Sunday, September 21, 2014

Grand Canyon Celebration of Art - Day 8

Rain over Grand Canyon during the Buyer's Preview

Our final day of painting, Saturday, began with artists arriving extra early for the Quick Draw to find a parking spot. There's never an abundance of parking in the Village, and what with the gear some of us have, it's important to get a spot somewhat close to the painting and auction locations. I arrived about 6:30, and a few moments later, the remaining spots were taken by hikers preparing to hike down the Bright Angel Trail. I'm not sure where all the other 24 painters parked!

Once parked, I relaxed a bit by walking to the Maswik Lodge for a quick breakfast to hold me through the morning. By 7, I was back at the Rim, checking out painting spots. ML Coleman and Serena Supplee arrived about then. We all found good morning views just east of Kolb Studio and not a far hike from the auction tent. (You don't want to be running a half-mile from Verkamp's at 10:59 a.m. back to the auction tent, which was all the way down by the Bright Angel trailhead, when your painting is due signed, framed and deliverd by 11.) I sat down on the stone wall that edges the rim and watched ML and Serena's gear while they went off to breakfast.

These are my thumbnail sketches.  While I was doing them, noted Grand Canyon painter
Bruce Aiken came by, leading a small group of NAU students on an art tour.  He saw my sketches and told these
youngsters, "T'HIS is how it all begins, with the sketch!"  I was honored that he came by and used me as an example.

The last time I did the event, I worked on a 5x7 color sketch while I waited for the 9 a.m. starting time to prepare. This time, the clouds and sunlight were so fickle it didn't make sense, so I made some thumbnail (value) sketches instead to get my head around the scene. There was so much to see at this spot - Maricopa Point and the Battleship formation to the left, Yavapai Point to the right, Indian Garden directly below and, across the gulf, Cheops Pyramid, Isis and Buddha Temples. While I sketched, a cute little Abert's squirrel darted in and out of the rocks below, looking for food.

"Aberts with pinecone" by NPS Photo by Sally King - (archive link). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

By 8:30, all the artists had set up for the Quick Draw in the designated area, between Kolb Studio and Verkamp's Store. Although there wasn't to be any starting gun cracking at nine sharp, you could feel the tension. But once nine came and that first stroke went down on the canvas, everyone relaxed and got into the "zone."

ML Coleman

Aaron Schuerr

Serena Supplee

Dawn Sutherland

Many of the collectors who would be at the Buyer's Preview that evening stopped by to watch the progress of my painting. I had decided on a view of Indian Garden below. I liked the contrast of the green cottonwoods against the reddish rocks. Some of the buyers who were familiar with the Canyon and the art remarked that Indian Garden was an unusual and good choice because it is not often painted from this view.

Indian Garden, 9x12 oil - My Quick Draw Painting

10:45 came all too quickly, but I was pretty happy with my piece. I framed it and took it over to the auction tent. I was surprised I was the first artist to turn in a painting. There was only an hour for people to preview the paintings before the noon auction. Some artists even turned in their work as late as 11:30.

The Auction

The auction was a frenzy. Although there was a variety of sizes, from around 8x10 on up to maybe 16x20, paintings generally went between $1000 and $3000. My 9x12 went for $1050, which I felt was about right. When about two-thirds of the paintings had sold, a big thunderstorm began rumbling off not far off to the south, and there was some urgency to get the auction over. Despite that, over $40,000 worth of work sold.

After an afternoon break of cleaning up, I headed back to the Kolb Studio for the Buyer's Preview, which ran from five to seven. This year, tickets had gone up to $100 each, and I noticed a thinner crowd than what I'd experienced in previous years. Still, the price left the serious buyers in the running, and over $100,000 worth of work was sold. I sold my studio piece, which is always satisfying, plus a few of the smaller ones. It's great to see collectors supporting the Grand Canyon Association's goal of funding a permanent art museum on the South Rim.

Buyer's Preview

I was amazed at all the quality work at the event. The main gallery was filled with beautiful paintings of the Canyon, each of them different and special. But the lower level of the Kolb Studio held just as much work. These were backup paintings to replace the ones sold in the main gallery. Buyers were allowed to visit the lower level and buy from there, too. People went up the stairs and down the stairs, into the rooms and out of the rooms. I now understand what is meant by a crowd "milling" around - there was a constant movement of people, and I'm sure the floorboards had been milled down a good half-inch by the end of the night

During the event, a big storm popped up over the Canyon. I could barely hear the thunder and rumble of rain on the roof, but when I peered out the window, I could see it was a real downpour. I thought of all those buyers having to cart their paintings to a car parked who knows where. But by the time the event was over, the rain had stopped and the stars were glinting brightly as they can only at the Grand Canyon.

Sunday is the final day of the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art. There will be a Buyer's Brunch from ten to noon, and then a Public Sale from noon to two. I hope to see everyone there!

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