Lessons from the Estes Valley Plein Air Quick Draw

Sunflowers, 10x8, oil on board
Sunflowers, 10×8, oil on board, © Nelia Harper

Yesterday, I went up to the Estes Valley Plein Air Quick Draw with friend and artist Andrea Gabel.

We went to cheer on Jenifer Cline and pick up some tips and watch the artists paint, and see the art show.

We wandered around, looking at easels, brushes, paint tubes, and thumbnail sketches. We said hello to many artists we knew and encouraged them.

As the start drew near, the tension in the air was almost palpable. The artists tensed, brushes at the ready. The bell rang, and I expected them all to start running. I think their hearts and adrenaline pumps did!

Being a spectator, I tried to be objective and withold judgement on the variety of starts and subject matter.

We watched the artists work as we walked back and forth from one to another, watching the paintings progress. So fascinating!

Some artists were bold, and confident. Some used their whole bodies and some chatted with the spectators.

Others hid from the crowd. They futzed and fretted, dabbing at the paint and the canvas. Closed in on themselves and furrowing their brows.

At the end of the day, when the paintings were hung, we could see where people held back, played it safe, made timid brush strokes, and worried. We could see who felt confident and self-assured.

As we chatted over lunch, dissecting the experience, a few things were clear. First, all paintings look better in a frame. Second, the bold expressive paintings that had clear composition and value range were preferred.

We both vowed to be bold(er) in our painting. More variety of thick and thin, variety in movement and brushstrokes, harmonious yet interesting color. Better to be bold and wrong than timid and futzy. How do we use this knowledge to improve? How does one become a bold painter? Confident? Expressive?

Practice was our best guess. So, today, my aim was to be bold and expressive in painting these sunflowers.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.