Sunday, July 26, 2015

Competition + Camaraderie = Creativity!

The year 2015 has been a great year for me in several ways:  I've produced some of my best work and have participated in 3 plein air events, each one different in their own way:
Event #1 - April 2015:  The Outdoor Painters Society's juried membership show "Plein Air Southwest Salon" hosted by Southwest Gallery in Dallas. This annual event presents plein air paintings completed in the previous calendar year.  OPS members submit up to 3 entries to a jury panel.  On average, more than 300 paintings are submitted with the jury accepting around 200.  Accepted artists compete for $20,000 in cash and merchandise awards.  The juror this year was Phil Starke of Arizona - great talent and a good eye for excellence.  I had 4 paintings in the show - didn't win an award, but just being a part of the event was award enough for me.
Event #2 - June 2015:  Paint Historic Waxahachie - This tenth annual paint out event is open to any artist working in the plein air tradition.  I'm the organizer of this event so I "wear 2 hats"; I'm "event staff" AND a participant.   One of my paintings was awarded 2 place by this year's juror, Deborah Paris.
Event #3 - July 2015:  Plein Air Easton - this event is rated as the #1 plein air competition in the nation.  I was honored to be one of only 58 artists selected to participate in the 10 day paint out event.  I loaded up my little Kia SUV and drove 1400 miles to Easton, Maryland - on the eastern shore across the Chesapeake Bay from Washingto0n DC.  It took me 2 days - 22 hours - to get there. 
The result of the events:  Re-acquainted with artists I haven't seen in a while,  met and became friends with artists whose work I've followed and admired, and  - best of all - produced 20 new paintings.
Competing against the best painters in plein air events is exhausting, frustrating, exhilarating, .......and productive.  I probably do my best work in competition situations and get into a "creative zone".  What fuels my creativity is being surrounded by really talented professionals that are an inspiration to me.   Competition events aren't for everyone - and it's perfectly alright if an artist doesn't want to participate.  They travel their own creative path with other painters of like minds who simply enjoy painting outdoors.  Absolutely nothing wrong about that!
I'll have the month of August and 1st part of September to "re-group" before I leave for Kerrville, TX to teach a 3-day watercolor workshop, then participate in another paint out competition the 1st week in October, Kerrville Outdoor Painting Event.  I'm an alternate for En Plein Air Texas in San Angelo the last week of October - I don't want to wish ill on anyone, but I sure do hope there are cancellations so I can participate!  In the meanwhile, I'll share some of the paintings completed in the past couple of months....under the pressure of competition  All these paintings were completed in 2 to 4 hours, alla prima (all in one go) - no adjustments after leaving the painting location:
 These paintings and many others are in my Plein Air Gallery on my website - check them out!