Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sedona 07 - Day 7

From the conversations I had with other artists, the Quick Draw is something to dread. It seems popular at these plein air festivals.

You're under the gun. Not only is there a deadline -- two hours to start and finish a painting, followed by one hour to frame and to get the piece to the gallery -- but you have the public. You're in a performance in which it is not just permissible for but expected that the audience interact with you. It can be a big challenge! Fortunately, as a workshop instructor, I have a great deal of experience with both. My demonstrations are usually under an hour, and I'm comfortable in having a dialogue with students while I paint. I think most of the other artists at the Festival are in this situation, and so these should be just minor points.

The real problem is that you have no chance to edit your work. You can't let it sit on a shelf for a day so you can analyze it at your leisure; nor do you have the opportunity to put a lesser painting in the "Let's Call This One a Study" bin; and for one that really went into the ditch, you can't just scrape it down.

After a short, mind-clearing hike on the Huckaby Trail at Schnebly Hill at dawn, I headed out. Parking is limited at L'Auberge, so artists were requested to park at a local church and take a pre-arranged shuttle to the painting spot. Since we arrived so early -- 8:30, with the Quick Draw not until 10 -- Betty Carr and I decided to park on Main Street and then hike down the 100-foot staircase to L'Auberge. (The L'Auberge resort sits on Oak Creek, deep in a canyon behind the shops you see on Main Street. There is a little-known funicular railway that can take you down in a small, 4-person car, but I haven't seen it operating all week. The staircase isn't bad at all, since the descent -- and subsequent climb -- is moderated by several switchbacks.) Once there, we found our spots, set up our gear and then wandered off to find coffee. I set up by what's called the "Wedding Tree". It's a giant Arizona sycamore that spreads its huge limbs over a lush lawn.

At 10, I started and was immediately beset by viewers. My location was right by L'Auberge's restaurant, and it was a spot with a lot of traffic. However, my painting went well, and I was quite pleased with it at the end. Comments were very favourable.

After delivering the framed piece to the gallery, I took off, grabbed a bite to eat and took a hike in Soldier's Pass. I didn't have much time, as we had to be back at L'Auberge, who was hosting the Gala, by 4 to vote for the Artist's Choice award. (In case you're curious, no, I didn't get it. It went to Michael Obermeyer, for a beautiful painting of a moonrise.) This time, I took the shuttle, as I didn't want to be hiking up and down the hill at night.

I was very impressed with this year's paintings. The quality, even with many of the same painters working, was a couple of notches up over last year's. There was some very exciting work, and much of it was inspiring. I think everyone felt this. Even though we were all tired from the week, it was re-energizing to see so much great art in one place. In fact, as the evening light lit up the red rock hills around us, several of us remarked how we felt like we wanted to go painting!

I had a great time, and I met some very nice patrons. L'Auberge did a superb job with the food and the venue. We artists were weary after the event. But we probably weren't as weary as the "schlepping team" will be on Sunday morning! After the event, volunteers were going to take down the entire show -- 120 paintings, minus the ones that sold -- and move it back to the Sedona Art Center for Sunday's Public Sale.

Tomorrow: the Public Sale, from 9 to 3. This will be the really big day. I remember when the doors opened at 9 last year, we had a flood of collectors from Phoenix, Scottsdale and even Manhattan who wanted the first crack at some truly great art. I'll definitely need a supply of coffee!

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