Life is about the experiences we have, not about what we have or often what we do. I’ve been painting for several years and never really entered a larger competition. I took a class in Mendocino and my teacher suggested I should join the upcoming Mendocino Paint Out; so I signed up. As the weeks went by, I collected frames and made sure I have enough canvases. I made an hotel reservation, and thought I was set to go.
About a week before I was set to leave, I thought I should check with the hotel about my reservation. I am glad I did, as I accidentally booked a room with twin beds and a bathroom down the hall. I upped it to another room with twin beds, but my own bathroom. In the interim, my husband decided to join me for the weekend festivities, so when I arrived I asked if I could upgrade a little more, so I would have one bed, not two. I ended up having a living room, bedroom and bath, which was large, but very old and very sad. The draperies in the rooms, had blackout shades in shreds. At one time they must have been beautiful, but today they were old and looked tired. Everything looked tired. It could have been spectacular with a little love and maybe a little money.
When I got back to my room after dinner, and discovered the TV did not work, I was glad for my IPad and was set to watch a movie on it. But as I pulled back the sheets I noticed a fairly small drop of blood on both the top sheet and the bottom sheet. That did not make me smile, but I was tired from the long windy drive in pouring down rain. I just crawled in, poured myself a glass of wine and watched my “Chick Flick”.
And then it began: The first day, we all (or those who started that day) lined up to have the back of our canvases stamped. We could enjoy viewing the one piece painted before the paint out, that everyone was to bring and hang. It was a wide of assortment of talent and style. The three main artists (the judges) had their work on display. The work was interesting and varied, consisting of two oil painters and a watercolorist. Although their work was artistic, it was not particularly to my personal liking. I would learn a lesson from this later in the week.
So we all took off to find out place to paint the first day. I headed to Little River Inn, where I has stayed before, and enjoyed the distant view. I finished my first painting in a couple of hours, and headed back to town to get a bite of lunch. Waiting in line, a nice young man informed me there was a spider on my backside, before he knocked it off. I had been sitting on a quite old and damp bench painting. As it turns out, I was lucky he saw it and ended its life, as it was a Black Widow. So that was how my week began?
My first painting was 20″ x 10″, and I painted it in an already framed canvas. I forgot to have this one stamped, so had to call to get permission for it to be allowed. They were very nice, and let me use this the first day. I had time after lunch and it was a beautiful day.
I had discovered when I set up my palette to paint, that my plein air paints had all dried out, so I decided to drive to Fort Bragg to a local and wonderful art store to refresh all my oil paints to the tune of $260. Fresh and new, but an expensive lesson. Since I was already in Fort Bragg, I ventured to MacKercher Park, hoping to paint the lagoon. As I was setting up, a creature crawled out of the lagoon with a direct line toward me. I did not know what it was, but it did not look “friendly”! I had never seen, what I found out a few moments later, was a Crawdad, alive. Luckily a young woman in the parking lot knew what it was, as her father was a commercial fisherman. But I decided I would go to the other side and paint the beach!
The next day, I decided I would paint one of the beautiful houses downtown. I worked on it most of the day, and wiped it clean at the end of the day, not liking it. The next day I tackled it again and upon finishing it called it “a day”.
The last day was a quick draw contest. They give you a location and send you out. You have about a half hour to set up and two hours to paint. This year it was downtown Main Street. You could paint the beach or turn around and paint the town. There were 50-60 artists all painting downtown. I chose to go quite simple and painted the distant shore. I never knew so many small bugs could fly into a painting. Apparently they like the smell of the paint. I still need to finish the piece I did, as a gnat flew into it after I hung it up on the wall.
You can see the bug and the scratch marks, where someone tried to remove it.
That evening they had the rewards ceremony. My lesson with all this was: If you are not particularly fond of the work of the featured artists (judges), why would not be surprised that you would not have selected the same pieces to win the awards? Of all the talented artists in the contest, I did not agree with most of the winners. Many that were by far better, did not win any awards. Of the awards given, often another piece by the same artist was more beautifully executed. One of the awards went to the husband of one of the judges, and it was the one I really thought was color straight from the tube, poorly drawn and actually a little ugly.
I did not go expecting to win. I went for the experience and an experience it was! I met a lot of really nice people, and a few that were a little too overzealous about their art. I ate some great food, and some not so great food. I could not find a good latte anywhere in town, but the raw oysters in abundance made up for it, even if they were flown in from Washington State.
Many artists do ten to twelve of these a year. I found it exciting, exhausting and challenging. Would I do it again? Maybe for a shorter duration? I might try doing another medium, as no one was doing gouache, there were only a couple pastel artists and maybe one doing acrylic. That might up the odds of having a chance to win. Some paint outs provide a free place to stay, so that might make a huge difference expense wise. There are so many factors that go into deciding what to do with your art.