Last Saturday I drove South of Atlanta on I75 for a plein air event in the little town of Indian Springs. About half way to Macon, it’s a quaint, small town dominated by Indian Springs State Park. This is the oldest state sanctioned park in the nation. The reason for the early interest was a the warm spring water that bubbles to the surface here. It’s healing and healthful properties are still popular today. This area of Georgia is old and well established with charming southern style clap board homes, a favorite of mine. Several large hotels were constructed here in the late 1800s for tourist visiting the springs. During the depression this was one of the parks that benefited from the CCC. Their tell-tale stone construction make up a good deal of the buildings including a wonderful bridge that crosses the steam, A large eating pavilion and several spring houses.
Having left around 8am I did not arrive until almost 10 in the morning and this was a mistake as it took me another hour or more to decide on a spot. I had done some research and was determined to do a view of the unique bridge—again a mistake. I felt the competition was good but that I had a good chance at placing in the top three. So I set up in the middle of the steam and did a low view of the bridge getting some stream in the foreground and even some figures. I discovered two other painters near working on the same view and noticed from their equipment that they were experienced. After spending three hours on a 9×12 I turned around and finished up with a 8×8″ looking the other way. I’ve been having problems working in the direct sunlight with my shadows appearing too dark when inside. This ended up adding to my lack of success—plus some curious turn of events.
The competition was organized by the Generations Gallery and is part of an effort to showcase the town and it’s rather charming qualities. After getting over to the gallery by the 3PM I spent about 40 minutes getting everything framed up for judging. I had some trouble with the 8×8 and required some help—another foe pa. Several of the stores and business’ appeared to be owned by one young woman named Frankie. As it goes, she was quite lovely, and charming, giving a brief pep talk about the local attractions and the hope of residents to establish Indian Springs as an arts center for the area. I mingled and was delighted to meet up with Daly Smith whom I met at the Pine Mountain event in April. I also noticed that he was one of artist painting the same bridge view. None the less. Daly is an excellent painter and I delighted to get in some discussion with him before judging at 4.
The quality of the rest of the work was spotty—a few good pieces mixed in and quite a few “craft” type paintings. I was confident of my work but was dismayed when I found that they did not have an expert to judge the show. This was curious because several of the organizers were painters themselves. Everyone at the show was given a vote and each artist two. About thirty people attend including 11 artists. I made another mistake not voting for myself at all and giving Daly one vote.
Third place went to a elderly lady for a view of one of Frankie’s gardens in a barn wood frame. This was the $100 purchase prize from Butts County Arts Alliance. I priced the 8×8 at that point just for a shot at this. Second prize of $200 went to Daly Smith for his bridge view—no argument here. I waited in an anticipation thinking that I might have picked up first but was dismayed when the same painting that won third came in first! All I can think is that all her friends were there and voting for her. I’m sure it was just a matter of numbers but in my opinion there were 8 other paintings better than the one that won. Democracy has no merit in art competitions unless it’s a People’s Choice Award outside the top three. Appreciation of the work is one reason I go to such events and this failed my expectations. I apologize for my thoughts and see no one to blame for not doing better other than myself —I just made some questionable decisions that in the end might of cost me a chance.
#1. Get there early and do your scouting quickly, #2. Appraise the competition and don’t paint the same view as they do, #3. Have all your framing options worked out beforehand, #4. Don’t work in direct sunlight, #5. Always vote for yourself!
A kicker to the long hot day was being told by Daly as I left “you got robbed” —nice, but probably not true in all those circumstances. Finally, as penalty for my ill thoughts I was subjected to 4 hour drive home on 75N after a wreck of some sort. Not my best day but I will not be deterred. Still working for that 1st place finish.