Paintings from the Cedarburg Plein Air Competition

Posted on June 25, 2010 in Blog Post, News, Plein Air Painting

I decided to post these in the order I painted them (as best I can remember – the days are beginning to blur). This first piece was done in 80+ degree weather, I set up on the street. The light changed quickly as I wrestled with the angles of the architecture. I decided to stop after about three hours and get some place cool for awhile.

Later that day I started another, this was late in the day on Thursday. I set up across the street from a church with an interesting facade. I lost the light on this one as well. It was a struggle to stay focused, as I was being tormented by the aroma of food from the bistro behind me. I also had a lot of onlookers, the inhabitants of downtown Cedarburg had not yet acclimated to the idea of seeing a bunch of artists set up on their main drag.

After the weather threatened to change, I decided to try a quick one. This is a farmhouse on Pioneer Avenue, looking South. I actually painted this one twice. I had just managed to block in the main elements, holding an umbrella against the inconsistent drizzle, when the clouds that I was painting had washed East. I thought I might have weathered the worst of it, when the wind picked up and turned my umbrella inside out. I had to lean on my easel while fighting my umbrella closed. Then it got worse. I think being out in a field made for line winds somewhere around 60 mph. I had to hold my easel, loaded with at least 30 lbs, down to prevent it being blown over. I’ve never had to paint in such conditions before. It was damn frustrating.

I went back the next day and found a great spot on HWY I looking east onto a farm field with randomly scattered hay bales, backed by a line of trees. I set up and spent a good 4 hours working on these. Felt like a proper impressionist. Hay bales are a pain in the ass to paint, however. When I wrapped this up, I got some food and went back to the stormy painting. of course the light was changed, so I re-worked it into the image above.

Saturday was the Quick Paint competition. Unfortunately I didn’t photograph that before turning it in, there just wasn’t enough time. We get exactly two hours and thirty minutes to turn in a framed piece. I worked on a panel 9.75 x 14″. I scouted out a spot the day before on Washington Avenue looking East towards Columbia, which curves slightly to the North. At that time of morning it was an interesting play of light and angles. The small amount of shade I had when I started quickly left me standing under a hot sun. It was mid 80’s for the day. Sunday, I set up on Cedar Creek looking North on the waterfalls in this park. I decided to come back to work on this again, on Tuesday. I probably spent a good 6-8 hours on this piece. I took Monday off to work on my frames.

Tuesday I got into town late, and only had an hour and a half to work on the previous scene at Cedar Creek before the Artists’ Lunch being held at City Hall. I enjoyed some conversation and the start of a plein air demonstration before heading back. I decided that I wanted to have another go at the falls, so I set up on a larger panel, this time 12″ x 16″ again in vertical format. I ran into problems working on this piece, ended up getting muddier than I had intended. When the light changed on me, I decided to call it for this piece for the day. I managed to get in one more, a roadside scene facing South at the Western edge of Cedarburg. I set up very late, the light was perfect from the West, long and brilliant. I managed the piece below in about an hour and a half, clearly not enough time to do it justice. By the time I packed up I couldn’t lift my arm above my shoulder anymore. Had to rely on my mahl stick to steady myself.

I returned to Cedar Creek on Wednesday, spent another 4-5 hours working on the second view of the falls, which really paid off. I decided to submit the two paintings of this spot. Thursday morning I got in town with enough time to do a quick 3 hour piece before having to turn in my work. I brought an extra frame in case I came up with something spectacular. I set up on Washington Avenue and Columbia, looking South this time, and did a street scene. The light changed, removing the shadow play that I was working on, so I decided to save this piece for later. I got some lunch then turned in my work. Went home early that day, got some rest.

Saturday is the final event and the awards presentation. We’ll have between 8 am and 2 pm to turn in a framed painting of the festival that will be going on all day long. This is supposed to be quite an event, with over 100,000 people in attendance. I can’t quite imagine that, parking is going to be a nightmare.