The annual Bagdad-Milton (near Pensacola, FL) plein air “paint-out” was Saturday, October 1, 2016. I was honored to win Best in Show. The judge was Fred Myers, retired professor of Fine Art (University of Northern Colorado, my alma mater). He said that he initially judges art on two primary qualities — Does it invite you in? And does it have unity? The exhibit of plein air paintings produced that day will hang at the Santa Rosa Arts and Culture Foundation’s Dragonfly Gallery at 6815 Caroline Street in Milton, FL 32570 until November 11, 2016.
Gallerist Sally Miller invited the Pensacola area plein air painters to tour interesting scenes in Milton and Bagdad the day before the event.
Both days were exceptional, a clear and sunny 62° in the morning and 80° midday. On Saturday, the day of the paint-out contest, all artists were asked to go to the gallery first, have their blank canvases stamped to certify that the canvases indeed were blank, and then everyone went out to paint. I chose to paint at the Bagdad Boat Landing, one of the locations we had visited on Friday. There were many possible scenes there. The one I had liked on mid-morning on our Friday tour, two chairs on a dock walkway, backed by kayaks and a ton of nautical stuff under a house, did not have the same light early Saturday, so I looked again at the flower-lined fenced entryway to a house, the view from the private dock, and finally, a neighboring yard where a big bull mastiff glared and barked at me from the other side of the fenced until he figured out I wasn’t going away. I painted his yard. We were friends by the time I finished painting.
I am working with a new, smaller, James Coulter palette, and I am leaving my leftover oil paints on the palette, stowing it in the freezer at night. The paints are staying workable for longer than they would if I didn’t keep them in the freezer, but even so, I often find them at different consistencies the next time I use the palette. That was certainly true on Saturday, but once I start painting en plein air, it seems like the challenges just become part of the process. More than once it occurred to me to scrape out the old paint and squeeze new paint onto my palette, but somehow that seemed like it would take up too much valuable time. I was painting on a larger canvas than I usually use, 12 x 24, and I knew I had a lot to cover, so I hung in there, using a medium to modify the paint consistency, finishing at the stroke of noon, right on time. It took six minutes to pack up to go, 8 minutes to drive back to the gallery, and 15 minutes to unload and frame and wire my painting, turning it in at the last minute, at 12:30, for the judging.
Below is my painting as completed there in the paint-out.