Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cedarburg Revisited

Every June, there is a week and a half long plein air painting event in Cedarburg. There are several categories that make up the festival and this gives a good mix of days spent ‘just painting’ with the quick paint events. Quick paint events are always a good time. I do not mind working under the gun, and there is nothing like rushing down a busy street with a wet canvas, or framing wet paintings with floater frames. There were 3 different events that I’d say qualified as quickpaints and also a category that allowed painters to submit 2 pieces known as the Main Event. The Main Event is more relaxed than the quickpaint event , and I was in Cedarburg on the first day to get canvases stamped. Painters could have an unlimited amount of canvases stamped, and a week to complete the paintings to be shown at the opening reception on Friday Evening. I had a box of canvases stamped, and was hopeful to get a pair of nice canvases for the show.
I painted a trout fisherman under a bridge under late light that evening. I didn’t have more than 45 minutes to work and I knew going in that it would probably end up being a throw off sketch. The piece did serve a purpose as it broke the ice in a new town and going into these events I don’t switch it up and pretend to be someone else for a few day’s creating polished pieces. I just paint throw off studies like normal, and hope there is a sweet one in there someplace.
My accommodations for my first leg of the trip fell through at the last moment, and I had to stay at a motel in South Milwaukee. I was looking for a cheap place, and I found it. They even gave me a discount for being on a work trip. I painted the next day for as long as I could, warming up with another throw off study, and then painting the ladies sitting under the red umbrella. Meeting people, while out painting is great. They are normally very respectful, and lately the level of questions they have been asking me has risen. These ladies were a lot of fun to paint, I especially enjoyed putting the warm light, coming through the umbrella onto the shadowed ladys turquoise get up. While packing up, a young couple approached me to talk about the painting. They were so nice that I asked if I could paint them. They agreed and even had a setting in mind. They led me to a path, by the river and sat so that they were backlit. This was probably 5 in the afternoon by the time I got painting (value sketches take me some time!) and the light had failed by 6. I made a decision to leave the painting at the state it was in, rather than to work under the now overcast light. I thanked my new friends, and called it a day.
The next day, there was a Morning quickpaint in Cedarburg. We had 2 and a half hours to paint and frame. When I arrived to paint, the light was not very inspiring, but the clouds broke for an hour, in which I painted quickly. I was able to lay in a pattern, but then the clouds and rain returned. The wind was so bad during this time, that my umbrella turned inside out, breaking it to pieces, just like in a cartoon. I took it off the easel, crumpled it up and put it in a trash can on the street. After the quickpaint, I went home for a couple of days. I was in another painting event, in Evansville WI, and the reception was the day after the quickpaint. I had 2 days off from events, which helped me clear my head and restate what I wanted to say about Cedarburg. I returned on Wednesday and Painted The Cedarburg general store. I was drawn to the abstract design of the stacked buildings, and found that the trees foiled them nicely. This day was hot, and the paint was flowing off the brush. I almost didn’t even use duck sauce medium, but the allure of flowing paint can lead to paintings that don’t dry or easily frame. No umbrella up, of course, but the winds were high and I couldn't have dealt with it, even with the Beauport. I painted a pretty nice late light piece that day too, I'm going to give that one to my mom, because the Cream City bricks reminded me of Europe. Our canvases were due the next day, and I had a couple to turn in.
I decided to turn in the General Store Canvas, and also the Coffee Shop with Red Umbrella piece, but when I got to the Cultural Center, people were asking me where the "figurative piece" was. This was interesting to me, because the people had not seen the piece before, but had heard of it, almost as if the piece had taken on a personality of it's own.... The thing is, the figures felt a little undercooked because I had to pack it up early after the afternoon haze rolled in killing my effect. Even so, I decided to hang the figures by the water and also the General store. I stayed over night at the home of some friends, and returned to paint and enjoy the artists reception and awards on Friday. At the awards, it was nice to see plenty of familiar faces, of artists and collectors. I enjoy looking at paintings, and as there were 167 artists represented, there was plenty to take in. My painting of the Cedarburg general store won the Best of City award. I felt like I was getting drafted to the pro’s because when I got on stage they gave me a new “plein air” magazine hat, which I immediately put on. Good times, like the awards go fast, and pretty soon it was Saturday morning, with another quickpaint event titled "Paint the Festival". The Strawberry Festival is a large event in Cedarburg each summer. I gave a quote to the Reedsburg Independent that there were going to be 30,000 people on the streets that day, but I found out that it is really 130,000. That is a lot of people to fit in 8 or so blocks in a Wisconsin small town. I set up and painted some light hitting those Cream City brick buildings, with some EZ up tents as a foil in the foreground. I made it EZ on myself as well, not using a floater frame. I painted for a couple of hours and retired a  restaurant across the street with a couple of award winning artists from the night before. We got back just in time for the awards of the quickpaint. I remember that the judges were talking about 2nd place, a piece that had good light, an unexpected composition, and a feel for the energy of the festival. I was looking at the body of work wondering which piece they were talking about. When they announced my name I was surprised. I gave some hi fives to my fellow artists, and dedicated the award to them, the painters that made the body of work.
Cedarburg was a well spent time away from home. It is a long way from home, but I really wanted to get out of Reedsburg more often this summer. It is 1/3 of June, and next year I am planning to stay over more days, to continue to explore the sensations of the town.
Hang Loose
Paint the Festival
Cedarburg General Store
Permanent Green Ribbon

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Edge of the Rock - Beloit Plein Air

I have been participating in several plein air painting events this summer. Last week was the Beloit WI, Edge of the Rock Plein Air event, sponsored by Friends of Riverfront. Besides some visits to the skate park in Beloit in 2000, I have not been there in over 10 years. The best part of the 10 day painting event were the people involved.
On the first morning Wendie Thompson pulled up beside me on the interstate, honking her horn and waving. I sped up and followed her to the Visit Beloit headquarters downtown (See first pic, below). As is customary with these events, in order to participate, we had to have our canvases stamped on the back, which proves that the pieces were created during the event.

Following Wendie Thompson

Nicki Meyer was giving tours of the riverfront on her golf cart. I might not have agreed to do the tour if it was sunny, but I'm glad I did. I painted 8 pieces in the 3 days that I participated, all of which I found during this tour.
The first day was not too inspiring to paint. It was dark and cloudy. I ended up painting two pieces, but I'm much more interested in sunny days, so I decided I would come back soon. I had a workshop at my home studio (Chicken Coop Studio) over the weekend, so that kept me at home for the next 4 days.

Shaking hands with Nicki Meyer and Sandy Kincaid

I returned on Monday, June 4 and painted morning until dark. Artists in the event would be allowed to present 2 works, and as always, I need to paint several works to end up with something worthwhile. While painting my first piece of the morning, a 20x24" that did not get entered, I chatted with a man named Bob, who works at the potato chip company Kettle. He was a nice, hard working man, who enjoyed watching me paint so much that he gave me 10 bags of Kettle chips that he had in his car. Beloit has several large companies, and it was interesting talking to Bob and getting the low down of all the different industry in town. I also met Sandy Kincaid. Sandy is passionate for painting, and she is a driving force behind the planning and success of the event. She was combing the area, looking for artists to give bottles of water. This was welcomed, as the day was very hot. She asked if there was anything that she could do to accommodate me further, and I looked over at her and noticed the light hitting her white hat. I asked her if she might be interested in sitting for me later that evening, to paint her into a late light composition, and she agreed. She showed up at the exact time that I suggested, just as I was finishing my second piece of the day. She was seated on some rocks, on the riverbank of the Rock River as I painted her. It was great of her to show up, and I ended up using that painting as one of my pieces for the show.

My palette

The next day, I drove to Beloit again. This time, I returned to the same area that I painted Sandy in her hat, and found a composition. I painted 3 paintings again that day, and was satisfied with the second. It was a composition showing the landing, an area with a large stainless steel sculpture and park/plaza where people go to fish. I had two paintings to exhibit at this point, and I took a day off to prepare for and load my car for a workshop that I held on June 8 & 9 in Lima Ohio.

Working on the piece
I dropped off work on my way to Lima on June 7. While there, I got to visit with some of the other artists, and showed them some of the video's on composition that I have been making for my workshop students this summer. Two of my favorite painters from these events, Jenny Anderson and Jason Prigge, were lurking around that morning, and it's always nice to see what they have to offer. Jenny always works with tasty color harmonies, and Jason stayed up all night painting nocturnes. Jason was framing his work in the parking lot, which is not very much fun as I know from personal experience, especially not after staying up all night.

I am going to make a post about the Lima workshop this week (am hoping to have pictures sent to me) so more on that soon. I was not happy to miss the artists reception on Friday, but was having a great time in Ohio. Everyone from the workshop was partying on Friday evening, as we ate pizza and drank beer after 10 or so hours of painting. As we were leaving the restaurant, I got a call from Nicki, and asked her how she was doing. She replied "I'm doing well, but you are even better, one of your pieces won best of show!"

The workshop continued Saturday, and I had to leave directly after the final critique to get back to Beloit and see the show. As I entered the building, at 10 pm or son, I was surprised to see so many people waiting to greet me. The body of work, as a whole was strong, and I am honored to have one of my pieces selected. Sandy even exhibited her hat, placing it on a table below the painting that I made of her.

A photo from the artists reception, which I could not attend