Thursday, June 26, 2014

Montague, Prince Edward Island, Plein Air Festival - Day 2

Georgetown Fish Shacks 9x12 oil

Radar at sunrise showed showers moving over northern New Brunswick, heading east.  By the time I was ready to catch the shuttle to our second day's painting location, the rain had reached Montague.  It came down so steadily that I wondered if I should take my own car, which would allow me access to all my umbrellas.  (I brought two others in addition to my usual Best Brella; one was a golf umbrella.)  I didn't know Georgetown or what kind of shelter it might have.

I decided to take the shuttle, anyway, and threw on my Gore-Tex coat.  I left behind the golf umbrella but crammed my little Totes umbrella into a bag along with an extra jacket.  Before the day was over, I'd need both of these items.

By the time we got to Georgetown, just a short drive from Montague, the rain had stopped.  I learned from our driver that the town, which is PEI's only deepwater port and shipyard, is rich in history.  I would have loved to have spent some time exploring the streets, but the weather was still very threatening and I was on foot with a lot of gear.  Plus, I needed to get painting.  I didn't want to waste this unexpected dry moment.

Let me take a break to reflect on plein air event strategy.  Ideally, you should explore an area before you start painting.  Drive out, stroll a bit, take some photos, think about subject and design.  If I had followed my own advice, I would have driven out to Georgetown the other evening when the weather was good to make a plan.  But I didn't.  So, when I arrived at Georgetown yesterday, I felt like a paratrooper dropped behind enemy lines without a map or plan.

Still, I'm pretty quick to size up a location.  Volunteers at the registration tent pointed out strategic locations such as restrooms, sheltered porches where we had permission to paint and coffee shops.  Then, I stuffed my bags under the registration tent and went for a quick walk with my Totes.  I naturally headed down to the waterfront and found my subject matter.  (Actually, there was a line of us painters heading that way, so I followed my herd instinct.)  Georgetown had some nice, picturesque fish shacks and, of course, boats.

I went back, got my gear, and then set up to paint the fish shacks.  I'm sorry, but I really do love these old-timey clich├ęs.  (Should I mention that I like to paint barns, too?)  There's something about the weathered wood and architectural wonkiness and overgrown weeds that attracts me.  But about five minutes into painting, the rain began - and it got heavy.

I had to set up my Best Brella, and when rain began to blow sideways, I had to open up my Totes umbrella, too.  I no longer had enough free hands to paint.  I also got chilled, so I had to put on the fleece jacket under the Gore-tex coat.  And then the rain stopped.

That's the way the day went, on-and-off showers.  You'd paint a bit when it was drier, open up all the umbrellas when it rained, and then go back to painting when it stopped.  It was too late to head for a porch since I was deep into this one painting.  Plus, I liked the rain - it made for a moodier piece.

By the time I finished, the weather seemed to be changing.  The sky was lighter, and it hadn't rained for a bit.  I put my gear in the shuttle so it wouldn't get wet when it rained again, and then walked over to the Maroon Pig Art Gallery & Sweet Shop with some of the other painters.  The Maroon Pig was offering an "artist's special" for lunch - scalloped potatoes and ham, plus coffee and a cookie, and that was just the right thing for a cool, rainy day.  Thank you, Maroon Pig!

After lunch, I decided it was time to do a boat painting.  Because it was starting to spit rain again, my choice of location was forced by circumstance.  I wanted shelter, and I found a little kiosk with a roof right by the docks.  It was getting windy, too, so I set up on the lee side.   As the wind blew and the rain came and went (and came again) I stayed dry.  But although I'd found a nice work boat to paint - the "Git-R-Done" - I had trouble and ended up cutting my losses and scraping it down.  Still, I very much liked the "bones" of the painting, so I moved into an edgier, more modern mode and did some knifework over this deconstructed  piece.  I like the way the piece turned out, as it preserves and showcases my favorite parts of the scene without being fussy, and the active surface captures some of the weather's energy.  I wasn't going to post it, but the vote is that I should.

The Git-R-Done, 9x12 oil

By three, the rain was falling steadily.  I packed up and hitched a ride back with another painter.  I had to frame a couple of pieces and deliver them to the exhibition space in the Riverhouse Inn.  The idea with this festival is to have an on-going exhibition, so painters are asked to bring in one painting a day for display.  By Friday evening, we should have four paintings each.  Here are my two pieces so far, framed.  We have the option of swapping these out as the week goes on, but by Friday we need to have finalized our choices for the awards evening, which will be on Saturday.

Georgetown Fish Shacks, 9x12 oil framed
Bridge over St Peter's 9x12 oil framed

Despite the weather, everyone is all smiles this week.  If you're prepared for it, you will always have a good day.  Plus, the townspeople are very welcoming and even stop by to visit.  The organizers and volunteers are very helpful this week, too, making sure we have what we need and smoothing the ride for us whenever possible.

This morning  as I write, the rain is still falling.  Today, we're heading off to Panmure Island.  I may even bring the golf umbrella.

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