Sunday, June 24, 2012

Painting the Fest- Strawberry Festival Cedarburg

Here is my final piece for the Cedarburg Plein Air Event...painting the Strawberry Festival. It depicts Mark Zelten painting, and also represents my intent to paint my heart and inclination rather than perhaps what the expectations of the "what" that painters paint for this.

14"x 11" oil  (click on image to bring up larger view)


In terms of this is all the EZ-up tents, vendors and the 125,000 strong crowd. The shops, the energy. For me, the REAL meat of the event is that painters come from all corners of the state, out of state and following ten days bond, make real friendships, work tirelessly, have days they are dragging from late nocturne painting. For me...the ideal painting was of a painter painting the fest, and that is how I set out.

I saw Mark there...and his wife, and stopped to see what he was painting actually...and chatted about what I was looking for. The suggestion and invitation was I could paint right there...and it was like, "duh! Um...YAH!" because as I was standing behind Mark, the elements, the excitement...the was all there and off I went running for my gear. My only concern was could I get enough of this done before Mark was finished. As it would turn hour before the work had to be turned in framed...I had not yet painted the crowd. At one point I think I said something like, "I don't think I'm going to have time to get this done...and Mark shot back, "oh, you can do it!"

I scraped off my palette...put out fresh color, mixed up about a half-dozen colors. Squinted my eyes, to get an "impression" of the heads, the shirts, color...and with a 1/4" filbert just started stroking it in...abstract. I finished ten minutes later, grabbed my wet piece off the half-box French easel (Trident) and went off in a hurry thru the crowd to my truck. There is at that time for me, a knot in the stomach...but, made it! *whew...and, I really like this piece.

Found out the piece might have won the event, but the judge did not like my inclusion of the "white space" which is an EZ-up tent. Actually surprising some of the folks helping with the event there during judging...explaining all the artists paint EZ-ups as it is a festival, for one.

Note though, as it came up in later discussion relaxing/chill'axing with artists that I am not painting pure white..rarely do except on a focal point. Whitest strokes of paint really, are accents on the reflective angles of the paint umbrella of Marks. You can see I have some Naples yellow and some reflective blues (albeit subtle) going on.

Main argument for me, a no-brainer I thought...was the tent not only represents the serves as a paragraph break between the busyness of the crowd below, and the buildings and tree above. Also...I have Mark as the strong focal point creating visually a major weight in both rule of third juncture points right side. The tent acts as a diversion leading the eye up just enough to balance the work visually. Without that tent...the eye lingers too long on Mark, fails to flow thru the work enough...and yet the tent never holds the eye too significantly long.

Now, so its understood...such is not sour grapes for me. Its nice to know some felt it should have won...well, and as did I. There were some good pieces...I felt quite confident of this one. Its instructional though...a help I hope to others that experience discouragement when coming up short, that you find yourself down but for a moment. Its subjective in some ways with judging...what they are going to simply like or not like.

In the end...I enjoyed most my anticipated getting together with artist friends. Engaging in the battle together finding "that one"...many of us painting 10 to 16 pieces in ten days to turn in two for the main event, one for this for the quick paint. It was a gas...a blast! I know I left it all out there because my body is feeling it this morning. I'm exhausted...but, already looking forward to when we do this again. For me...right now not sure, and I have some Go To Meeting and Artist Network University stuff to work on...writing...*yikes...and other things. Its been fun folks, and a privilege!

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