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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sedona - Day Seven and the End

Last night's Patrons' Gala showed 120 pieces -- 3 from each artist plus the artist's "quick draw" -- and the level of the work was superb. This was the first time many of us had had the chance to see everyone's work. If only I had a budget to buy some of these pieces! To the left is a photo of the pre-event calm.
I took photos of my four pieces. Frames do so much to give the work a really "pro" appearance. (Don't skimp on your framing, folks!) Below are two pieces I've posted before, but also two you haven't seen. First is a sycamore. This was done at Red Rock Crossing. I was looking for that cliched view everyone paints and photographs, the one with Cathedral Rock in the distance and the creek in the foreground. It was hot, so I retreated to the shade of this beautiful tree. The painting is an homage and thanks to the tree for giving me shelter from the sun.

The second image is "Into the Blue," my "quick draw" piece. There's some wonderful, early-morning shadow colour in it that doesn't show up in the photo. Finally are the two you've already seen.
Today, Sunday, is the final day of the event. It's a six-hour public art sale. I'll be there with my bio sheet, business cards and plenty of chat about what I do. Stop by!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sedona - Day Six

Well, the week of painting is over -- except for today's "Quick Draw" event. The Quick Draws starts at 10 am, and artists have until noon to paint, and then this final, special painting must be delivered framed between noon and 1 pm. After talking with the other artists last night, I realize everyone is in the same state -- exhausted, and beyond worry. It is understood that there will be no time to "tweak" the painting. In a couple of senses, it will be a performance piece, with no opportunity for revision and with the public watching.

I will be painting by the creek at L'Auberge de Sedona, the luxury resort. ("Romantic French country inn in the heart of Red Rock Country with award winning gourmet restaurant," as it describes itself.) The reception for artists and their patrons took place there last night. Wonderful food, all the way from tuna sushi with wasabi to pumpkin soup served in little butternut squash.

Yesterday (Friday) was a busy day. I had time to do one last painting. I went to Red Rock Crossing and painted a gorgeous sycamore tree by the water. (Sorry, no image of this yet! I did take a photo, but then I tweaked the painting later and failed to re-photograph it. I will try to take some photos of everything hung at the gallery later today.) Then, I had to go about framing 8 pieces. Screw eyes, hanging wire, paperwork -- what a project! If you've never been to a plein air event, you may think we spend our days just painting and our evenings snacking at receptions. Well, there's a bit of paperwork and administrative tasks to do, too! it's on with the day.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sedona - Day Five

Colder weather has slipped in, and I found myself painting in the frost this morning. You'd think I'd know better than to seek a higher altitude and a canyon that's in shadow all but four hours of the day! I drove up Oak Creek Canyon and arrived at the West Fork trailhead around 8. I found a pleasant little spot that seemed like it might receive some sunshine before long -- but I was wrong! I stood in the shade for nearly two hours. I'm really glad I stopped at Wal-mart's hunting department a few weeks ago and bought a pair of those fingerless gloves hunters use, the ones that let you operate important tools such as shotguns and oil painting brushes.

I chose a little ruin of a building to paint. This stone building, nestled in thicket of old apple trees, was, like me, in shade the entire time, too. The only sun was what was creeping down the canyon wall behind it. Not too long after I started painting, hikers began to appear. Several of them joked that if they knew I was going to be there, they would have brought coffee. It's odd, but when your focused on painting, you don't really notice bodily discomfort. But when you are done painting, you really feel it!

One part of the plein air event people may not think about is the time spent dealing with administrative tasks, such as preparing frames. I spent nearly two hours today unwrapping frames, putting in screw eyes and attaching hanging wire. (I brought 8 frames.) Tomorrow, my administrative tasks will include actually framing pieces and filling out paperwork with titles, sizes, prices and so on. Well, I've done 10 paintings so far, so I suppose I can handle a little paperwork!

After dealing with the frames, I went back to SAC (Sedona Art Center) and painted out in the parking lot. I did this for the benefit of tourists, some of whom had heard about the event and were looking for painters. I actually had a few come by as I painted the beautiful, late afternoon view.
Finally, we topped off the evening with a reception at William Scott Jennings' house. What a studio! Big north windows and a big mirror to view work in. (On his easel -- an 8-foot painting of the Grand Canyon.) One curious thing, though. The studio was carpeted with an off-white carpet, and it was curiously clean. When guests commented on Scott's apparent fastidiousness, he pointed out that the carpet has speckles in it, and whatever paint he drops simply blends in. We all decided this is just his "show" studio, and he must have a second, real, working studio elsewhere.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sedona - Day Four

Day Number Three, and we're hitting our stride. I was willing today to drive further for a painting, so I went all the way down to the Turkey Creek access, past the village of Oak Creek. But wouldn't you know it? I wasn't happy with anything I found there. The views were too distant. So, I headed back toward Sedona and stopped at the Cathedral Rock trail. I liked the rock I found, and it was cool and still too early for tourists. Just as I was finishing up, though, a bus load of Japanese tourists (30? 40? 10,000?) appeared out of nowhere in the distance. I thought they were going to come by me and disrupt my clean-up, but instead they took the steep trail UP Cathedral Rock! They looked like ants crawling up a wall from where I stood. (These photos are off a bit; there's a glare reflecting on the wet paint. I'll try to take better photos later in the week and repost.)
Still full of energy after that painting, I went to Bell Rock and one of the pull-offs there. Hurricane Paul's clouds were still around -- the hills closer to Sedona were still swathed in morning fog -- and now I was in the mood to paint a distant view that I wasn't in the mood for earlier. This one captures the atmosphere quite nicely.
I had dinner with the artists at Rene's at the Tlaquepaque, another event sponsor. Sorry, no photos of this one! But I do wish I had my camera with me, since a storm was rolling up as I went out. The colors were astounding -- rocks bright orange in the sunset against the bruised-purple clouds....

Sedona - Day Three

The second full day of painting arrived overcast and with a few sprinkles coming down. To the south, the threat of rain looked less, so I headed for Red Rock State Park. Still overcast, but at least it wasn't raining -- yet! I set up my easel with a view of a rich, red rock wall with a line of yellow cottonwoods below it.

What's even harder than painting these red rocks in sunshine is painting them on an overcast day. The colour is even richer, and it is tough to render without making it look gaudy. I think this one turned out pretty well, though.
After a lunch at Bella Terra (another event sponsor) with painters of the caliber of William Scott Jennings, OPAM, I headed out to do my second painting of the day. Hurricane Paul, a Pacific bluster heading up through the Southwest, was supposed to be blowing through later -- and sure enough, just after I set up my gear below the Coffeepot formation near Soldier's Pass, a big cloud rumbled up. I knew my time was very limited on this one, so I let my instinct fly. Not bad!
It was interesting to hear what people had to say at lunch. On Sunday, at our orientation, everyone was in high spirits and rarin' to go. On Tuesday, however, people were starting to look a little tired, and some were just downright unhappy with what they had done so far. PAPA member Raleigh Kinney said that the first two days are always the worst.

I'm still full of energy and happy with what I'm doing. Three more days!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sedona - Day Two

Monday was a "free" day at the event. Artists had no scheduled activities -- meaning that we had the entire day to ourselves to paint. The rest of the week, we will have assorted lunches, dinners and other get-togethers hosted by the Festival's sponsors. They want to make sure we are well-fed so we can paint our best!

I think the artists pushed themselves to get as much done yesterday as possible. Rain showers are predicted for today (Tuesday), and although one can paint in the rain, I personally am better off working with paint and panel free of raindrops. A few clouds will be nice, though, as they will add interest to the sky.

I, too, pushed myself yesterday. I did three paintings (9x12s, which is the size I will work in all week). You can see the paintings below. The first and last were painted from the Schnebly Hill vista area, and the second was done off of Dry Creek Road. This one was really fun to do. I found a pleasant little arroyo filled with Arizona sycamores at peak colour. But even though I set up my easel in the shade, it was quite warm. It must have been 90 or above, and with no breeze!

(Please forgive the quality of the photos, if they look "off." These are photos taken in the field, and I am using a low-resolution, handheld digital camera and a laptop to tweak the images on.)

Today, we have a luncheon scheduled -- "Artists Only." It'll be nice to spend some time with the others. We artists tend to be solitary creatures, and when the race began, we dashed off in separate directions.

And so now, here are yesterday's paintings:

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sedona - Day One

Today was Orientation and Canvas Stamping Day. Panels are stamped so that people can verify that the paintings in the end-of-week auction were actually painted during the time they were supposed to be painted. (No fair sneaking in pieces you did on your leisure time a month ago!) I had 15 stamped. Either this means I am optimistic about my energy level for the week or I am pessimistic about my good-to-bad ratio. I prefer the "glass is half-full" option.

There are many excellent artists in the event. All of them are nice people, and I'm sure we'll have some good, productive times together. The event coordinators have made sure to put lots of social activities on our calendar. These will take whatever energy we have left after doing two or more paintings a day. One participant said, "I thought I was coming here for a painting vacation!" But, meet-and-greet is important for networking. (Above is the first get-together of artists, hosts, patrons and other supporters at Red Rock State park. What a gorgeous sunset!)

After our Orientation, I went out and did my first painting. I'm quite pleased with it. Here it is:

Friday, October 20, 2006

Headin' West -- And Packin' the Oils

This week, I'm heading to Sedona for the Sedona Plein Air Festival. I'm one of 30 artists lucky enough to be invited to this prestigious event. (Check out I'm looking forward to painting the red rocks and the yellow cottonwoods, which are spectacular this time of year.

When I agreed to do this event, which culminates in a Patron's Gala and art auction, I lived in New Mexico -- just a day's drive away. Now I live in the Canadian Maritimes, and from there it's hard to get to Sedona even in one day by plane.

Strange as it may sound for a travelling, professional artist and workshop instructor, I have not yet -- until now -- had the experience of flying my art materials. Typically, my wife and I drive to events and workshops, no matter how far away, since we usually work them into one of our annual cross-country trips. The one time I did fly, I ordered new materials and had them drop-shipped to my destination, and then I shipped them back on the return.

So, with the new, tighter TSA flying regulations, you can understand I was a little nervous about this trip, especially with oil paints. I made sure to stick a sheet of paper with the phrase "Artist's Colours, Made with Vegetable Oils" in the box I packed the oil paints in, along with a sample MSDS (Manufacturer's Safety Data Sheet) and a copy of Robert Gamblin's newsletter on travelling with these items. (See I checked EVERYTHING -- "artist's oil colours," brushes, pochade box and tripod.

I was also worried about luggage loss. So, I made a detailed list of the items I took along with their value, and then I took photos of the contents of the suitcase. Here are the photos:

The good news, the luggage did not get lost. I flew from Portland, ME, yesterday to El Paso*, TX, and now it's now in my hands, and ready to drive with me to Sedona.

I'll post more as events unfold in Sedona.


*(Why did I fly to El Paso? It has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones, who are giving a concert in town tonight. But wouldn't it be nice to get tickets?)