Sunday, May 18, 2008

Afterthoughts on Wayne PAF

The high points of my week at the Wayne, PA Plein Air Festival? Getting to paint in Mrs.Hamilton's private estate garden...this was a gardener's dream come true...having been given a guided tour of the ten manicured acres and 6 greenhouses and told I could "paint anywhere" and they hoped I would not be disturbed by the guys moving potted trees outside to stage by the pool, how could I paint anywhere else? This photo is of my painting Mrs. Hamilton's Yellow Border on the easel under my umbrella, where it was painted.

I did manage to find a couple of other locations to set up my easel and put 5 framed paintings up on the walls at the Wayne Art Center's beautiful NEW Davenport Gallery for the gala exhibition preview opening Saturday night.

The 200+ framed paintings that 30 artists completed in 4 days (one an all day soaker) made for a truly stellar exhibit of what's being done in plein air painting these days. Oils dominated with just a handful of watercolors and another handful (mine) of pastels. I was delighted to be part of such a high quality exhibit.

And I am happy to return home and find the apple trees are still in bloom.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Wayne, PA Plein Air Festival

I guess to the uninitiated the word 'festival' makes these events sound like fun...sort of a circus or party. True;it is a spectacle in which the public is invited and encouraged to watch artists make paintings on the spot. And there is usually quite a fancy party on the final night of the event for the opening of the exhibition. And it is fun for the artists to hang out and rub paint stained shoulders with each other all week. And it is usually enjoyable to speak to the public about my art. It is delightful to find new admirers for my work.

But there is quite a bit of hard work and pressure. The sponsoring school or community does not want empty walls for the exhibit and neither do the artists who have often traveled cross country at great expense, lugging paint tubes, easels, brushes, pastel boxes and some decent clothes.

Most of these events finish with a Saturday morning "Quick Draw " during which artists have two hours after the buzzer sounds to begin and finish a painting, slap it into a frame and watch it get auctioned off. (or thrown into the lake)

I will be at my first of the season Tuesday through Saturday in lovely Wayne, PA on the Main Line of Philadelphia. I hope to see some familiar faces there. Come on out and say "hi" to me and 29 other nationally known artists who have been juried in to this Plein Air Festival.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Shad Tree

In my neighborhood the shad (service berry) are blooming. This high key painting`is done on a homemade panel of acid-free foam core and soft blue colourfix paper. I used Girault, Unison and Diane Townsend soft pastels with some pastel pencils. I find most of my painting locations within a two mile radius of my studio. I work out of the back of my Prius with the pastels laid out there as well as on my half box French easel. This paining took about two hours in the field. It is 8 x 10" and will sell at the studio for $325 framed in a 3" rustic gold wood plein air frame with no mat.

Of course two hours is not the whole story; first I had to learn how to paint a painting in two hours (and sometimes the time is chalked up to an unsuccessful painting...not everything is worthy of a frame), then I had to order & assemble the materials and make the panel, drive around assessing different spots for their potential to yield an interesting painting, paint while trying not to cover my face with pastel and swat gnats at the same time, then bring it back in to the studio and evaluate the piece for strengths and weaknesses, make minor changes and improvements, photograph it, cut and wash glass, attach spacers, secure in frame and enter into database and finally market and sell it. I suspect this is what people want to know when they ask me how it long it took to paint a specific picture. Some artists answer the question with "Two hours and thirty years" which I think is quite appropriate. As I've said's a hard job, but someone has to do it.

And on a perfect day like this I'm glad it's me.

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