Sunday, September 18, 2016
Saturday morning dawned with the canyon filled with a blue haze from the Fuller fire still smouldering on the North Rim. The artists I met during check-in for the Quick Draw all remarked on how lucky we were; it always helps with a painting to put a feeling of “atmosphere” in it, and here we had been handed it on this day. We wouldn’t have to make it up.
Parking in the Village, which is where the Quick Draw is held, is always a problem on weekends. Even though check-in wasn’t until 7:30, I arrived at 6 to find a parking spot, which I was lucky to do right near the Kolb Studio. (I was able to keep that parking spot all day and didn’t have to move my car.) So I had plenty of time to join the tourists for sunrise pictures and coffee.
After checkin-in, I went to my favorite spot near the Bright Angel Lodge with a nice view of shadowed cliffs. Having over two dozen artists set up between Verkamp’s and the Kolb Studio, a short stretch of trail, meant that some of us would be painting similar scenes -- or so you would think. Artists who set up beside me were Brad Holt, Robert Goldman and Susan Klein. None of us painted the same view! Brad painted a picture of the Lookout Studio; Susan, an intimate close-up of some rocks right off the trail; Robert, the view looking west; and I, the view looking east.
The virtual pistol went off at 8; by 10, we wrapped up and delivered the paintings, finished and framed to the auction table. There was an amazing amount of good work done in just two hours, and it always amazes me that artists can pull that off. (But this is what we do, isn’t it?) I was very pleased to have my 12x16 auctioned off at $1000. You might remark that this is not a bad rate of pay. But as Whistler remarked, artists are paid for their vision, not for their labor.
We had a break after the auction, so I joined my lodging host and Robert Goldman at El Tovar for a beer. Robert, it turns out, lives in Prescott, and I also learned that we were in the same gallery (now closed) in Sedona for awhile several years ago. I talked to Robert about his painting process, and it’s always interesting to hear how other artists work.
Artists were asked to return to the Kolb Studio at 4 to vote on Artists’ Choice. (Won by Robert Dalegowski.) I love getting a chance to see the artwork before the collectors arrive because I can take my time to enjoy the paintings. Each artist has a studio painting as well as the week’s worth of plein air work. I won’t render judgement on my fellow artists and their work, but I will say there are some excellent paintings there. I was honored by Peter (P.A) Nisbet, a much-respected and highly-collected Grand Canyon painter, who said my studio painting of Acadia National Park’s Otter Point was the best of all of them. “I like to give credit where credit is due,” he said.
The collectors flooded in at 5, and the Studio became a mosh pit. By 7, it was over and time to go home.
Now it’s Sunday. Artists have a debriefing with the Grand Canyon Association at 8, followed by a Buyer’s Brunch at 10 and more sales. The exhibit and sale opens to the public at noon and will be ongoing until January.
On Tuesday, I fly back home to Maine and New Brunswick. Not long after, we pack up the car and head west for our winter home and studio in Sedona. I may write more on this event as a wrap-up, but I’ll be quite busy with packing, a workshop in North Carolina, and then the Sedona Plein Air Festival. I will say I had a great week and enjoyed, as always, painting on the Rim, working with the Grand Canyon Association’s staff and volunteers and the National Park Service, and deeply appreciate the support and hospitality of my lodging hosts. Thank you, everyone!