Monday, June 22, 2015

4th Canandaigua Plein Air

Painting a vineyard in Naples, NY

 On the second week of June I participated for the 4th time in the Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition and Festival. A week before the event I got a feeling of unease because of the caliber of the participants. Many artists who had participated in previous years were replaced by others whose names I often see in Plein Air Magazine, so there was a reason to feel apprehensive. Anyway all that disappeared the moment I arrived to Canandaigua and started to paint.

One thing I can say is that at least for me, this competition made me think differently how I approached my scenes. I wasn't interested in painting lake views, or saleable scenes.  I was looking for scenes that offered a good composition and would challenge me in conveying the atmosphere of the day. Then, I had also to take into account the safety of the spot I was going to paint from.

 My first scene had horses grazing on a pasture but I did not have the chance to paint them due to the imminent storm. I had barely time to rearrange my pastels and put my things in the car before the first big raindrops started to fall.
Just Before the Storm, 9x12 pastel on board
 The downpour did not last long and for my second painting I ended up at an intersection from which I could see another participant at work. Not wanting to intrude nor paint the same scene, I took the road to my right (Monks Rd) and almost right away I found a great view.
Hazy, Lazy Afternoon, 9x12" pastel on board-Honorable Mention -SOLD
The lake looked silvery in the distance and the background changed often due to the mist, but I had decided what was important in this scene from the first moment. At the end, I took liberty with the color of the sky. A good start for day 1! I hurried back to town for the artists reception but wished I could have stayed and paint another scene.

At the reception I met Colette, a pastelist from Rochester, and we decided to go painting a night scene. So we both went to the Wegmans parking lot ( a supermarket). I chose to paint the entrance while she painted the outdoor cafe. I painted till all I could see were values. Thunder and lightning nearby encourage me to pack at record speed.

Day 2
Thursday was supposed to be sunny, no rain. I had barns in mind!  There is an interesting red barn on Rt 21 that is not easy to paint from the main road. I found a partial view of it from a less trafficked road. 
Red Barn from Hicks Rd. 10x8" pastel on board- SOLD
Feeling confident for having already two OK paintings and two that I could go back to their respective places to  finish them, I headed south on Rt 21 near the cemetery where there are three large barns by the road. I took the time to look around the structures and that paid off as I found what I considered just perfect and simple to paint.
A Sliver of Light, 10x8 pastel on board
Afterwards I headed to Grimes Creek in Naples, where I had read there is a waterfall. I went scouting first as there is a 1/4 mile walk to the falls from the parking lot. Midway to the falls I realized I was getting tired an hungry and that is not a good combination to start a challenging scene. So I went back to the car but took lots of reference photos. Since I did not want to leave Naples without a painting from there,  I found a place from which I could paint the same vineyard I painted the year before but looking at it from the north. My interest in the scene was the hazy blue of the middle ground in early afternoon.
Vineyard in Naples II 9x12" pastel on board
I had to hurry back to town and get ready for the Meet the Artist reception where the participants could exhibit three studio paintings and have the opportunity to meet and converse with patrons. After this event I went back to the Wegmans parking lot to finish my painting of the day before.
Evening Shoppers, 14x11" pastel on board
Day 3
I got up late and still very tired. When you are painting happily for hours and hours you don't realized how tired your feet can get! Since I had at least five decent pieces for the exhibit, I decided to take it easy and try painting with oils, and for that I went back to Monks Rd. to paint some barns.  My oil painting started well but I reached a point where I began to get frustrated. It was about 2:00 PM,  I had left my salad at my hostess' home and all I had in the car was water and a bag of popcorn...). Then a friend also participating in the event came to paint along that road. That kind of reanimated me for a while. We were withing shouting distance from each other and took breaks to see each other's progress.  

Unfinished barns 10x20 oil- A frame is what I used to carry the wet paint. 
After a while I just gave up on my oil-- I realized later on that I had not resolved how to deal with the trees on the left from the very beginning... Angry at myself (I don't know why?), I put my oil stuff away. I looked again around me and another scene begged me to paint it. It's funny how easily one forgets tiredness and hunger. Definitely pastels this time!
Canandaigua Blues, 12x12" pastel on board
I went back to my hostess to photograph and frame my work, but couldn't finish because I wanted to see Nancy Tankersley, the juror' demo. Even though I arrived late, I liked what I saw. Then it was  back home to fishing framing.

Day 4
After delivering my paintings for the exhibit I went scouting for a scene for the Quick Draw. The weather forecast predicted showers so I needed a roof. I went to the farmers market where two plant vendors allowed me to paint their booth.  I think I tried to bite more than I could chew with this one, but I had fun talking with the guys. I will correct and finish this one some day because I want to get comfortable painting cars and busy scenes.
Waiting 9x12 pastel on board
In the afternoon was the award reception. I was stunned to hear my name associated with an honorable mention for Hazy, Lazy Afternoon! Nancy said she had to decide between  that one and the side wall  (I think she referred to my white barn...) but she chose this one because it reflected the atmosphere of the day very well.  Next day, I sold two paintings! 
My thanks to the organizers of the event and to the patrons for this great opportunity!