Door County 2011 – Part 3

July 28, 2011

Plein Air July 23 - Windswept Day; Oil on Canvas Panel 11" x 14"

We awoke Saturday to overcast skies and a weather forecast of a cloudy morning with possible thunderstorms for the afternoon. Although the Dockside Paint Out sponsored by The Peninsula School of Art would not start until 9:00 am, we aimed to be at Clark Park in Fish Creek around 7:15 am-ish. This would be our best chance to lay claim to “a good spot” from which to paint. By the time we arrived, a fair number of artists were already in position and awaiting the start of the competition.

We made our way to a spot which I thought would work. It had a good view of my subject and would offer a little bit of shade in the event that the sun broke through the clouds. Although the spot was available, I sensed potential problems. Immediately in front of me was a set up for a “Kids Paint” family activity. I anticipated that between the kids, the paint instructors, the parents, grandparents, etc., this spot might have too much interference. I moved around and found another spot and subject matter that I thought would work.

While waiting for the competition to begin, I set up my gear and did a few drawings in my sketchbook. At 9:00am the starters horn sounded and we began our paintings. About fifteen minutes into my work, the sun was beginning to break through the clouds. Bright sunshine on the canvas is a bit blinding and makes it difficult to properly judge colors and values. About twenty minutes into the competition, I had a feeling that my design was not going to work as I had envisioned. If not for the competition and time limit, I would have wiped out the painting, found a new spot and started over. However, not a lot that I could do at this point except to go with the flow and make the best of it.

By now, the sun was out and the clouds were moving away. Seems that the weather forecasters missed this one. With the sun and clearing skies came wind. A lot of wind. Gusts of wind. The sailboats, my subjects, were constantly on the move. My canvas panel was moving. The palette extensions of my set up would routinely blow over onto my palette.  I almost lost my hat and a brush to the wind. Murphys’ Law prevailed. The gusts intensified every time that I needed to be steady for details. Most likely a very good morning to fly a kite.

Post contest evaluation. I was not elated with my results. It was a nice painting and passers-by mentioned that they liked the sky and felt that I captured the feel of the choppy waters that morning. I failed most by not sticking to my strengths. Sailboats and bays are fun to paint, but not at a competition when I lack the necessary experience. I do not get much practice at those subjects around here. I hope to participate in the 2012 Dockside Paint Out and will plan to work with subject matter ashore that plays to my strengths – sunlight, shadows, trees, and buildings.

Piles of paint and miles of canvas before next year.

Boats moored off the pier at Fish Creek

Working at the Dockside Paint Out

Working in between wind gusts

Framed and ready to install for judging.

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