treat them ... I think that's what attracted me to the boats."

There's also the power of the sea, she said.

"Water is so exciting. It's so scary and exciting at the same time," Young said. "There's a lot more going on when you're painting the boats."

Young will get a chance to feel — and maybe paint — some of that excitement later this month when she visits Homer again to sail on a boat for the last Homer Yacht Club Regatta.

"Harbor scenes are nice," she said "I think that's some of what I'm missing is action out on the water."

Young's show remains on exhibit through the end of the month.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.