My First Plein Air Paint Out

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?

View from River’s End Inn

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!

When I got to the beach, the fog was setting in and I could not decide what view to paint. It was busy with lots of people. I generally like to paint quietly in my studio or in a more deserted spot for Plein Air.
I did spend a lot of time on this one, and I am afraid it shows. By the time I finished my first day of painting I was pretty tired and wind-burned. Nevertheless, I took it back and hung it on my wall. The Art Center provided free pizza that night, and they even had gluten free. That and glass of wine was perfect!

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”.

By this time, I am beginning to think that I do not work as well under pressure. The next day I went to Fort Bragg with a very nice woman I met to paint at the harbor. I decided to paint something a little more simple. I painted the trees on the hill above the harbor.
It was fun and relaxing and we painted in an area where there were not many people.

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.

My First Plein Air Paint Out

Life Drawing

I took a life drawing class in Sacramento last weekend, and enjoyed the experience. I had not worked in charcoal in several years. It took a while to get back into it. There were two very experienced models. We started out with five minute poses, which we erased, then went on to twenty minute poses. These are all twenty minute poses.

Life Drawing

Commissioned Art – Yes or NO!

So a friend of an acquaintance of mine, whom I met briefly once, called and wanted me to do a portrait of her granddaughter. I told her that I did commissions, but that I was not a “Portrait Artist” per se. She looked at my work and insisted I do it for her. When I told her my prices, there was a long pregnant pause. I told her it would be $50 less if she framed it, knowing all too well it would cost her considerably more if she were to have it framed at a frame shop. She sent me the photo, and asked that I take out the toy in the hand and add a beach with palm trees in the background. I personally thought it was overkill, and let her know in a subtle manner. I did as she asked, and spent about four days on the painting. I was charging $400 unframed and $450 unframed.

I am finally learning at this point in life, not to be as trusting as I have been all my life. I did not ask for a deposit. Shame on me! I trusted she would like the finished product.

Well, it did not turn out that way. She did not like it; never came to see it in person and was pretty rude in her interactions with me.

This is the photo that she emailed to me. She said she loved the hat, and wanted palm trees in the background on the beach. She wanted the green toy removed.
This what I sent her, then I redid the lips, but did not send. I did not hear from here the first week, the second week she said she was ill, and this went on for about a month and a half. I sent a note and said she did not have to buy it if she did not like it. Well, she certainly did not!
But rather than even stopping by to see it in person, she sent a “text” saying that: ” She did not like it all, and it looked nothing like her granddaughter, and her son did not think it looked her either. She NEVER saw the portrait itself.

I think I am a little upset, as I spent longer on it than I normally do on a painting, and basically wasted three days of my life. But did I really waste my time, or was this a message I needed.

I texted her back saying this was not a photograph, but was represented an image of her granddaughter. She stated she would pay me nothing, and that part is rude, but not unexpected. I added that I learned a good lesson: Don’t do commissions for someone you do not know, and get part of the money upfront. I wasted time and nice linen canvas. The thing I really cannot believe is that she could not bother to even stop by and take a look. I think she just decided she did not want to spend the money.

A family member in the interim asked me to do a portrait of her daughter, and she loved it. She did not ask for a background, which is usually nominal in a child’s portrait, but gave a photo that showed the whole head, without a huge hat.

I still do not call myself a portrait artist, and will not step out and take a chance with a total stranger. The woman who did not accept the portrait of her granddaughter did not say thank you for your time or even offer to pay for the canvas or my time.

It is one thing to accept negative comments, but something entirely different to be treated so rudely. How do I know, maybe she is just not a happy person or I did not make her grandbaby a beauty contest winner??

You can be the judge of that! I think I will just draw a mustache on the painting and deliver it to it’s proper home: The trash!

Commissioned Art – Yes or NO!

Redoing a Painting

When we were staying in Newport and having dinner, this fishing boat passed by the window. I liked the composition, but not the colors. I thought about it for a while and decided I would try to add a sunset behind the bridge. I painted this about a year ago, and still thought it looked a little dull.

This is the original attempt and it seems lack-lustre.
So I gave it a little more life today, and now I think it is dancing almost too much and I really am not wild about the colors. The fishing boat is too centered in the painting and I think it is “dump worthy”. this just goes to show that you are not always successful with your painting. But if you do not try new things, then you do not grow. As I look at the composition, it is not my best.

What shall I paint tomorrow?

Redoing a Painting

Painting Abstracts is Fun!!

40 x 16 Abstract needs a name.
40 x 30 Abstract needs a name too!

The idea of painting something big and colorful without boundaries is exciting. It can look like whatever you want and/or how you feel that day! I must be feeling excited about life, as I think these two come out as vibrant and fun and happy!

Of course they are always for sale, as the creative process is what brings me joy!

Painting Abstracts is Fun!!

Buena Vista Bar in San Francisco

Every time I go to San Francisco, I love to stop at Buena Vista and have an Irish Coffee. I have been doing this since before I was even 21. (Oh no). I only ate there once with my family when my sons were very young. I highly recommend the Irish Coffee, but not so much the food. (Although it may have improved in the last thirty years) The fries were good.

I recently went there with a group of fun women, where we laughed and loved our Irish Coffees. Can’t wait to go there again. It is always perfect, no matter what time of day! I loved the ambiance of the restaurant, even though the view was cut off by a tent outside because of Covet 19.

I painted this a couple of months ago and just kept looking at it, thinking it was just “too light” in color for a bar. I’m hoping to paint a few more bars in the future, as they just seem way too interesting to me.

All my artwork is for sale.

Buena Vista Bar in San Francisco

So I’m going to be featured artist in a local gallery

It was a last minute happening, so I have to take pieces that are already framed, as other than two inch canvases everything needs to be framed and ready for hanging. Fifteen pieces are now ready to go. In other galleries where I’ve shown my work and had my own show, you took your work in, hung it yourself and each one was labeled on the wall with information: Price, size, material & etc. At this one, there is a list to be made, someone else hangs your show and each piece has a rather complicated tag. It took all day to pull this together, and I still do not have a list of cards yet. Those need to each have a description, even though I put the name of the piece on every one.

It is about this point if you wonder if it is worth the work? Since I am new to the area, it will be interesting to see if anything sells?

This the largest piece I am showing at 36″ x 36″. It has been in my family room for the last year and I do like the piece, but needed a “Show-Stopper”. Hope it catches the attention of people coming into the gallery. It was painted after the fires in Vacaville and is called: “The Air is Clearing”. It is available for $2500.

Lagoon Valley was painted from a photo I took while walking around this lake. It is 24 x 18″ and is for sale for $750.00.

“And the Ducks Liked the Boat” was a derelict boat in a small canal that I photographed, while we were out looking for Christmas Trees last year. We did not get a tree, but this photo of the boat was lovely. It is 14″ x 11″ and available for $550.00
“Down By the Sea” is a Plein Air from Monterey. It was such a beautiful spot! Hope I captured the essence of the scene! It is 12″ x 9″ and can be yours for $450.
Mardi Gras is a smaller 7″ x 5″ watercolor that is framed and for sale at the gallery for $250.

A River Runs Through is 12″ x 9″ and available for $450 at the gallery.

There are several other pieces.

Come visit the Fairfield Suisun City Visual Arts Association

1350 Travis Blvd, Fairfield, CA 94533

So I’m going to be featured artist in a local gallery

Big Families

Forty people eating and talking around picnic tables under the walnut trees in a family orchard. The aunts named Gertrude, Elsie and Helen, the uncles Chet, Ralph and Jim, and all the rest of the family bringing together food and laughter.  No liquor needed to added to have a great time in the 1950’s. I still remember great music, fun games and running free on the farm when everyone decided it was time for a Sunday picnic. There was no drama and no one really expected much from the other people there.  The host provided a house and everyone else brought the food and merriment.

outdoor picnic

For some reason family get-togethers are no longer a picnic.  Families live all over the world and when they come together or try to come together there are underground stresses and tension is in the air.  Maybe it was better that no one was allowed to use the house, outhouses were common and you drank water out of the hose when you got thirsty. The host or hostess was not expected to provide everything and if there was anything to alcoholic to drink it was cheap beer, not the $10 for six you have to buy now or fresh made lemonade.

It was post-war and everyone was just happy to be alive. Bring that forward some fifty years and it is a different world. There not lots of aunts and uncles around, there are combined families that really don’t know each other and don’t seem to want to try to know each other. Everyone has their own agenda.  They arrive at the host house with nothing in hand, as they are family and you as patriarch should take care of everyone, even if they are grown adults.

This summer has been interesting.  I have my six year-old granddaughter for the summer, which is lovely, but a little tiring at my age.  Thank Heavens for Summer Camp, where she goes weekdays and has a wonderful time.

My three sons and one wife came to visit the same weekend for the first time in many years and it was great to catch up. We went to bed early and they spent the night by our new beach side fire pit. I discovered in the morning, that our fire pit can get too hot and melted the boards directly under it, so I placed concrete pavers to alleviate the problem and cleaned up the mess left behind.

The next weekend, my husband’s two sons, one wife, his daughter and husband with two daughters arrived. Once again, we did a big barbecue and provided lots beer and wine. The girls and my husband and I retired early while the group stayed up most the night around the fire pit. Once again in the morning, I cleaned up the mess discovering a few more burn marks and said nothing to any of the group.

I am discovering at a rather old age that family get-togethers do not often go as well as one might think. It certainly is not the 1950’s, when even adult children respected their parents. They seem to think house rules are not meant for family members, and a couple think the house belongs to them too, even though none of them were raised in this house that I designed and built while single after my own sons had lives of their own.

It is a concept I am having a hard time wrapping my head around. And now at the age of almost sixty-eight I have been called a “Fucking Bitch” for the first time in my life because I would ask you take you shoes off in the house, please don’t take good crystal to the beach, please only eat in the kitchen, dining room or outdoors and dogs are okay to sleep above in my studio, but not on our new carpet. My sons have no problem with this; and I guess the bonus is, I can take one thing off my Bucket List, being called a Fucking Bitch before I die.  Got to find humor in life.

It is so easy to write a quick email when you are angry and send it. Phone calls may actually give the party on the receiving end a chance to explain themselves before they are crucified via email. There is no turning back with email. Press that send button and it is history.  Letter writing and thank you notes are virtually a thing of the past. Social Media rules the day, and I am not sure it is such a good think.

Recently I blocked  a couple family members that told me how much, not just that they hated me, but how much they hated me, and they wonder why I blocked them on FB.  Really, do I need to share what makes me happy with someone that dislikes me that much.  I don’t think so. It is an interesting place to be in our culture, as never before could hate be so easily shared.  I am not sure blogging is the best venue either and maybe just writing in a journal and keeping it to yourself is better. There are consequences for everything we do, but what is funny is that there are consequences for what we don’t do and people think we did.

Big Families

Aging in a Young World

Today I was reading about a young couple that had lost two babies before finally being blessed with two beautiful boys.  They write a blog about the experience at age 26 that tells of their trials and now how it is to raise their two young sons.  I think it is fabulous that they now have a family they can enjoy and was totally intrigued that they could support their family in a very nice manner by writing a blog.

It started me thinking.  By the age of (in my case – 67) 65, if you have had an interesting life at all, you have had lots of ups and downs, happinesses and sadness, challenges with defeats and hopefully more challenges with successes.   There is a growing population of maturing adults as medicine improves and we get to enjoy aging in a much healthier manner.

Why not write a blog about aging in our society? There are so many stories out there that are captivating about interesting successes of the maturing adult.  Many entrepreneurial magazines tell of the successful careers of self-starters that did not begin at a young age.  There are so many benefits of being a little older, I thought maybe it might be a fascinating venue to explore.

I will call it “STEEL” as so many of us mature folks have a little steel in our hair coloring, steel in our backbone and a few have a little steel in one or more of our limbs.  Steel will talk about daily adventures, senior discounts, commentary of being older in a young world, fun ideas for retiring, life stories we have lived through and hopefully make a difference to those of us that are “seniors” or will be soon.

Aging in a Young World

Artwork in its new home

Flower BuddiesScreen Shot 2016-01-11 at 6.05.18 PM

For the last about 15 years I have been enjoying the creative pastime of painting and drawing.  Over the years I have sold many pieces and with the exception of a  doctor’s office, where I helped install the work I seldom get to see it in it’s new environment.

The second photo is of a piece I sold at Interiors of Edmonds and the new owner was kind enough to share a photo of it hanging in her lovely home.  All artists should be so lucky to see where their work finds a home.

Thank you for sharing.

http://www.dianakingsley.net

Artwork in its new home