Last Saturday, the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville held a Civil War re-enactment in conjunction with a quick draw event. This is a wonderful museum only about 40 minutes north of my home in Marietta, so I was delighted to go and excited by the prospects of some interesting subject matter. The weather was perfect, as it’s been all Spring and I enjoyed the ride up with the top down. Start time was an early 9a.m. and when I arrived they were just setting up the camp and guns for the demonstrations. I checked in, got my panels stamped and looked around for a good spot to paint. Just up the road from the museum they have a large area used for these re-enactments, I believe it’s part of the Bartow History Museum. On the site a full civil war camp was recreated with tents, wagons and displays along with a stage. Throughout the day they had several events, including a full concert of Civil war era music by a great band— even Abraham Lincoln came back from the grave to give a speech. I did a few quick drawings, starting with a view of a blue cook wagon and blacksmiths forge but three other painters were doing the same so I decide on another of a camp tent and some of the wonderful people dressed in period costume. About fifteen artists were participating, and as usual some were beginners but there were a few professional scattered in. I decided to two paintings in the four hours allotted. Spending almost three hours on the camp view I packed up and hurried over to the live fire artillery demonstration. I was able to sketch in the guns and work out a composition and then when they set up to fire I quickly put in some figures taking advantage of the smoke to obscure some the details and background. Working without a break I was done by the 1pm. but had no time for in-progress shots as I usually do. I headed over to the museum to frame them up and wondering around with two wet panels finely got in the right spot and got everything ready for the show at 3pm.
I had some time so I cleaned up a bit and decided to check out the museum. A note to any artist in the area or visiting this Summer—the Booth is worth the trip! They have a fantastic collection of paintings and sculpture in their permanent collection, both classic western art along with more modern work. This probably the best museum in the country for this genre and although I am not a big fan of modern western art I was very impressed with the newer work. Since my last visit six years ago the collection has doubled. In addition this Summer they are hosting the Art from the National Parks show from the Haggin Museum in Stockton CA showcasing 100 paintings by some of the premier plein air painters in America such as Kenn Backhaus, Kathryn Stats, Skip Whitcomb and more. This a tremendous show of both plein air and studio w0rk of spectacular landscapes from national parks across the nation. Each artist has several works from the park assigned to them. I was especially interested in the instances where they showed the plein air sketch next to the studio version. I spent as much time as I could Saturday but intend to visit again before it leaves in September.
At about three I went back down to a reception room they had hung the paintings and prepared for the judging and awards ceremony. Brett Weaver, an painter from Chattanooga was the judge—he ran a plein air workshop on Friday and stayed over for the event. He’s a very talented young guy and had several of his paintings on display along with a fresh one he did during the quick draw (pictured) Some of the other artists there included Niki Davidson from Marietta and Booth Malone, a painter from Columbus. Booth does fine work and is famous for his equestrian paintings along with portrait work. He was one of the jurried artists at the Callaway Gardens event last week but I did not meet him there. I introduced myself and talked to him for a bit—always interesting talking to a full time painter.
Five awards were given out, just merit awards— no cash. I was lucky and surprised to get awarded for my cannon quickee, Booth Malone for his view of the cook wagon, Nicki Davidson’s won for a painting of one of the outdoor sculptures, my friend Jane Spingfield also picked up an award for her figurative watercolor. I apologize for the poor photos of the finished work – they were taken inside. Everything was priced and available for sale to museum visitors but only one painting sold Saturday. The work will remain at the museum until next weekend. Again, I felt comfortable with my ability to compete with some of the better artists. I feel I can work under the pressure of time limits and I’m getting better at the logistics part of the process. I’m looking forward to the Blue Ridge Paint Out this next weekend.
A word of thanks to the staff at the Booth for a great job putting this event together. I hope they see some benefit from it and decide to try it again.