Posts Tagged ‘Shorewood Plein Air Event’


2114 Kensington

October 23, 2014
2114 Kensington; Oil on Canvas Panel 14" x 11"

2114 Kensington; Oil on Canvas Panel 14″ x 11″

Prior to the start of the Shorewood Plein Air event, I reviewed the events website and noted a few addresses that might be interested in purchasing  a portrait of their homes or stores.

Wednesday, after completing my first painting of the flower box and meeting my host family, I toured the town to check out the prospective portrait homes. The first home was so-so followed by a house on Kensington. I looked at it, thought it might have that “something” but I just could not see it. I moved on to check out the other homes.

Thursday morning I checked in at the event headquarters and overheard the women discussing the previous days activities. I heard mention that the owner of the Kensington home was concerned that no one had been by to paint their house. I ventured back there. It was overcast and rain threatened. Try as I might, I could not figure out how to make this a suitable portrait and competition worthy work of art. I did however catch interest in the porch of a nearby home.

The porch painting was okay. Interesting comments from passers-by as well as the owner of the home. Unfortunately, I was within eyesight of the owner at the Kensington home. Thursday evening, I caught an comment that the owner at Kensington was a bit saddened that no one had yet worked on a portrait of her home.

Friday morning. At headquarters, I again noticed the reference to the Kensington home. I had plans to go to a site on the east side of town, but decided to take one last pass by the Kensington home. Glad that I did. Strong, bright sunlight caused the trim work around the doorway to jump out and grab my attention. In working the composition, I decided that to include the whole house would not work. I felt that focusing in on the feature that grabbed me, the doorway, was the way to go.

I set up and got right to work. About 30 minutes into the painting, I heard a noise from the house. The owner was on her way over. Seemed excited that someone was finally painting her home. The woman asked if she could see the work in progress to which I consented. Her comments were “oh.”, “oh?” “Oh?”, and “OH!!!”. A whole range of emotions. It was clear to me that while the owner had expected to see a painting which included her entire home, she realized that cropping the scene the way I did, created a very interesting take on her home.

The painting took longer than I had anticipated as the details around the door proved to be more intricate and critical than I had estimated. As I finished, I sent a photo to the headquarters. The response let me know that they were very happy that someone did the Kensington home.

Happy to report that Saturday morning at the preview event, the owner of this home was one of the first people to enter the exhibit, made a beeline for her home portrait and promptly purchased the painting.



October 13, 2014
Collectivo; Oil on Canvas Panel 9" x 12"

Collectivo; Oil on Canvas Panel 9″ x 12″

Paining on Thursday in Shorewood was an interesting day. The day was overcast. Much of my work benefits from the play of strong shadows. The paintings created Thursday morning and afternoon were okay, but  not “competition” worthy.

Thursday also included an event for the evening. The committee sponsored a quick paint event. We had the luxury of four hours to paint a scene along the main commercial strips of town. I settled on the establishment called Collectivo.

This one was a struggle from the start. I had prepped the canvas with a coat of Gesso and a touch of Plaster of Paris.  The idea was to create a canvas that was not slick. Unfortunately I utilized too much Plaster of Paris. This surface was sucking up all my paint too quickly.  I also made the mistake of setting this work up to capture the evening lights from the establishment. About the time I finally had my image blocked in, I realized that my deadline would be up before the lights were in full array.  I needed to change my lighting strategy.

I made the necessary changes (still fighting with the canvas surface) and worked to refine the drawing.  While painting, I had the opportunity to visit with a lot of the locals. This strip was hoping. Again, the committee did a great job of getting word out to the community. Had a great, though tiring time painting. Should have included some figures to give the scene some life but ran out of time. Oh well.

After the painting was turned in, I found out that this bistro was started by the sons of my host family. My host family was interested in the painting. Since the work did not sell at Saturday evenings sale, I gave the painting to my host family as a thank you for their hospitality during my stay in Shorewood.


3955 Stowell

October 12, 2014
3955 Stowell; Oil on Canvas Panel 9" x 12"

3955 Stowell; Oil on Canvas Panel 9″ x 12″

I received an invitation to compete in the Shorewood Plein Air Festival. Shorewood is a small community at the north end of Milwaukee Wisconsin. I enjoyed the experience last year and felt very privileged to have another opportunity to paint in this area.

I arrived at the headquarters around 9:00am, signed in, received my information packet and got my canvases stamped for the competition. While there, I decided to pick the brains of the women volunteers. I was interested in looking at some of the historic homes for my subject matter. I was directed towards Stowell Avenue on the east end of town. As I traveled the street, I found loads of potential subject matter. I decided to get a quick little painting done before lunchtime. This flower box caught my eye.

While painting, I was visited by several passers-by. They all knew about the event and expressed their gratitude that so many artists were in their town. The Plein Air committee really did the job of getting word out in the community.

Great to begin a three day competition with a good start.


Reflections at Pierce

October 18, 2013
Reflections at Pierce; Plein Air - Oil on Canvas Panel 8" x 10"

Reflections at Pierce; Plein Air – Oil on Canvas Panel 8″ x 10″

Just back from the Shorewood Plein Air event.  Took a day to set up a display of my plein air paintings for an upcoming open house event then back out to paint before the weather changes.

Colors just starting to change. Ended up at Rock Cut and the east end of Pierce Lake. I used this spot for a painting a few weeks earlier but decided to alter the format and cropping to change the design. I will be using this as a guide for a larger studio work.


Florals on Frederick

October 7, 2013
Florals on Frederick; Oil on Canvas Panel 8" x 10"

Florals on Frederick; Oil on Canvas Panel 8″ x 10″

The Shorewood Plein Air Event competition paintings were turned in late Friday afternoon. The attention now focused on the Saturday morning “Quick Paint’ competition. Artists have 2-1/2 hours to set up, paint, frame and then turn in their work.

After a very satisfying breakfast at a nearby restaurant, I strolled the neighborhood around the Shorewood library to search for possibilities. As I surveyed designs, I eliminated choices due to various reasons – not interesting, too complicated, no shade for me, no sunlight for my subject, and a few other excuses. I was running out of real estate, when an idea came to me. I noticed a house with a hanging basket of flowers on their porch. Although shaded, I anticipated interesting results when/if the sunlight hit these flowers. I used my viewfinder and sketchbook to make some thumbnail sketches to help determine the most suitable design. The first sketch was too broad and would include too many non-essential details and design obstructions. Keep it simple. The second sketch was too narrow in focus and would not include enough elements to be of interest.  Keep it simple. The third sketch worked for me.

Back to the car, I primed my canvas with some Alizaron Crimson and laid out fresh paints onto my palette. After checking in to have my canvas stamped and having my time registered, I hurried with my gear to the spot. I was set up on a sidewalk, under the shade of a couple large trees and had an unobstructed view across the street to my subject. I quickly sketched in my design and was just starting my painting, when a woman came out of the subject house to see if I was painting her home. The woman was excited. That helped to boost my confidence. A short while later a man strolled out of the house, meandered around and eventually looked in on my painting. I noticed the couple leave their house and make their way over to the Shorewood library to view the competition paintings. The couple came from the library with friends in tow to view my work of their home. They were excited. Pressure. I hope that this turns out well.

I was feeling confident though. About forty minutes into the painting, I was very happy with the progress.  My initial brushstrokes and paint applications were very helpful. Economy of effort. I was able to work carefully without feeling rushed. Very comfortable. I finished, gathered my gear, headed back to my car where I photoed and framed my painting and turned in my work with about fifteen minutes to spare.

That night at the awards ceremony my work was honored with The Community Spirit Award. At the sale/auction, the homeowners put a minimum bid on the work. Another couple jumped the bid and was willing to pay more than my usual price for this size work. The homeowners jumped that bid. I was pulling for the homeowners to acquire the painting. Unfortunately for these folks, in the last moments before the bidding was closed, someone jumped their bid to purchase the work at a very flattering price. Double award as far as I am concerned.

I felt sorrow for the homeowners. I would have been honored to have this nice couple own my work. I can imagine their disappointment. I offered the idea of taking on their home next year, but understandably, the woman feels that it just won’t be the same. She may be right. It might be better! Now there’s pressure.


Sunspots in Shorewood

October 6, 2013
Sunspots in Shorewood; Plein Air - Oil on Canvas Panel 11" x 14"

Sunspots in Shorewood; Plein Air – Oil on Canvas Panel 11″ x 14″

Friday morning. Rain threatening. After attending a breakfast in Atwater Park, I was ready to get painting, but I decided to stop by the artists headquarters to see if there were any businesses or homes which had yet to be painted. The volunteers, mentioned a conversation from the night before and there was a homeowner who expressed interest in having a portrait of his home. I did not have a strong desire to do another house portrait, but figured that I would check out the place.

The sky was dark and it was raining as I surveyed the home. It took about twenty minutes of moving around in the rain, looking for possibilities before an idea hit me. I determined that if the sunlight were to come out, it might illuminate the home in dramatic fashion.

It was raining as I started painting the scene. Although the rain abated, it remained very dark. About an hour into the painting, the sun made an attempt to peek through the clouds, but only enough to give me guidance on the tree foliage, then it was dark again. By the time I was ready to finish, I was on my own to imagine the effects of the sun on this scene. I was happy with the results and entered this work into the competition.

A bit disappointed at the Saturday night gala and sale. The owners of the home seemed to love the painting, but felt that the price was a bit out of their price range. The man indicated that they really wanted to own own the painting, but wanted to do some hard negotiating, then quickly threw out a comment about his budget concerns. I attempted to offer him a few ideas to help fit this painting into his budget and help him realize value in the work, but it was clear to me that unless he would be able to boast about chiseling me down, he would not buy. Interesting. He even knew that the sponsoring association would receive a commission for any works sold that evening. He offered the idea that if we met in the parking lot following the evenings activities, he could purchase the work at my wholesale (read – discounted) price and not have to give the association their commission. Not fair to me and not fair to the association and not fair to the town. Lesson learned. I should have approached the homeowner first before painting.

After viewing the work back at my home studio, I decided to make a few, minor adjustments to help the house “pop” a little more. I also decide to alter the name from the owners address to a more generic title. I let the association know about the changes as they are attempting to sell the remaining works from the competition. I also intend to utilize this painting to help promote my work at some upcoming shows.


Falls at Estabrook

October 3, 2013
Falls at Estabrook; Oil on Canvas Panel 11" x 14"

Falls at Estabrook; Oil on Canvas Panel 11″ x 14″

I participated in the Shorewood Plein Air Festival. It is a charming community at the north end of Milwaukee.

I arrived in the area on Wednesday evening and checked in early Thursday morning to get my canvases stamped (to verify that the paintings turned in were painted during this event). The sky was dark. Rain was immanent. I decided to take a drive around the community to scope out possibilities. The rain began. After touring the town, I made my way to one of the tree lined streets and found a scene that appealed to me. A homeowner indicated interest in having a house portrait created.

Because of the rain, I did not create any preliminary sketches. Mistake.  I spent the first hour and a half holding an umbrella in my left hand while painting with my right. My left arm ached. Wind added difficulty. The constant changes in lighting made my task a chore. I worked at it hoping that I could pull it together. The rain would stop and then start up again. As miserable as this work was going, something nice happened. At one point, a woman backed out of her driveway, rolled down her window to inquire if I would still be here for another twenty minutes or so. I said that I would be. Later, the woman returned and came over with her two young daughters to see the mess, er, I mean the work which I was creating. Better yet, about forty minutes later, the woman came back to deliver a couple fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Very unexpected. Very delicious.

By the time I was finishing this painting, the rain had stopped, the sun was out and my painting was confused. I lost the initial vision.  I decided to stop and examine the painting later to see what could be done to save the work.

I took a break for lunch and made my way over to a park on the west end of town. Found a few other artists painting at the falls. I made my way down the stone stairs, and eased along the trail to examine the possibilities. It was getting warm and humid. I found a spot a couple hundred yards down the river, away from the other artists. I went back up to the parking lot to gather my gear. I returned to my spot and realized that in my haste, I grabbed an unstamped canvas. If I wanted to submit the painting to the competition, it had to be stamped. Not wanting to leave my gear unattended, I grabbed all of my gear and traveled back up to the parking lot, retrieved a stamped canvas and headed back to my spot. Lost about fifteen minutes and was now drenched with sweat.

I set up and got right to work. Wasn’t certain how I would handle the falls and the foreground foam, but I trusted that the solution would come to me while I worked the painting. About half way through  the painting, a young man approached. The fellow is with the association sponsoring the event and was filming a video blog of the artists. We spoke for awhile as he filmed. Flattered to say that part of our discussion made its way into the blog. I continued painting and the solution to the falls and foam came to me.  Took about 2-12 hours and two bottles of water to complete the painting.  Finished, I grabbed my gear, headed back to the car and then off to attend a dinner for the artists.