Plein Air Competition
June 6-17, 2017
Here is a recap of my adventure:
"FISH OUT OF WATER"
Oil - 8 x 6 inches
Yup, that's me - a fish out of water! Wondering what in the world I was doing painting in this prestigious plein air competition with the likes of - oh, Tom Nachreiner...Bob Beck...not to mention a host of other nationally recognized and acclaimed artists and judges. So I was rambling along the beach at Port Washington, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan when this dead minnow catches my eye. So I'm thinking, "I can't paint a dead fish", but I just couldn't resist it's colorful iridescence! While I painted, the waves kept coming in stronger and closer, and before I knew it my little dead fish was swept up and washed a few feet away. I had to rescue him several times, and my feet were soaked, as were the legs of my easel and my gear bag. Oh, and everything (including my brush carrier) was full of fine, silky sand which was transported back to my studio.
"TURQUOISE AND LIME"
Oil - 12 x 9 inches
I spotted these colorful umbrellas on a patio. This is Tello's Restaurant in Port Washington, and it features a combination of Mexican and Greek fare. I set up my easel in the corner of the parking lot and quickly blocked in the dramatic shadows cast on the awning and the umbrellas. Then I got really excited when the patio filled up with people. I didn't eat there, though I wish I had. The food and atmosphere inside is supposed to be very good.
"MRS. BARBUTO GOES TO CEDARBURG"
Oil, 12 x 12 inches
The sun moves quickly in the morning and I was intrigued by the beautiful slice of light and shadow on the window mannequin's turquoise dress. The owner hangs baskets in the entryway every morning, and her daughter sweeps the steps. When I was nearly finished, I thought the painting needed someone walking by, window shopping. As I observed people strolling the street, I made a mental note of a woman that caught my eye: how the light hit her form, and a general idea of her build. She kept walking, but I painted a figure, put a dress on it, and what do you know, it looks just like my 10th grade typing teacher, Mrs. Barbuto!
Oil, 10 x 8 inches - SOLD
I love painting nocturne scenes, and I had my eye on these well-lit confections in a bakery window for a couple of days. Storms were predicted and I was afraid I'd lose my chance to capture the scene, so after having already painted two pieces during the day, I went back downtown after dark and set up on Washington Avenue to paint. Lots of people were out for an evening stroll, walking their dogs, riding bicycles. Even a police officer was walking the street, checking the business doors to make sure they were locked. I never felt so safe! I finished the painting just before midnight. It sold at the opening reception.
"ON THE ROCKS AT LAKE MICHIGAN"
Oil, 12 x 9 inches
The competition was open to the entire Ozaukee County in Eastern Wisconsin. Port Washington is a beautiful harbor city on Lake Michigan with fishing boats, docks, restaurants, parks, and miles of beautiful shoreline to devour! This was painted just before sunset, looking east over the seemingly endless body of water.
"FIDDLEHEADS COFFEE SHOP"
Oil, 8 x 6 inches
One of the Cedarburg Gems portion of the competition
I seem to be drawn to awnings and umbrellas. I love how light and shadows play and the shapes and angles that they form. It was really hot and humid, so I set up across the street under a large overhang ensuring that I would be well protected from the scorching sun, and/or thunderstorms that were on the way. The sun was beating down so hot on the coffee shop that nobody sat outside. I painted anyway. Finally two brave women sat down with their drinks and chatted long enough that I could capture their likenesses.
Oil, 8 x 8
Ah, another dreaded quick paint, when one is required to produce a completed painting within a very short time and be judged for it! My blank canvas was registered, stamped, and clocked in at 9:11 a.m. on the morning of the event, allowing 2-1/2 hours to travel to my sight, paint, frame, and run back to headquarters by my 11:41 a.m. deadline to turn in my painting. The awning was rolled up, and I wished it was down. The owner and his sidekick were busy cutting hair, but I mustered up the courage to ask if it was possible for them to open the awning. They cheerfully obliged, but said they closed at noon and it would be rolled back up then. No worries, I had to be done before that in order to make my deadline.
"CEDAR CREEK WATER DANCE"
Oil, 6 x 8 inches
Another one of the Cedarburg Gems portion of the competition
Rolling my paint gear around town looking for my inspiration and a shady place to paint, I was relieved to end up along the creek where there was a delicious cool breeze and the soothing sound of moving water. It turns out that several artists had painted this same scene, but each one is different, from a slightly different vantage point, and of course, the individual artist's interpretation, technique, and style.
Oil, 14 x 11 inches
Cruising the residential areas (all within walking distance of downtown) it seems every home in Cedarburg is kept up immaculately, with beautifully manicured lawns and lush, abundant flower gardens. The yellow house at the end of the street caught my eye, and it was adorned by beautiful pink rose bushes belonging to the brick house on the right. That's Susan out sweeping her sidewalk. She filled us in on all sorts of places to see and paint. I decided to include her in my painting.
"TOE TO TOE"
Oil, 12 x 9 inches
Another awning. This is the Cedarburg Coffee Roastery, a stop every morning for my caffeine habit. This couple was having a long, animated visit. Sometimes she leaned in and he leaned back, sometimes he leaned in and she sat back. And sometimes they both leaned in together. I noticed their toes remained close. And when they got up they hugged and kissed good-bye.
"CEDAR CREEK WALKING BRIDGE"
Oil, 8 x 6 inchesLooking for a spot to paint, and trying desperately to escape the extreme heat, I wandered behind a church along the main street and much to my delight found shade, cool, and quiet! This was a beautiful and tranquil scene, and I'm not sure I did it justice.
"MISTY MORNING WALK ON LAKE MICHIGAN"
Oil, 8 x 8 inches
When I arrived on the beach at Lake Michigan there was a thick, misty fog hanging over the shore. I assumed the fog would burn off. I was wrong. The fog remained the entire time I painted, though it varied in intensity, as sometimes it lightened, and then it would get thick again and create a mysterious veil of vapor, giving a dream-like appearance to the beach.