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

“Rich impressionist colors tainted with a little humor”

Today I was asked to describe my art in ten words or so. The painting shared today is named “Three is Not Company”. What I like to do is make you think about what I have painted and realize there is more than goes into a painting than you might think. It was the day, it was Paris, is amazing how uncomfortable the woman on the right looked as the man in the middle was intensely interested in the woman on the left.

What do you think, is it a good description of my art?


Don’t be the Ass in the Middle

Don't be the Ass in the Middle

My son Chadwyck took a photo of three horses crossing a creek outside of San Francisco, and I Liked it so much I decided to paint it, but the poor horse in the middle came out looking more like a donkey than the third horse and it made me think that some things do not always come out as they were intended. Maybe we all make mistakes in life, but the important thing is that we don’t become an “idiot” about our mistakes

Don’t be the Ass in the Middle

Quote for the Day

Quote for the Day

Yesterday I took an art class and was to take the second day of the series today, and I had such a negative reaction to how the class was taught I took the ferry to the city, packed up my paint supplies and went home. I couldn’t force myself to stay another day and feel that unsuccessful about my art. I made a comment on my Facebook page and it seems I am not the only artist that has had that happen.

I respect the artists work that I took the class from, but to every explanation she asked: “Does that make sense?” For some reason hearing that statement over and over again was something I could not handle.

Lately I have been so busy taking classes from other people, I am not spending time on my own work. I thought it would be fun to take a lot of different classes, but I forgot with that are a lot of different styles.

When I realized after a long walk on the beach with my son and my husband, I enjoy the social part of a class as much, if not more than often what I learn. So many classes are repetitious with the only variance being a different point of view.

I had not idea how many experts there are on art until I started taking classes. Yes that was a rhetorical statement.


Nicolai Fechin exhibition in Seattle

Nicolai Fechin, “Portrait of a Young Woman,” 1912, oil on canvas, 31 3/4 x 28 in. Seattle, Frye Art Museum

The Work of Nicolai Fechin

Jeffrey Carlson Reporting
Contributing Editor, Fine Art Today
Followers of the Russian master Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955) will not want to miss a large-scale exhibition now on view at the Frye Art Museum. 
The Frye Art Museum in Seattle has gathered 55 paintings and drawings by Nicolai Fechin in a major exhibition that will be on view through May 19.

Nicolai Fechin, “Lady in Pink (Portrait of Natalia Podbelskaya),” 1912, oil on canvas, 45 1/2 x 35 in. Seattle, Frye Art Museum
Titled Nicolai Fechin, the exhibition concentrates on the early Russian period of Fechin’s career, a strong point in the Frye’s permanent collection. Loans from U.S. museums and from private lenders, American and international, round out the exhibition.
At one time a student of Ilya Repin (1844-1930), Fechin led an eventful life that saw him emigrate to the United States and earn worldwide fame for his vibrant, expressive canvases. His “Lady in Pink,” now in the Frye’s permanent collection, was exhibited in the International Exhibition at the Carnegie Institute in 1913 and in the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 alongside the works of Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, and Boudin. Fechin’s career accelerated as a result of his participation in the important Exhibition of Russian Painting and Sculpture at the Brooklyn Art Museum in 1923 and his solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in the same year. Later in life he moved to Taos, New Mexico, where the landscape and Southwestern culture inspired the artist to create many brilliant pictures. The current exhibition at the Frye concludes with these Taos paintings.
Nicolai Fechin, “Nude Figure,” 1911, oil on canvas, 28 1/2 x 26 in. The Filatov Family Art Foundation
Nicolai Fechin was curated by Frye Director Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker. It is the first major overview of Fechin’s work held at the Frye Art Museum since 1976.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of lectures, classes, and gallery talks. To see the full program, visit
View my website at
Nicolai Fechin exhibition in Seattle

This was the original abstract that became a nude.

This was the original abstract that became a nude.

I think I may have found a style that I enjoy. I love doing abstracts, but adding the nude on top of the color was great fun. Please tell me what you think. The woman just seemed to emerge from the abstract and seemed to want to be seated.   I am thinking about doing more of these in the future.  Love doing abstracts and have fun drawing figures, so this might be a fun combination to do in the future. Abstract Nude


Raining in Paris

Raining in Paris

I took this photo in Paris last January and always thought it would make a fun painting. I am having a show in June at Rick Steves in Edmonds, so am trying to do a few more European paintings.

I wanted to capture the light on the building and the fun of different colored umbrellas.


Drawing Class

Second Drawing in classFinal drawing of ModelDrawing Class

Every artist should take a drawing class to hone their skills. Drawing. Drawing. Drawing. Every art teacher tell you that you have to draw before you can paint or watercolor. You have to get the drawing right.

This weekend I took a wonderful class on portraiture with Dan Riley and Joe MacKenchie, both respected Seattle artists.

Two teachers and five dedicated artists! It was great fun, exhausting and the perfect way to spend a rainy weekend.