Monday, June 27, 2011

Happy Dance! "Rainy Day Blue" gets the Blue Ribbon!!

"Rainy Day Blue"
10x8 oil
I feel so honored to have won 1st place in the Riveredge Portion of the Cedarburg Plein Air Competition 2011. This was a new one day paint out at the beautiful Riveredge Nature Center in Saukville, WI. Even though it rained all day there I was able to find some shelter under a deck to paint this view of one of their classroom buildings. I was taken by all the blue in the atmosphere with the rain as it did some really interesting things to the light. Thanks to the Riveredge staff for opening up their place to all of the artists and for the great lunch!! (

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cedarburg 2011, Painting in the Rain and some Tough Choices

"Selfless Abandon"
12x16 oil

"Morning Meditation"
12x16 oil

The 11th annual Cedarburg Plein Air Competition was held this past 8 days and I need to tell you it is at the top of my fun list every summer. With over 150 artists attending this open competition there is always plenty of  great social time as well as some serious painting. Normally I would paint 8-10 pieces and then pick my best two for entry in the competition. However this year I had a family wedding to attend which required missing 3 days right out of the middle! (all worth it mind you.)

The event kicked off with something new this day of painting at a beautiful nature reserve (Riveredge in Saukville). It was a very rainy day and I had to leave at 1pm. I found a great spot under a deck to paint. I always keep some small plastic tarps in my paint bag so I laid it out on the deck above held down with some well placed rocks and voila...dry space! There will be separate awards for this portion of the event . The staff there was extremely warm and fed us all a wonderful lunch. All the pieces need to be 8x10. Here is my piece:

Rainy Day Blue
8x10 oil

The second day (Thursday) was the start of the 7 day painting window and looked to be the best weather for me anyway and as I had to leave on my trip Friday I was anxious to at least get a few good starts. My friend Judith Reidy and I spent much of the day together. In the morning we painted in Horn Park, a delightful place along the river that I had painted in before. "Morning Meditation" (above) is what became of my effort and I have submitted it as one of my 2 competition pieces.

20x10 oil

We found a beautiful farm to paint in the afternoon. I was tired and don't feel quite resolved with this painting but the weather has not been the same since and so it will have to wait to be finished for another day.Then it was off to southern Indiana on Friday for the wedding and back on Sunday. I missed the quick paint which is one of my favorite things to do...poor me...:) This coming Saturday there is one more chance for an award as we have from 8-2pm to "Paint the Festival". With an expected 50,000 people in attendance painting Cedarburg's Strawberry Festival will bring it's own challenges. At least ideal weather is in the forecast! Also all the works will be sold by silent auction (ends promptly at 4pm) at the Cedarburg Cultural Community Center this coming should come!

On Monday I was very tired and achy from the trip (fibro is not my friend), it was raining and looked like it might do that for the rest of the week and I admit I had to wrestle with myself to get down to it. I made a decision to paint in solitude as I knew I would be distracted by a friend. So I drove around Cedarburg looking for the next inspiration. It came in the form of a bunch of Dahlias at the Steins garden tent on Western.  I was able to back my car up to them and open the hatch to sit. That and both my umbrellas kept me somewhat dry and a little uncomfortable. But the Dahlias spoke to me...there they were, outrageous in their bounty and beauty...rain spilling off their petals...some heads bowed. They cared not who saw their performance...their effort of extravagant praise. They gave all in utter abandon...I watched, cut to the quick with the lesson I was seeing unfold before me. My response is the painting at the top of this post and my second entry, entitled "Selfless Abandon"...I hope I've done them some small justice.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Green Lake, Beloit and Pie Night (The value of Critique)

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks as we have begun the Plein air competition season in Wisconsin in earnest. A new and delightful one day event (in spite of some rain) was held in charming Green Lake WI. A resort community about an hour and a half drive from boasts some unmatched scenery and a charming downtown area.  My hubby came with me much to my delight and read and played his guitar while I painted. I spotted the small Historical Society building and decided to further hone my architectural prowess (or lack thereof) with a small is my result:

 Historical Society, Green Lake
10x8 oil 

  Then it began to pour and so I tucked myself and my easel up under the porch of this building and painted the apple tree just behind. Time was pressing so I got out my trusty palette knife and went to work. I am very happy with the results:

Apple Tree at the Historical Society, Green Lake 
oil 12x12

For a short time yet both of these paintings can be seen at Margaret York's beautiful Gallery called Arts of Daycholah (

Then it was on to prepping for the Beloit plein air Competition called Edge of the Rock. Located an hour and a half drive southwest from me it is located along the Rock river and while the painting area is small and confined mostly to the renovated riverfront it was a great event! My friend Judith Reidy and I went together on Sunday just as mid August style heat set in! Wow...we went from 56 degrees when we left my house early in the morning to 99 and steamy on the way home as the sun went down. There was a new area inside the Beloit College that we were allowed to paint in so we headed there first and stayed most of the morning. I painted this:

Middle College
12x16 oil

After some lunch and some much needed cooling off at a great local coffee place we headed back to the riverfront/lagoon area. We were seeking a location to paint in the shade with a great view as the temperature was ramping up fast! I noted a spot with some irises and a bridge over to the small island but kept on looking when Judith pulled me back over  there and said I should paint that. She thought it looked like a good "Wendie" painting. So we set up there and I started. A mom and hers kids stopped to look and the daughter helped me name it ...Path to Turtle Island. I was very happy with the result of this piece and sold it to a wonderful couple at the opening a few days later!

Path to Turtle Island
12x12 oil SOLD

Judith and I went back again on Monday. The heat and the wind were so bad that all I produced was a "wiper" but Judith got a good start on a lovely painting!

Then last night Judith hosted her first "Pie Conversation Party" of the season when a group of mostly artists and musicians gathered to talk "shop".  Lively critique of work ensued.  Used to be I would be very intimidated by this activity...especially around a group of highly educated artists as I have no "formal" art education. However,  I have learned to really value the measured (even sometimes harsh) commentary of my peers as I listen to what they believe would make my work and others stronger. I take what they say and ask myself if that would fit into my personal aesthetic/style/message. I have learned to bring a "take what you like and leave the rest" attitude as wearing that kind of armor prevents me from being bruised and blooded past the point of return. I learn...and that is worth it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cherries and Tea: The large and small of it!

Cherries and Tea 
12x12 oil

Cherries and Tea
6x6 oil

Painting at the Clinton Street Gallery while working is always a blast! Customers roaming about, asking questions about my process. Some really great art conversations have been etched in my mind in this way.  I worked from a photo I had of my tarnished teapot in my dining room window along with two bowls of cherries. Something about the light grabbed my attention. I may do more of these as that window provides endless still life potential.


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