Sunday, June 29, 2014

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

Saturday, the last day of the Montague "Paint It Beautiful" Plein Air Festival, dawned clear and cold.  I'm sure the lobstermen were glad; lobster season ends in PEI at the end of June, and it was a great morning for hauling in traps.  I heard the first boat leave the wharf right around sunrise, at 4 a.m.  All morning, boats were chugging back and forth, going out empty, returning piled high with wooden traps and riding low.  If any of the painters today were thinking of painting lobster boats, they were going to have to paint fast.

Fortunately, the harbor here in Montague also has pleasure craft, and I think all the boat owners slept in until noon, because there was very little activity among the Maxums and Larsons.  Like these recreational boats, we painters had a more relaxed morning.  No event was scheduled until 11, when a representative from Endeavours Art Stuff in Fredericton, NB, gave a well-received short demonstration on several brands of paints and brushes.  So what's a painter do with his free time?  Paint, of course.

Working Boat, Montague 9x12 oil (SOLD)

I headed down with my gear to the waterfront and decided to paint a scene that included the Garden of the Gulf Museum, that beautifully-proportioned Romanesque structure on the hill, some of the fish houses at the harbor and, yes, a boat.  Because I'd had such a rough time with a boat the day before, I decided to focus on the boat first, rather than rush through it at the end.  I knew I could block in all the other stuff fairly smoothly.  (Painting is sold.)

At 11, I headed back for the demo.  I also stopped into the exhibit and discovered that my bridge painting, "Bridge Over St Peter's" had won an honorable mention.  That was a pleasant surprise.  I also took some time to visit the other work and saw that the other artists had painted some very nice pieces.

Another Working Boat, 5x7 oil (SOLD)

At noon, we had to start painting a 5x7 for a silent auction that benefits Artisans on Main and Montague arts programs.  I went back down to the waterfront and this time chose to focus on a single boat.  I really liked the relationship of light and shadow in the scene.  Several people stopped to talk to me while I was working on it.  One lady had a lobsterman for a husband and knew her boats, so when she complimented me, I knew it was high praise indeed.

Paintings had to be delivered by two, and I made it just in time.  (I spent more time talking than I usually do in the field.)  My afternoon break consisted of brush-cleaning and palette scraping, organizing and packing, and a much-needed shower.  It had been a hot day - we'd gone from spring rains to summer in 24 hours, and yes, painters do sweat when they work.

At 5:30, everyone gathered at the Riverhouse Inn for the evening festivities.  We were joined by many from the public and also His Worship, the Mayor of Montague.  At seven, after a nice period of looking at artwork and chatting, we headed into the auditorium for the awards.  Awards included the Grand Prize and nine (I think I counted that many) Honourable Mentions plus Mayor's Choice, Artist's Choice and  People's Choice.  I've not participated in an event that didn't have a First and Second and possibly a Third Prize, but having been a judge myself I like the idea of not having them - it makes things clearer for everyone.  It says, "Here's a really nice painting, and here are several other paintings that are pretty darn good, too."  Often there's not much of a discernable quality difference between all of these prizes.  And no, I'm not saying this just because I won "only" an Honorable Mention.

The artists then presented Audrey Bunt, the driving force behind the festival, with flowers for her work.  She, along with Artisans on Main and all the other volunteers and supporters, did a fantastic job.  For a first-time event, things went very well, and next year will be even better.  If my schedule allows it, I will certainly participate.

Dawn is breaking this Sunday morning.  It's time to pack up and head out.  On the way home, I'll be dropping off some work at my new gallery in St Andrews, New Brunswick, Symbiosis.  I'm excited to be in this gallery, and if you're visiting this lovely, historic town, I hope you'll stop by 157 Water Street, right next to Honey Beans Coffee.

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