Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Historic Buford GA Plein Air Festival

Last weekend was the Historic Buford Plein Air Festival and was an event sponsored by the Tannery Row Artist Colony. The painting days were Friday and Saturday. We signed in at 9:00 a.m. on Friday and had whatever substrate stamped we wished to use for both days of painting. Many of us had multiples of canvas, boards and paper stamped so when we arrived at our painting places of choice, we would have several sizes to choose from. We did not paint on all of them!

I decided to paint in oil for this festival -- with the hope of learning better paint application to the board. I used Ampersand Gessoboards which have a slightly slick surface. Only one of my paintings was done on a board with canvas adhered to it. I have begun to enjoy the slick surface and moving the paint around on it instead of the canvas soaking up the paint. (I do want to order some finer linen covered panels and give that a try also.)

I painted three paintings on Friday and two paintings on Saturday and had to choose only two of them to enter into the show and competition. We also had a "Quick Draw" from 4:30 - 5:30 after entering our competition / show work. We signed up to compete in this and met at the Town Square to paint. They rang a bell to start and rang it again to "put your brushes down!" Then we (the artists) voted for our favorite painting and that person won $25 for that. What fun and what pressure!

So . . . here is the first painting I did on Friday and one that I entered into the show and competition. It is and 11 x 14 inch oil painting on the gessoboard. And there is a story to go with it!

Here is the photograph of the scene and then my painting of the scene. Look at the difference in the colors the camera picks up and what my eyes saw! Quite a difference, really. Of course I do push them some, but only a very small amount. And, the camera actually pushes them the other way -- more toward neutral and cannot pick up the many nuances of colors our eyes can see.
The story: I set up to paint about 10:00 a.m. after checking into the festival and getting my surfaces stamped. I drove around first to decide where and what I wanted to paint. I had only barely blocked in the major elements, spending a bit of time getting the points of reference for the building and the railroad in the right places . . . when a large white city maintenance truck with a huge bucket lift on it pulled up beside me and backed into the spot right between me and my scene. The completely obliterated my view!

I asked the passenger when he stepped out, "How long are you guys going to be here?" He looked at me as if I was crazy and said, "We thought you were painting the mansion across the street." I said, "No, I was painting the view I could not longer see toward town!" So, they told me it would only take them about 15 to 20 minutes to put banners up across the road on two poles right there.

So . . . I continued to work on the far right edge where the tree is because I could step back a couple of steps and see it when I looked around the front of the truck. Also he asked me several questions while his partner went up in the bucket and started putting the banners up. He asked and I told him about the plein air painting process and that the artist really only has about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours at most to capture the scene before the light and shadows completely changed. Also, they took longer because another truck stopped in the street and handed them another banner with some conversation about it! Oh well, what was I to do?

Well, 35 to 45 minutes later I took the painting down because I could not finish it . . . and they were still there, but just finishing up. When they started to leave I was asked why and I told them I had wasted the morning and could not finish it because the light was different. They left and I sat down on the grass and pondered my problems. I wanted to cry! After about 5 minutes I decided to put the painting back up on the easel and see if I could just adjust the foreground a little and hit some highlights and not compromise the integrity of the scene as I had seen it earlier. Talk about forced "stop before you do too much" thinking. I was fairly happy with the result -- and it was a very simple composition and painting. Not too overdone which is usually my method.

Guess what? I framed it on Friday night, and was taking it out of my SUV when I dropped it and chipped the black frame. A company that was helping sponsor the festival was "JFM Frames" and they were there with a few frames to help us out. I bought a nicer soft gold frame and put it on the painting -- which one of my friends said was so much better. My black one happened to be the only 11 x 14 frame I had and I thought it being black was pretty safe. Oh, it looked so much better in the gold!

I won an Honorable Mention Award for this painting . . . and then the best was last . . . I also won the Purchase Award by the Buford History Museum . . . a check for $500 and the painting will reside in the Museum! What a night! And after the horror of having my painting time interrupted. You just never know. Here is the painting hanging on the wall at the show with the two ribbons!

I'll do a second post with the other paintings and the views. Hope you enjoyed the story. From near dispair on Friday morning to euforia on Saturday night! It really was a great experience.
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