Monday, April 22, 2013

My first "First Brush of Spring" 2013

I just got back from the “First Brush of Spring” 3-day paint-out event in New Harmony, IN.  It is a joint effort of the Hoosier Salon and Indiana Plein Air Painters Association (IPAPA).  It is not just a paint-out, but included other opportunities for participation…there were week-long workshops with master artists, a Field-to-Finish competition, a Quick-draw competition, an art sale, and a final “wet paint” competition for any paintings created during the paint out.

As this is my first time attending, I mostly just did the paint-out and the art sale. 

On Tuesday, I packed and travelled and checked in to my hotel.

On Wednesday, I spent the day walking around New Harmony, taking pictures and scouting for good views.  New Harmony has some charming inns, old storefronts and shops, historical buildings and 100-year-old mansions, flower gardens, ponds, the Wabash River, farms in the surrounding area with nice barns and land, etc.  The trees had new, light green, springtime leaves and buds and flowers.

That evening, I attended the Field-to-Finish awards at the New Harmony Hoosier Salon.  I drank some wine and viewed some gorgeous paintings.

On Thursday, I checked in at the Hoosier Salon to have the backs of my canvases stamped for the paint-out.  I painted outside, with a storm system hovering just west of New Harmony for a good part of the day.  The sky was very gray, and I was wishing for some sun.  I am not knowledgeable on how to make my painting look sunshiny when it is not actually sunshiny outside.  So, I painted the colors as I saw them.  I started 2 paintings, but I did not stay out there to finish either one, as I was a bit nervous about the ominous sky.

At one point, while I was just starting a painting of some 100-yr-old mansions, a busload of children walked past me, gathered around me, and oohed-and-awed over my painting (and that of another artist near me named Cindy) that I had just started, telling me it was BEAUTIFUL (so funny!)…it was my underpainting and looked like this:
 They were sweet.  Two boys said that they always wanted to buy a painting, and asked me if I sell them for 10 bucks. 

Later I was painting in the scenic area behind the New Harmony Inn.  There are 2 swans that live back there.  I think they are married. 

On Friday, it was windy, wet and cold outside.  I’m a sissy and not interested in suffering harsh weather conditions.  I set up a studio in my hotel room to finish at least one of the paintings so I could put it in the Saturday sale.  I put my photo on display on my laptop, turned on some music, and had fun all day just working on my painting (I had a tarp down and was very careful with keeping the hotel room clean, just as I would respect the outdoors environment).  
It was nice to take a break from schlepping around heavy awkward equipment.  By the end of the day, and feeling a little toxic from turpenoid fumes, I had a painting that I didn’t hate.
"Swan Lake"     8" x 10"      Oil on Raymar panel
I have seen other plein air paintings done by Indiana artists, and I know that I have much to learn.  IPAPA has many talented artists that are an inspiration and a resource to newbies like me.

On Saturday, I got up early and packed up.  I sprayed my painting with retouch varnish and framed it.  Off to the sale I went, with my one little painting stand and my one little painting (I didn’t bring any other paintings from home for the sale, but it was an option).
My “booth” (tape markers on the gymnasium floor) was next to one of the officers of IPAPA, Beth Forst.  She had a very nice display with many paintings for sale.  She and I chatted it up…she’s fun and was very encouraging and gave me tips.  I walked around and saw the many beautiful paintings that were for sale, and saw various display systems that the artists either bought or rigged up themselves.
After the sale, I walked over to Murphy Park for a casual gathering of artists with their art propped up on picnic tables and free pizza (provided by IPAPA).  One portrait artist that I met, Duane King, pulled out a sketchbook and sketched me for free, signed it, and gave it to me.  What a nice guy!
Then we all headed over to the outdoor wet-paint competition, which many artists participated in (I didn’t but wish I had, as the money prizes were generous), and watched the awards ceremony.

After that, I hit the road for home.

Some unfortunate moments...all were completely my fault:

Setting up under a tree, and distressing over all the debris that fell onto my palette, almost totally covering it over time.

Running my car battery down after sitting in my car and doing a watercolor with the radio on.  It required a jump from a stranger, in the rain.

Setting up to paint, then realizing I forgot my Viva paper towels (my favorite brand) at my hotel room back in Evansville.  I had to pack up everything, reload my car, and had to buy crappy paper towels at a convenience station (no grocery store in New Harmony).

Locking my keys in the car after the art sale, requiring the kind assistance of the town marshall in breaking back in.

In my hotel room I knocked over a bottled water, onto some valued things.  TWICE.

Fortunate moments:

Learning how to pack up and travel as a studio.  I learned so much through this whole process.

Enjoying the time spent with other artists who were sharing in the same adventure.  I got reacquainted with artists I met at Brookville last fall, and met many new artists.  The artists in IPAPA are some of the most friendly, down-to-earth folks I have ever met.  I am so glad I went!