OPA Charleston Plein Air Paint Out

Finally a real paint out and after a year of attending these events a win. I’ve been working up to the season’s events all summer and am a bit frustrated by the lack of serious traditional paint outs. This event was sponsored by the Oil Painter’s of America so it was well thought out and properly executed. That means a regular check in with a stamp applied to the media and an allotted time for painting. No taking it home and working on it. I prefer one day also, three days is just too much effort unless they guarantee sales or a big cash prize. The money was not a big deal in this instance but It was really nice to have the opportunity to sell to the clients that host Hilarie Lambert and Lambert Gray Gallery provided.

I planned this day to fit into a small vacation, the first we’ve taken in a year and the first taken with just my wife in several years. I really enjoy going places with her alone and getting a chance to be just a couple. This time she got a little taste of what I’ve been up to and I think she enjoyed it. Certainly better when you win and I’m thinking of taking her along again—she’s my lucky Penny. After all, she is an artist and was a big help in selection and with some of the logistics, helping me set up for the first painting and then going on her merry way shopping while I worked.

The view is of a famous early colonial duplex house called the pirate’s house. I took some noticed of this dwelling on a previous trip to Charleston. It stands right across from the famous St. Phillips Church at 145 Church Street and  has a shocking red door and shutters. I’ve been using a longer drying medium for the last few weeks and it tends to force me into using a bit more paint to cover underlying rough ins. This combined with the addition of Naples yellow to my palette has changed the look of my work. I had to paint “around ” several trucks while working on this and used the early light to advantage catching the shadows as they moved down the building. Not many folks were wondering around early but that was to change as the day went on. Penny came back just as I was finishing up bringing my frame from the car. We then walked South to the Gallery on Broad Street, dropped off the painting and went to lunch at the Brown Dog Cafe.

After a good bite we walked South toward the Battery looking for a good spot for number two. It was a bit warmer and it took us almost an hour to settle on a location. I let the pure excitement of the area get to me choosing a very complicated view looking into the gardens of the largest house in Charleston, the Calhoun Mansion. Ten minutes in I realized it was too much of everything. Three floors of porches with Corinthian columns! I toughed it out —bad move. In the end I spent the good side of four hours painting in and painting out. I must of heard a dozen oral histories of the edifice as I worked from tour groups stopping to tell all about this way over the top structure. One nice woman got to talking to me and spent at least forty five minutes watching as I flogged myself painting in the fence. Way too much info even for the larger 11 x14″. Penny stopped back in finally with the second frame, just as tired as I was but we mustered some strength, got the board in the frame and walked about a mile back to the gallery getting in around five.

Forty five artists were involved in the event and most were upstairs already enjoying some wine and conversation. With a few minutes to spare I took all our equipment back to the truck while Penny made friends. I got back in time to wash up and look around. After about an hour everyone voted for their favorite and the winners were announced. I was pleased with 145 Church Street and thought it was in the running but still very shocked to get first place. I was very fortunate to be hung in one of the best spots in the gallery and  win by just one vote. Elizabeth Maddour was runner up and several other artists won prizes.  My prize is a $450 quarter page ad in Art Mag – Charleston’s local art publication. I’m not sure what I’ll do with this— at least I can put a decent ad together. The real prize is my first win, I can only hope for a many more.

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