Tuesday, December 27, 2016

16 Together In 2016

2016 was the busiest year of my life. Together, Kimberly and I traveled from coast to coast, border to border, through 30 States, attending 16 plein air events. I have to stress that word "together," as I couldn't have done this alone. After completing around 150 paintings, I have to say I'm better for it, but DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS ALONE. Without a lot of support, I would have lost my way.

While I'm painting, Kimberly is busy shooting her own work, and we usually find inspiration in the same locations and each other's work. It's great to be able to get a fresh perspective at a moment's notice.

Our first event of the year was Lighthouse Plein Air Festival in Tequesta, Florida. This was my first opportunity to paint boats of any kind, and I must admit I fell in love with it. There's something about the structure of a boat - the curves of the hull, the lines of the masts and rigging - and the balance created by the reflections in the water that add a sense of excitement to a painting. While my compositions started with single boats, I found more challenge and satisfaction in painting groupings as the year progressed. It's easy to get lost in the more complicated compositions, and there were many times when I considered wiping out a painting while Kimberly encouraged me to continue.

My 2016 progression of boats. Photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

In April, we attended the Outdoor Painters Society's Plein Air Southwest Salon in Dallas, where a paint out was held in a local park. I chose to paint a beautiful old tree at the edge of the water. Trees have always been a challenging subject for me, and I had never painted one that I felt satisfied with. Similar to my experience with the boats, Kimberly encouraged me to keep moving forward. That morning, everything felt right. It was the first time I achieved what I set out to accomplish in painting a tree. I was honored that the painting went on to win the Artist's Choice Award that day.

Some of the trees of 2016. Photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

After returning to a number of events and workshop opportunities in the Midwest that we had first experienced in 2015, we spent two months on the East Coast - Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and New York, and I was fortunate to be able to participate in some of the country's most premier plein air events. It was my first time at Plein Air Easton, Easels in Frederick, Plein Air Richmond, and more. Museum visits in D.C. and New York for inspiration, and two visits to the Dog Fish Brewery made for a memorable trip. It always helps to have someone suggest what to submit for award consideration, and thanks again to Kimberly, some pieces that I would have overpainted won.

Some of the award winners from the East Coast portion of our trip.
Photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

Heading west, we attended the Door County Plein Air Festival for the first time. I hadn't been to Door County since I was a child, and this was Kimberly's first visit. The event covers a very large area, and while I worked on one painting, Kimberly was out exploring and photographing, letting me know if another small town had what I wanted to paint.

"Unintended Garden" (oil on panel, 16"x20"). An example of the abundant Queen Anne's Lace.
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

We traveled all the way to Olympic National Park and beyond to Cape Flattery, the northwestern most point of the continental US to attend the Paint the Peninsula event. Neither of us had ever been to the area before, and we were blown away by the beauty. Driving to locations often took hours, and it was far more enjoyable and safer to experience together.

"Above & Below the Sol Duc" (oil on panel, 14"x18").
Winner of the Olympic Rangers Interpretation Award at Paint the Peninsula.
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

After driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with the Airstream in tow (stopping in Sonoma, San Francisco, Laguna Beach and Palm Springs) we headed east again.

Painting our way down the West Coast. Photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

On our first visit to the Sedona Plein Air Festival, we were introduced to Jerome, Arizona - one of the most charming towns we have experienced. The view's not bad either.

"Hillside History, Jerome" (oil on panel, 16"x20). Best of Show at Sedona Plein Air Festival.
Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Our last event of the year, and by far the most successful yet, was En Plein Air Texas. Great food, people and places to paint!

"Mustang Sally's" (oil on panel, 12"x16"). Second Place Award at EnPleinAirTexas. Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Looking back, I have to admit that I was intimidated by the thought of so many events in one year. I didn't know if I could pull off the grueling schedule. With each new painting, I didn't know if I could achieve what I set out to capture - and I must admit that many times I didn't. But with success or failure, I gained confidence. We kept each other excited about what the next event, the next town, and the next day would bring. I can look back and see the growth in my work. There are paintings I'm proud of and paintings I'm embarrassed by. Even so, with each new challenge, and Kimberly's constant help, I moved forward. Everybody needs their artistic confidant. Kimberly is mine.

I'm ready for more in 2017. - Patrick

P.S. I'm sure you'll get Kimberly's perspective on these events in her upcoming blog post.

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