1st Annual Plein Air Convention

It's been nearly two weeks since the return from my trip down to Las Vegas for the 1st Annual Plein Air convention.  I've been asked to share photos and news from the trip so I will try my best to encapsulate it all in one post, so bear with me, this is a LONG one.

Kat Sowa, and I traveled together in style in her nifty Sprinter stocked with food and necessities. Just what a girl needs... a little luxury!

Beside trip master Kat and her Sprinter moments before we hit the road.

We began our trip in the afternoon to rondevue with Thomas Kitts and Michael Orwick in Klamath Falls by nightfall. There were others from the Portland area, but us four decided to make a road trip dappled with painting stops along the way. The ride was full of mountains of every shape, cloud formations, ghost towns, grave sites, empty army bases and salt flats.

Painting at Eagle Lake, CA

On day two, we stopped at Eagle Lake, CA by mid morning to stretch our painting prowess. The light was pretty flat, but the weather was mild giving way to a great warm up. Here's my first piece.

"Eagle Lake Path" 8x6" Oil  

I'm still learning how to handle the oil medium and not so happy with it, but no loss, it's all a learning curve, right?

We continued on our journey into Nevada to spend the night at Walker Lake campsite just south of Reno. As the wheels continued to spin deep into Nevada, the scenery began to change dramatically.  Still overcast but great scenery for another painting break of a salt flat somewhere around Tonopah, NV.

Michael and Thomas dueling brushes

The cloud cover continued to move quickly creating sun spots over the white salt basin.

"Nevada Salt Flats" 8x10 Oil
My attempt to render the sun across this white expanse.

Retro roadside scenery.  Perhaps a painting subject?

 Car art worthy...but hey, somebody's gotta do it.

We arrived at the Red Rocks Casino in the evening for early registration.  We began to meet up with old and new friends and the fun never stopped.  

A howling good time with Hai-Oh Hou and Kat Sowa


Getting started...

Needless to say, we had to get up really early to attend the Marketing Boot Camp that Eric Rhodes was hosting at 6:30 am. Ugh! But it was so worth it and packed with information. The day followed with demo/lectures by artists Richard Robinson, Peter Adams, Jeremy Lipking, Tony Pro, and the laughable Alexey Steele.

Tony Pro, Jeremey Lipking and Alexi Steele during a three-way live portrait demo.

The afternoon session hosted Clyde Aspevig who gave a lecture that made you laugh, cry and spoke deep into our inner creative hearts. Then Richard Ormond, grand-nephew of John Singer Sargent, gave a lecture with photos of Sargent's work that was worth the ticket price of the event.  It gave me Goosegumps! Followed by a dule demo with the talented pastelist Kim Lordier alongside oil painter Ulrich Gleiter. That evening the vendor hall sponsored a cocktail reception for meet and greet that Kat, Thomas, Michael and I enjoyed.  The convention hosts closed it down early and so we poured down into the bar/lounge to sit and visit with new friends.

Info packed day...

Sleepy eyed, we went back to the optional Marketing Boot Camp at 6:30 am.  Luckily I was still running on adrenaline, because they promised us an info packed day. By now, I'm finding an uncommon note from artist to artist.  Each artist approached their work in very  unique ways.  So, if you are inspired to paint like any one of these incredible artists, you will find that over time, your own independent way to paint is going to be different, individual, and unique to YOU.  Each one began and ended their work so completely different than the next.  This is to say, there is no "right" way, but "your" way.  

Ken Auster is my new superhero! (jumbotron)

Off stage discussion of work accomplished.

The long day hosted artists Matt Smith, Scott Christensen, Ned Mueller, Camille Przewodek, Kenn Backhaus, Bryan Mark Taylor and Jean LaGassick.  When all was said and done, we headed down to the artist's lounge to talk more with artists Ned MuellerKen Auster, Kenn Backhaus, Scott Christiansen, and the King of Frames, Randy Higbee. It was a long night and had a great time getting to know these artists and discuss our favorite subject, art, over a  fine glass of wine. (Thank you Randy)


The Russians are coming! 

Unfortunately, I missed the final marketing session because beauty rest was more important than marketing...HA! Actually, I had to spend that time packing my gear and checking out of the hotel.

It was "Russian Day" and by this time my battery was running at 50% speed.  But alas, there were more lectures ahead with Russian Master Nikolai Dubovik from the Surikov Institute of the Russian Academy in Moscow.

Russian Master Nikolai Dubovik was a delight to watch with Russian interpreter. (jumbotron)

Nikolai had a very simple method in his approach to painting, but it left me breathless.  It was a very romantic approach to painting that I had never seen before that I cannot explain it in words.  It's a visual thing, art, right?

Nikolai's session was followed by Art dealer John Wurdeman who specialized in Russian art and finally an enlightening display of commentary by Jean Stern, Executive Director of the Irvine Museum.  Here is a short video with Jean talking about plein air work.  Unusual in closing, they ended this portion of the event with a marching band that marched around the lecture hall. 

Imagine 600+ salivating artists being released outdoors to paint after seeing incredible work on stage, so we headed out to Spring Mountain Ranch for a little fun at the easel.  What do you think of a few raindrops, wind gusts, and sunbursts all at once?  Yeah, I know, I can hear you saying it right now as you read this..."Brenda, you brought the rain with you again, didn't you"  Yeah, well, I can't help it any more than you can.


It was beautiful!

The view of the Red Rock Cliffs as seen from my painting spot.

Most of the artists painted, while some strolled to watch and listen to easel-side instruction. 

Some of the guest lecturers cruised by each artist in their area and made helpful suggestions on the work. One of the guests stopped by my work and, well, he suggested a Burnt Umber underpainting. If you know my work this is not my approach to painting, and so we had an interesting discussion about individuality at the easel.  Thankfully, my reason is that I am a newbie to oils. Then guess what...rain, wind, and frozen fingers made me put it all away ...yeah, it was interesting.

My neighbor and painting pal, Michael Orwick keeping me in line at the easel.


Bonnie Springs/Old Nevada

Our morning began at a staged Ghost Town called "Old Nevada" and we were invited to paint. I took the time to visit like a trick-or-treater to see the paintings produced. At noon we were to gather for a group photo that in my honest opinion was a real highlight of the event. Never had I been surrounded by so many artists who were all on this "high" from the convention and sunny skies.

Michael Orwick, Michael Godfrey visiting with Scott Prior at the easel.

Scott Prior's work

Meeting up with Becky Joy prior the group photo

Group hug with Monica Nelson and history maker, publisher, and all around good guy Eric Rhodes.

Afterwards, Kat, Thomas, Michael and I had lunch with Brian Mark Taylor, Ned Mueller, Jean Stern and his with Linda at the Old Nevada Tavern. Then we four drove out to Red Rocks Park for one last painting before we headed to the airport. The pictures here don't do them any justice, as these rock formations were huge and beautiful.  Coming from the greenery of Oregon, this was new painting territory for me. 

MikeO as the "King of Rock"

My painting "stance" as I navigate the color mixing, composition and unusual subject matter.

Artist Robin Weiss.  "Artists painting artists"

My subject...

My painting. "Red Rock Rounds" 8x10" Oil

The sun continued to shift quickly as I am told these canyon rocks don't sit still.  

So, to recap the experience, it was much like a giant workshop with your easel by your side.  Lucky for us, we did have time to paint after sitting in a lecture hall for 2 days.  The convention was more than I had expected in every way imaginable and I definitely will plan on it for next year like a child waits for Christmas morning.

So thank you for hanging in there with me on this journey.


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Pastel Punch! recap

 Demo of a 20 min timed painting. Emphasis on loosening up.

Last weekend I spent time teaching my Pastel Punch! workshop with six pastel enthusiasts.  Every time I do this teaching stuff, I feel greatly rewarded in a warm, fuzzy kind of way.  My intension was to help my students become better at their craft while adding a few of my favorite exercises to help them loosen up. 

Every day we covered a single topic and painted with that topic in mind to help drive home the idea.
The basics of values, composition, color, and mark-making were what I wanted to stress in my workshop. Nearing the end of the workshop I wrote some thoughts down for everyone to think about...words that I covered in all the lessons.  Kind of like a note pad of sorts.

 Thoughts on the "Good Stuff"

Every day we had a couple of demos. This demo was about mark-making.

Me and my wonderful students (L-R) Debbie, Sue, Diane, Sarah, Marilyn and Nancy....thanks for your time with me.

Being the marketing nut that I tend to be, I asked my students how they found out about my workshop. It was interesting, because they all came from a variety of sources.  A gallery show, on my blog, word of mouth, out in the field, a flyer, and an private invitation.  There seems to be no one way in getting the word out, but to just keep talking about it in every way possible.  

We painted in Kat Sowa's studio and it's what I'd call "THE" quintessential studio.  Located in an old warehouse, it is full all the amenities for teaching and working on art.  It is equipped with ample lighting, with beautiful still lifes, extra tables, heat, a sink, a small and quiet sitting room for eating or resting on the couch, a library of reference books, a few sturdy easels with plenty of space and more.  It is a studio with great energy and creativity and I do hope to teach there again.

This photo doesn't give the space any justice, but believe me it's awesome!

This coming week, I will be heading down to Las Vegas for the Plein Air Convention with a contingency of Portland painting buddies.  I"m sure there will be much to learn and tons of fun connecting with old friends in the field.  If you are headed to the convention, please look for a short blonde with a funny laugh, and do make sure to introduce yourself because I'd love to meet you.

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