Saturday, September 26, 2009

Back in the Groove

Cloudy Morning on the Severn, oils on board, 9" x 12"

There was a light drizzle falling as I drove off for the first class of the fall session of Lee Boynton's plein air landscape class. I wondered if we would be able to find a dry spot from which to paint, but Lee knows his way around Annapolis so well, I figured he would have some alternative sites where we could stay dry.

As it turned out, by the time the class had convened at Maryland Hall and Lee went over the basics of equipment, palette and painting surfaces, the rain stopped. We caravanned over to Jonas Green Park to set up under the Naval Academy Bridge, where there is a view of the Severn that extends out over the Chesapeake Bay as far as Kent Island on the Eastern shore (the blue strokes at the horizon on the left).

The sky was clearing but there were still some dramatic clouds overhead so I composed my painting to feature the sky and picked one sailboat out of the many lining the shore as a focal point. Simple but elegant-- I am pleased with the result.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Paint Annapolis 2009

Annapolis Roofscape, oils on board, 12" x 9"

This year's Paint Annapolis weekend was grueling for this kid. I got there on Friday at noon just in time for my shift as a volunteer at the MAPAPA tent. During the shift a young man who owned a restaurant called "The Kitchen" came over and said he wanted an artist to paint his restaurant, so after my shift I set off to see if I could accommodate him, hoping to make a sale if my painting turned out well. I spent almost an hour sketching out the building but frankly, the facade was dismal. Even with a liberal dose of doctoring, it was impossible to infuse the composition with any charm, so after almost an hour I gave up on it and moved on. So much time wasted! I remembered there was a lovely garden and doorway on East Street, so I painted there until near sunset, when the mosquitoes started coming out in droves. My friend Sandy from Texas was flying in for a long weekend and her flight had just landed when I rang her.

Last year I'd picked my location well ahead of time for Saturday's Dueling Brushes competition and knew exactly what I would paint, but this year I wasn't that well-prepared. I drove off Saturday morning with no idea of where or what to paint. Approaching downtown, I figured the top level of the parking garage was as good a location as any for a roofscape of the city. There were three other painters set up there already. We all worked assiduously during the time allotted, then rushed off to put our paintings in frames and get them and our easels down to the city dock by noon. The painting above was the result--not very inspiring.

Was it my mood, or was the crowd at the city dock more subdued this year as well? The juror took a long time to make her decisions-- this year the artist awards were gift certificates for art supplies rather than cash prizes. By the time the awards were announced it was nearly two o'clock and the pool of buyers had vanished. The artists started to pack up their gear. As I was leaving a lady looked at my painting and its modest price tag. I looked her in the eye and told her I'd sell it for even less. She said she liked it, but really preferred another painting of the same view done by one of the other artists who had been at the garage with me. His painting was next to mine, but he too had disappeared. She asked for my contact information in case she could not find him and might settle for mine instead.

After wolfing my brown bag lunch I set out to do another painting--I still didn't have anything worthy of the members' show. The afternoon was gorgeous, but by this time I was in a bit of a funk--tired and discouraged. I went up on State Circle and started a new painting (always hoping that the next one will be the one). I wanted to hear Kenn Backhaus' lecture on plein air painting at St. John's at five, and time slipped by too quickly-- there wasn't time to finish. I would have to enter the doorway with the garden in the members' show or not show at all (in retrospect, this might have been a wiser choice).

Sunday morning I drove back to Annapolis to deliver my framed painting to Maryland Hall by ten, then swung around to Olney on the way back to pick up the artist registration packet for the Olney Plein Air coming up next weekend. Hopefully this event will be a little more relaxed, as it's closer to home and we have two weekends to paint, with another week to turn in the framed paintings.

Back at the house I had brunch with Herb (Sandy was off seeing other old friends) and then drove back to Annapolis at four for the reception at Maryland Hall. I was very pleased that my teacher, Lee Boynton, received second prize among the juried artists. There were some wonderful paintings here, but the red dots seemed sparser than last year.

To top off what turned out to be a lackluster weekend, on the way out I twisted my ankle on a step and fell on the concrete walk. A gentleman behind me kindly helped me back onto my feet. By evening the bruises and swelling were so painful I couldn't walk. Thank heaven I'd arranged to take today off from work--I need to recover.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Yellow Lady Slipper

Yellow Lady Slipper, watercolor, 14" x 10." $150 unframed.

A few springs ago my friend Linda and I explored the Thompson Wildlife Management Area in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. We were hoping to hike through the stands of 'Millions of Trilliums' that are unique to this particular location. As we trampled through woodlands transformed by the magic of spring, we were delighted to find several small stands of Yellow Lady Slipper (Cypriedum calceolus) and another unusual orchid, Showy Orchis (Orchis spectabilis) growing near the paths.

We returned the following spring to paint the Yellow Lady's Slipper from life, but my field sketch did not capture the graceful lines of the plant: its banded leaves, the spiral curling of the two upper petals. I put away my sketch for future reference.

This weekend I dug it out along with my photos and painted this watercolor as a companion piece to the Ghost Flowers. Accurate drawing of its complex shapes is essential to bring the plant to life.