Cedarburg Plein Air Painting Competition – Day Seven: Main Event

Posted on June 22, 2011 in Blog Post, News, Plein Air Painting

What a long day. Another late start, I arrived in Cedarburg just in time for the Artist luncheon and workshop by Bonita Budysz, one of the jurors in this year’s event. I stayed for the first half hour of the demonstration, but soon had to leave. (How can I be politic about this…) I have found that I have to severely limit the amount of time I spend looking at artwork and artists who possess characteristics that I am rigidly trying to eliminate from my own painting. The workshop started very slowly, a bit more talkative than was necessary, but I chalk that up to nerves. It takes a lot to get in front a group of your peers, and talk to them about your process, while painting. Props to Bonita (please don’t jury me harshly).

In looking for a new place to paint, I decided that rather than return to the tight rendering I started two days ago, I would look for a subject matter that would play to my strengths. Something with trees, or a natural landscape. Something that would offer an opportunity to showcase some brushwork. At any rate, I ended up back on Granville Road/County Y, the Western-most boundary for this event, facing West (which was allowed by the rules, I checked). I found an orchard of trees, planted in rows. These were tall trees with olive green leaves and rows upon rows leading back to an emerald green field of long grass. I had to capture this.

Not five minutes after setting up, it began to rain. I almost left altogether to return to my tight rendering of the bar in downtown Cedarburg. Luckily I decided to wait out the drizzle. 15 minutes later I was able to set up again and cement my vision for this painting. Damn glad I stayed, this one has me really exited. “Etude in Green and Cobalt Violet,” 11″ x 14″ oil on panel. The way the cobalt violet plays off the viridian is really amazing.

This is a work in progress. I plan to go back tomorrow to finish painting the foreground trees, developing their dimensionality and texture, to separate them from the background. I wrapped up this piece just in the nick of time, as the next line of storm clouds were rolling in, thunder like giants stomping on the ground in the distance. As I headed back into town, the deluge began, dousing the countryside in rain and fog. The sky was very dark.

I decided to get some food, and met up with painter Brian Sindler at a Chinese restaurant south of downtown. We had a great conversation about art and politics. Afterward, I tried heading back out, but it quickly became apparent that my truck was having a very serious problem with my brakes. Grinding noises when I stopped and a scraping noise when I drove. I decided to call it early and head back to Milwaukee in time to get new pads and rotors before the stores closed. My brother Steve was gracious and patient enough to help me with them. There are still problems with the alignment and some steerage issues, but at least I’m not doing damage when I stop. Another $220 down the drain, and I still need to have the alignment fixed.

Needless to say, it’s been a long, long stressful day. The worst part was to find out about Ron Bitticks’ passing when I got home. I wish we could have one more discussion about the work that I’m doing now. I will miss his guidance.

Tomorrow I am planning to finish working on the piece above, and go back to the tight rendering of the bar. Maybe one more loose painting as well.