Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition

Vineyard in Naples, 9x12 pastel by Adriana Meiss-Honorable Mention
Yesterday I came back home from another wonderful 5-day experience in Canandaigua and what made it even more special is that my painting Vineyard in Naples was awarded an Honorable Mention by juror Lori Putnam. This is the 3rd year I've been accepted to this competition, and while last year there were six or seven pastellist, this time around I was the only one!  
I was somewhat apprehensive because previous to this event, I had not painted en plein air this year. Below is an account by day.

Wednesday June 4th
Arrival  in the afternoon and stamping of boards. The stamping is done to assure all work was produced during the event and not beforehand. Ampersand boards are the best because they  minimize the fuss of framing. But one thing was clear to me: organizers of these events aren't that familiar with the logistics of framing pastels. For example, if you use paper, you can have it stamped with a seal, but then you'll have to use a backing board to frame it, which will cover the seal, thus making the stamping procedure somewhat pointless. I asked what to do about it and was told not to use a dust jacket. In lieu of dust jacket, I used framers tape to seal the boards to the frame so that the stamping was still visible.

There was a get together and light diner that day at the Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery. It was nice to see some returning artists and meet new ones. Afterwards, I went to my hostess' home which was nearby. I had met Donna two years ago during my first competition there. She had seen me painting the first morning and she stopped to converse; we exchanged phone numbers and she invited me to stay at her home next year. Well, that did not happen then, but this year, she called me and renewed her invitation which I gratefully accepted. 

Thursday June 5th
After a light breakfast I headed outdoors and scouted the neighborhood for a nice garden or house to paint. I found and interesting red house at a corner. The sun was hitting only part of it and I liked the orange color of the painted brick in sunlight as well as the green shutters. The painting did not come out the way I expected, as I did too much blending and now that I look at it, the flowering bushes should be darker.  While I was at work, I talked to two of the neighbors who told me interesting stories about the house, which is a historic site. One story is that the workers who build the Sonnenberg mansion (the "mechanics") were housed there, and another that it was a school for African- American children. Also, while there, a group of 5th graders came and surrounded me. They lifted my spirit with their show of enthusiasm about my work. 
The Mechanics House, 8x10 
Later, I headed to Sonnenberg Gardens for a second painting. I wanted to paint a pond with reflected clouds, but the weather was changing rapidly and the effect I wanted was lost. I settled for a distant view of the mansion from another pond. If I had moved more to my right, I would had had a better view of the mansion, but I was too lazy and did not want to give up the convenience of the spot I had found. While I was careful with my use of greens, I did not get the effect I wanted.
The Mansion, 9x12
Right after a late lunch my desire to start another painting waned so I went home to get ready for the Meet the Artist event at the Yatch Club. We all were allowed to bring previously done work for display and sale. After the event, hearing that other participants were going to the lake to paint, I headed that way, but not seeing anyone and not wanting to be alone in case it got dark, I went to the grocery store to purchase dinner and things for next day. On my way home though, the beautiful sunset directed me again to the pier where I did not even bother with my setup. I got a board, a box of Rembrandts, and sat at the pier to paint with the board on my lap. The changing light went from yellow to orange to neon pink in less than 30 minutes, but as fast as I tried to paint, I was not able to finish it. I was afraid of chasing the light to the point of losing the original effect. I went to bed not feeling too happy with my day's effort.

unfinished, 8x10
Friday June 6th
I got up early again and went directly to a yellow house with a large flowering pink bush in the front yard that I had seen the day before; I imagined it could be a good subject with the sun behind it and I was not disappointed. Before starting I tried to visualize the effect I wanted and proceeded accordingly. I used first a midtone blue  for the flowering bush; also, I avoided using too strong darks or pure white in the painting,  and tried to use more neutral greens and yellows. I was finally feeling confident!

Warming Up, 12x9
While cleaning up, a woman approached me to tell me that her twin daughters had been among the group of students who had seen me painting the red house the day before, and now couldn't stop talking about it and wanted art materials. That made my day!

For my second painting I went to Notre Dame, a retreat west of the lake, where some of the artists were staying. The view of the lake from there was beautiful but I did not feel like painting the same scene as everyone else.  I went instead to the entrance road which had called my attention in the first place. I liked the composition and the simplicity of the scene with the angular shapes, and the blue of the sky.  Once again, I reined in the desire to use very darks and brights and tried instead to concentrate on the temperature and color shifts on the road and grasses. I also tried to work on mark making.

Road to Peace, 12x9
  Feeling I was on a roll, I headed south looking for another location to paint. I ended up on the south end of the lake, and then having lunch in Naples. Right after, I set up my gear by a nearby vineyard I had seen the previous year, that offered the chance to show distance in the painting. This was a learning piece because a few minutes into the painting I became aware of how often the light on the different objects changed due to the passing clouds. I needed a plan if I was to get somewhere with my painting, so I decided to go for bluish hills and yellow middle ground trees and that made it work for me.
...almost done!
  Three good paintings in one day was great, but even so and just in case, I continued scouting the area on my way north. The next great scene was tempting, but it would have required longer time to finish and at that point I realized that my body was screaming for rest and there was still the framing to do.

That evening  I managed to frame the three paintings of the day, before getting ready for a demo by Lori Putnam. Back home, despite being so tired, I continue framing until 1:00 AM

Saturday June 7th
While loading my three framed paintings I realized that it would have been smarter to frame at least one more just to have a replacement in case of a sale. So, back to framing in a rush. I managed to deliver the paintings on time and still have about 40 minutes to scout the area for the Quick Draw event which was supposed to start at 9:30 AM.

It did not take me long to find my subject, but the funny thing is that it drove away! I had chosen a blue car parked on a shaded sidewalk that offered a very nice composition with strong darks and lights. I was ready, just waiting for the clock to read 9:30 when two guys got into the car ready to drive away. Oh no! I needed a car on that spot. Another artist suggested to move my own car there and luckily for me, mine was nearby so that's what I did!

A Shaded Spot, 9x12 - Quick Draw
I finished the painting with a few minutes to spare (we were given 2 hours) and even though the shape of the car is not accurate, I decided to leave it alone because to me it was the idea, the atmosphere and the temperature that I wanted to express in the painting. It did not win in the Quick Draw, but I received several compliments and consider it a personal win because I tried to work in a loose way and succeeded! After this event I went home and tried to sleep so I would be refreshed for the award ceremony and art preview that evening.

I'm sure most artists suffer some anxiety at award ceremonies. We all hope to get some recognition. I told myself that no matter the results, I had some personal wins in this event. Lori Putnam started with the honorable mentions in no particular order. She said something about why the painting had called her attention before calling the artist's name. Mine name came third of fourth, and all I remember is that she said something about the good use of greens, time of day, and temperature in my painting Vineyard in Naples. I was shocked and elated!

Honorable Mention

Sunday June 8th
The exhibit and sale at Sonnenberg Gardens Carriage House opened to the public. It was a nice time to interact with other artists and relax. Some even painted on the grounds

I sold my winning painting and a smaller one that someone had liked during the Meet the Artist event. Best of all, my hostess became the recipient of my award painting, as it was a gift from her boyfriend.

As in previous years, the organizers and volunteers did a wonderful job. They were probably as physically tired as the artists were but they never failed to ask if they could do something for us. My sincere thanks to all of them!

4 comments:

Meghna Joshi said...

My God Adriana!! Your work is A W E S O M E !! I am also into painting and my base is water and acrylics. I have always wanted to learn to create that magic with pastels, just the way you do. Thank you so much for inspiring!!
Stay Blessed!

Lots of love,
Meghna
@ http://meghnasays.blogspot.in/

Adriana Meiss said...

Hi Meghna, Thank you for your kind words! It's very nice to hear that my work inspires you, probably in the same way that other artists' work have inspired me as well. It's like a transfer of good vibes... Happy painting!

Donna T said...

Thanks so much for writing about your adventure this year, Adriana! Where did you get the stamina?? You were the perfect person to represent pastelists!

Adriana Meiss said...

Donna, Thank you. In a way, it did feel good to be the only one painting in pastels. The other artist from Syracuse also won an honorable mention, so we put Syracuse in good standing!