This is going to be a long, long post, predominantly image based to help recap my Plein Air Easton! adventure. For those who wish to follow along my plein air journey, read on!
Plein Air Easton! (yes, it's supposed to have that exclamation point) unfolded into its 9th year unofficially starting on Thursday, July 11 and then officially beginning Saturday, July 13 through Sunday, July 21. Plein Air Easton! organizes and runs this event like a well oiled machine. They have a volunteer base of over 200 enthusiastic volunteers, all highly trained and supportive of the event. The best part about it was that they have a lot of fun doing it, creating good vibes all around. This event is much like "the perfect storm" for lack of a better analogy. Due to its huge collector draw, endless scenery, enthusiastic volunteer base, organizational flow, pre-paint out events, local business support, hosted dining events, suggested paint out locations, and evening soire's on historic plantation estates as well as meeting the artist's needs from time to time, this event has what it takes to make for the best Plein Air event in the US that attracts established artists from around the world. And it doesn't hurt that it is non-stop fun!
To start off, each artist is allowed to enter two (2) pieces into the main gallery for judging. This is the artist's best works from the week. The artist may also paint as many as they wish, but may only submit 8 additional pieces to be stored in the "library", acting as replacements to the competition pieces in the gallery as they sell. The artist may rotate their work from the library into the gallery after judging has been announced to freshen up the walls. This gives the collector chance to view additional fresh work as the weekend show continues. Collectors may also go up to the library to view additional pieces by each artist, but only with a personal shopper. This includes all artists. A line forms and most sales occur here.
Wednesday July 10th, 2013
I started my day with a 4:00 am alarm and caught a flight from Portland, OR, and landed early evening into Baltimore, MD with rain on my rental car windshield. The drive to Easton took about 1 1/2 hours as dusk turned to night. I was very tired upon my arrival to my host's home, but happy to finally meet them in person. I took a quick look at my shipment of frames that were stored in the basement that I nicknamed "Gepetto's Workshop" to see if any were damaged and found that all were in good shape. Time to crash from the exhaustive trip out.
Thursday July 11
Just outside of the Avalon Theatre, the HQ for PAE.
The next morning I checked into the Avalon Theatre to introduce myself and get my info pack. The PAE (Plein Air Easton!) team had arranged some pre-event opportunities allowing those early birds time get acquainted with other artists, all while scouting out painting venues. I have found that it is a good idea to arrive early to these plein air events so I can scout out venues and not to waste time driving around during the actual painting event. Since there was rain, my fellow early birds and PDX buddies Eric Bowman and Thomas J Kitts tried to figure out just what to do with this rain.
One of the suggested pre-event areas to paint was on Tilghman Island, known for it's Watermen and their dying culture dating back to 1707. I decided to paint the little gas station/bait and tackle shop but unfortunately, I crashed and burned on that one...so sorry folks, I'm not sharing it. HA! (We all get them from time to time.) This was my first introduction to the humidity and heat, all with the threat of sprinkles. The town is very friendly, and while I was out painting, a few locals brought me tall cold glasses of iced tea and chilled water. They sure know how to make a guest feel welcomed. Then afterwards I headed back into town to check out a few painting locations and then off to a free complimentary Maryland Crab Feed at Harrison's Chessapeake House with other early bird artists. The organizers of this crab feed also added a small show of the day's work and offered up an "Artist's Choice" award as well as an opportunity for pre-event sales. What fun before the fun, eh?
My new friends Ken DeWaard, Carol Peirson (to my right), and Shannon Troxler eating up our delicious fresh Maryland Crabs with corn on the cob and potato salad.
After the long day, I returned to my host's home and showered off all the sticky sunscreen and dragged myself into bed by 12:00 am
Friday July 12
This day I linked up with Thomas Kitts and we drove out to a few areas of interest, one being the entrance to an estate that dates back to Colonial times steeped with plantation relics and slavery. Gosh, I'm such a West coast gal, this is not a part of history I expected to see, making our American history all too real. The Wye Estate dates back to the early 1650's and had a long graveled entrance with cameras and an electric gate. Oooh sounds so intiguing. We did not enter as we would have trespassed.
The entrance to the Wye Estate
We scouted out a few other areas, considered interior painting and then somehow Thomas scored a tent from the Avalon allowing us the comfort to paint this little farmhouse that had a wonderful puddle in front of it. I was a happy camper!
Painting an abandoned farmhouse under canopy.
"Plantation Relic" 16x12" Pastel Sold
That night was the mandatory orientation for the artists along with our first opportunity to canvas stamp our panels. They provided a few goodies to much on as well as a hosted bar! Wow, I like this PAE!
Here, doing the "Vanna", is Jessica Rodgers (our fearless cheerleader and all around great guide) introducing the key team members of the Avalon Foundation. And what a great team they were!
Aterwards a few of us went out to eat dinner and then I returned back home to my host's home (11:30 pm) for another night of rest. Tomorrow begins the official start for the event.
Saturday July 13
Opening Paint out and Dinner at the Hope House. A long ride out down a graveled road deep in Talbot County rests the Hope House, another historic plantation that houses a boat house, gardens and oodles of scenic property. We were allowed to arrive as early as noon to begin painting for the evening soire'. By 8:00 we were to share our finished and framed works on our easels under a large white tent, while a wonderful catered dinner was served. Again, hosted bar....ummm this could get interesting.
Unfortunately all day, I was a bit paranoid of getting ticks on the estate. I have been warned over and over by other local artists how bad Lymes Disease is and how easy it comes by just by walking in grass or by chance one drops from a tree overhead. Eeek! To top it all off, I must have ingested something with gluten that made me unfocused and disoriented. The mind fog raised by 3:00 in the afternoon thankfully, and was then able to create and concentrate on my work. Celiacs reminds me I'm human. :(
Fellow artists, Zufar Bikbov, Eric Bowman, Thomas Kitts
"Hope's Boat House" 12x16" Pastel (available at Out of the Fire $1,450)
The evening with our work framed and all lined up under the tent and ready for a wonderful dinner with the collectors, volunteers, and Avalon supporters. Our work was for sale, giving us an opportunity for pre-sales.
Sunday July 14
This morning I followed Thomas to check out a destination he wanted to paint in Oxford called Cutts and Case Shipyard. Of course I love water and boats, so as a newbie, it was a treat to be introduced to this location.
The scenic view at Cutts and Case Shipyard
Here is my setup and view
"All Tethered Up" 12x16" Pastel Sold
By now the temps are averaging around 94 degrees with no respite in sight as well as the blurry rush of events folding into one another. I began to employ my Frog Togg which is a handy towel designed to chill once wetted down with water. As it evaporated, it cooled me off significantly, allowing heat tolerance. I highly recommend it for those painters headed out to hot areas to paint.
After painting the boats, I returned back to Gepetto's Workshop to do some framing and begin inventorying my work. I then attempted my urban scene that I had scouted out earlier in the week. While I was painting this, I was interviewed by the promotions team, Tim and Talley while I chatted away about my painting process. See my previous post HERE for the video interview.
"Backsides" 16x12" Pastel (available at Out of the Fire $1,450)
Then off to an English Beat concert at the Avalon Theatre. A lot of fun and dancing. I ran into Hai-Ou Hou and was so excited to see her that we proceeded to knock some guy's drink out of his hand and onto all of us! Gosh, that's how you fizzle out a powder keg! Ugh.
Monday, July 15
All the days are beginning to run into one big blur, the days speeding by so fast with little rest and exhaustive hard work, lunches and dinners out with new and old artist friends alike, all topped with heat and humidity. Word got out that there were a few artist casualties who were hit with heat exhaustion. You never know what will happen from moment to moment. By now I was on a good stride and beginning to relax with the expected temps and the lay of the land. Easton is a small town and pretty easy to navigate. My favorite spot to start my day was at the Red Hen Cafe. Most of the artists start their day here with a cup of Joe and a plate of scrambled eggs and check in with the volunteers by pinning their painting location on a giant map.
That morning, I found a really cool abandoned farm house that I started to paint, but before long the light had changed and it was getting very hot out there so I decided to give it another day to complete. I honestly don't know what day it is at this point nor do I have any idea what is going on in our world outside of painting. It is all about creating your best work and resting, eating and gathering with artists over lunch. Honestly the best part about the plein air circuit is the comeraderie of newfound friends and stories to share over a meal. So much laughter and good discussion over the silliest to most profound things we endure over our painting careers. No wonder the world is at a standstill. It has to wait for another day, but not our art.
That evening I was invited to a private dinner and gathering of artists on yet another estate. This time we were encouraged to bring our painting gear, but I decided to leave it behind, after all, I wanted to rest and visit. When I arrived down the long curvy and mysterious road to the private estate, I found my way to a guest house in which tonight's host lives in. The atmosphere was thick with humidity...you could see the weight of the air. I had never seen such a sight with the sun setting over the water and distant shorelines across this inlet of water. The thought of The Great Gatsby came to mind. One of the guests, David Grafton, had arrived early with his easel and was set up with his finished acrylic painting. He invited me to give it a try and so I took the challenge and quickly painted a small 6x8" painting of the sunset on water inlet. There in view was a beautiful boat house, a thick humid haze and fire flies! I hadn't seen fire flies since I was in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in '87! Enchanting was the evening and so was the delicious food and company. Especially the potato salad!
The estate owners' boat house
The view before me.
I painted for pure pleasure, a 'no pressure' sunset piece.
I liked it so much I bought a frame and entered it into the show.
Sunset at Wye, 6x8" Acrylic Sold
Tuesday, June 16
I returned to my abandoned farmhouse and completed it solo with nobody around. Here is where the metal hits the pavement. While out and no potty stop anywhere to be found, plenty of fluids to keep me hydrated, I call a stop to painting. This is what Plein Air painting entails. Yup, roughing it. Thankfully it was not on a busy byway. Whew! Upon completion of this piece, a grumpy old farmer arrived in his truck and glared at me as I was getting into my car to leave. Gaads, get a life!
"Homestead" 16x20" Pastel (available at Out of the Fire $1,825)
Then off to a suggested painting location, The Vanishing Landscape: The McCord Building. This was an old laundry facility that had gone under disrepair and left abandoned. There are now plans to utilize it for Non-profits and the like, soon to be renovated into a wonderful business building. I love old urban stuff to paint and often feel that it is my job to make the ugly look beautiful with paint. It seemed alive while I was painting it, full of old stories... perhaps there were ghosts?
My set up with the scene before me.
"She Once Sat" 16x20" Pastel. Sold
By now I have to share with you that I have never plein air painted this large before. However, it was nice to get large as well as it makes a statement on the gallery walls. (It was shared with me prior the event that a lot of the work on the walls are very large and the smaller typical plein air pieces get "lost" on the walls.) This location offered a special award for the best "Vanishing Landcape" and so I entered this one to be considered for the special award.
Again back to Gepetto's Workshop to frame up and take a cool breather from the heat.
That late afternoon, I headed out to St. Michael's to paint a quick piece prior a hosted "Starving Artist's" dinner at Theo's Restaurant. Again, another crash and burn piece so I won't share it.
I had the pleasure to sit dinner side with Eric Bowman, Ken DeWaard and David Csont and Jessica Rodgers. What fun company!
Starving Artist's Dinner, provided by Theo's Restaurant in St. Michaels, MD.
Lt to Rt: Eric Bowman, Ken DeWaard, Brenda Boylan, Jessica Rogers, and David Csont
Wednesday, July 17
The hottest day of all, 98 degrees with a heat index of 107. Whew, time to work in the shade or stay indoors.
The Red Hen cafe and restaurant...My first stop for the day gathering alongside with the artists.
Then on to painting Mike's Barbershop on Goldsborough Street.
"Clip Joint" 16x12" Pastel (available at Out of the Fire $1,350)
Plein Air Easton directs the audience to The Red Hen "hub".
After painting "Clip Joint" I took a breather and went back to Gepetto's workshop and framed it, took a quick shower, then off to a wonderful hosted Volunteer Dinner at the Tidewater Inn. Earlier in the week, I had personally set a goal of getting in one nocturn painting. So, that evening I finally set out to paint a dress shop window for an hour long session. A lofty goal alongside Hui Lai Chong, Kirk Larson, and Mark Lague, but I piddled out after an hour and a few overly curious visitors in a heavy blanket of heat. HERE is a fun video created during the event about nocturn painting featuring those listed artists.
Thursday, July 18
It's the last day to paint and I set out a bit later after a long night's rest. First out to the Red Hen for something to eat alongside John Brandon Sills and others over a cup-o-Joe prior my final piece. I had wanted to do a street scene and set up on the shaded side with my stool. I was focused and happy, and all the while this piece just nearly painted itself. By now the town is beginning to swell with visitors anticipating the big event....The Friday night opening gala.
Painting my last piece for the event on Washington Street. By now I am really feeling good about my work and feeling relaxed. It's what I call "finding my mojo". This piece ended up being my best one (by my standards) and so I entered it into the competition.
"Walk, Drive, Stop" 12x16 Pastel
(available at Out of the Fire, $1,450)
The team blowing off steam with waterballoons
Talley, Jessica Rogers and Al Bond
From 7-9 pm artists could to turn their work into the Museum and so I took a breath and handed in what I had completed and framed. What a wonderful relief and feeling of success. I was ready to celebrate!
That evening, the artists were invited to a lecture "A Veiw form the Other Side of the Easel" with Tim Newton (last year's judge) and Perter Trippi (Editor of Fine Art Connessiuer and this year's Juror). This was a very interesting discussion with questions and commentary from the audience. Afterwards, off to dinner and a glass of wine with some artists to celebrate.
Friday, July 19
Today I just relaxed and enjoyed the town. I also scouted out Saturday's Quick Draw subjects in the core of the town.
Alley ways abound in Easton. Perhaps a 'Quick Draw subject?
Where it all happens
Artist's turn in their work.
The Library of extra work. All are available for viewing
but only with a "personal shopper" to properly handle the works.
By late afternoon, everyone had turned in their works and were in a joyous mood. I had a quick bite to eat alongside David Grafton and then goofed off with the video crew outside the Avalon prior the big soire'.
The Museum walls are hung.
Me with my two chosen pieces "She Once Sat" (above)
and "Walk, Drive, Stop" (below) prior judging.
Cecie and Kirk Larsen admiring a nude painting and the similarities of the model.
Collectors make their purchases. Purchases averaged 1 in every minute.
Awards announcement with Don Demers on stage.
A huge congratulations to Grand Prize winner Garin Baker for "A Buck Twenty a Bushel"
Looking down into the pavillion from the Library level above.
Celebrating with Crystal, Ron and Hai-Ou.
Saturday, July 20
If by now you are still reading this, you're a true follower. Congrats! But wait, there's more!
By now the energy has moved from the artists to the collectors. Today is the Quick Draw starting at 10:00 am. Artists usually set up early and then grab a bite to eat. Anyone may participate and it is a big attraction for the huge crowd. Later, Don Demers announced the awards for the quick draw, then off to lunch.
John Brandon Sills tee shirt. I want one!
My Quick Draw piece, "Room for More", 12x9" Pastel
The crowds come out en force for the Quick Draw, snatching up works with in the first 2o minutes. Show is up for 2 hours and then awards announced by 2:00 pm
A lunch celebration at Bannings Tavern after the Quick Draw with artists Ken DeWaard, Tim Bell, Hai-Ou Hou, Larry Moore, Thomas Kitts, Patrick Lee, Steve Griffin and Sara Poly
Later that evening, Eric Bowman had arranged a final celebration dinner with a group of artist friends at Portofino's. It was so awesome to be included with these fine artists, so much to be grateful for.
Dinner with artists across to my right: Kim Van Der Hoek, Greg LaRock and Eric Bowman
Artists to across to my left: Mark Lague, Garin Baker, Peter Trippi (editor) and Ken DeWaard. Speeches were plentiful.
My dining buddy seated to my left, Ned Mueller
My incredible, wonderfully fun hosts Amy and Richard. Thanks to these two gracious hosts for all my late nights and early risings, messy studio, and package drops.
One of my newest collectors!
Artists sign off inventory and then retrieve works from walls and library. This is where all the last farewells are made. It was much like the end of a summer camp.
Gepettos' Workshop with Lizzie the dog helping pack up my shipment home.
My final leg home...DFW to PDX
Congratulation to you, you reached the end! In summary, we had 8 full days of painting in hot and humid conditions, of which I painted fourteen pieces. I framed and displayed twelve of them and luckily 4 of them have new homes, got dozens of mosquito bites, drank a case of bottled water, and drove 245 miles and nearly missed my connection in Dallas. Plein Air Easton! sold $328,000 of art in 3 days! You may ask "Is it all worth it?" Why of course, yes. The new friends I made from around the US and beyond, the gracious people of Easton and the wonderful team at the Avalon Foundation who make it all happen, yes, it is so worth it. Thank you Plein Air Easton!
For more info on Plein Air Easton!, go HERE.
Listen to an interesting radio show on WAMU 88.5, go HERE.