Sunday, July 26, 2015

Castine Plein Air Festival 2015 - Day 3 and the End

My table at the show.  (A little more space would have been nice so
all the paintings could be displayed upright.)

After yesterday's magnificent thunderstorm, today dawned chilly and overcast. Despite the uninspiring weather, I think all the artists decided to paint till the last second. (Paintings were due to be delivered framed between noon and two.) Although I'd caught my limit of six really good paintings, I, too, felt compelled to go out, despite the rather flat light and uninteresting shadows.

I found a little yellow house on Water Street that I liked. I'd come across it on a walk earlier, and I thought that if we had a grey morning like this one, it would be a good color note. A passerby asked me if I didn't think the colors were more interesting on a grey day; and it's true. Hike in the autumn on a rainy day, for example, and the colors will seem much more intense than when you take that same hike on a sunny day.

This didn't help me, though. Although the painting was competent, it was uninspired. I felt that my paintings this week had an "extra touch" thanks to the beautiful skies Nature had given me. I was very happy with the six I'd chosen, so I didn't feel the need to try yet again. Instead, I had an early lunch at Castine Variety down by the dock. I highly recommend the Thai Curry; the chef said she makes her curry from scratch.

Afterward, I went home to frame. Of the nine paintings I'd made, my choices were obvious. I pulled out the six I loved. By the way, I also tried that rose garden painting in a frame to see how it'd look; I guess I was still trying to convince myself that it was good enough for the show. Sadly, I put it back in the box along with the other two that didn't make the cut. (I'll put it up in the studio and try to figure out what it is I like about it.)

This year, artists didn't have to wait in line to grab tables like concert-goers camped out for tickets to the Rolling Stones. In a smart move, the organizers decided to assign tables. The show was held at the Alfond Student Union at the Maine Maritime Academy over three different rooms. My paintings were in the dining hall, which has many large windows and lots of natural light. Others weren't so lucky, in that one room was filled with photographs of MMA notables, both living and dead (imagine this for a backdrop for your paintings), and the third was illuminated mostly by banks of fluorescent lights. My paintings showed well on my assigned table.

Some of the comments about my paintings:

  • "Your skies are the best of anyone's here"
  • "These frames go really well with these paintings"
  • "I really like the way the orangey underpainting shows through the paint"

I won an award each of the past two years, but not this year. There were many fine paintings, so I'm sure it was a tough call for the two judges. Having judged shows both national and regional, I understand the difficulty of viewing over 200 paintings in about an hour, which is all the time they had.

More important to me are sales. Although artists got free lodging (thank you, Jack and Sue!), there is still a financial commitment from the artist to attend these events. For me, I had to close one of our two galleries and give up some teaching in order to come. I sold only two paintings, for which I am grateful. Although it's hard to count people as they mill about, I got the sense that there were fewer visitors to the show than in previous years.

It was a fun event, and I'll probably sign on for it again next year. It was a pleasure, as always, to see old friends and to make some new ones. The residents were very supportive of the artists in giving us access to locations, and the Castine Arts Association staff and volunteers did a superb job of organizing the event. I'm hoping that next year they can arrange for the same beautiful skies.

I'll be heading off to Campobello Island early Sunday morning. The unsold paintings will go to Artists Retreat Studios & Gallery in Lubec. As I said, I really like these pieces, and in some ways, I'm reluctant to put them up for sale because they are some of my favorite works from this summer. But onto the wall they will go!

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