Since I lost my word press app on my ipad, techno-dummy that I am, there's no posting on the road. Every time I come back from somewhere, it's catch-up time on the bloggity. So any-ol-hoo, I somehow signed myself up for two events back to back, something I could handle a little better when I was younger but now.... not so much. Both events are proven sellers, Easton has become the number one plein air event in the country for sales (this years sales were at 325 K) but has also become one of the hottest with a mean (and I do mean mean) heat index around 100 to 105 in the last 3 events. Even though I'm in Florida and can handle heat, I don't typically spend 12 hours a day in stupid-hot painting on my feet. So, not sure I'll go back unless I get younger between now and the next event. I didn't feel I was painting my best, perhaps because of the sub-tropical temps and wet blanket humidity or because I just have a tendency to psych myself out. Though I did get a couple of decent paintings, half way through the event I was ready to throw in the damp towel. The very first day I was feeling the effects of heat stroke while painting on the beach at Rehoboth but I don't feel so bad about it because one of the artists, a fit, young 50 year old keeled over after setting up on a hot sidewalk. He's ok. I was happy with this one, my kind of scene, and the awards judge (Don Demers) saw fit to give it an honorable mention.  It has that degree of difficulty that I like, with the combination of compound curves in extreme perspective and crazy pattern. These kind of compositions are much more interesting to me than the typical bucolic farm scene, perhaps because there are so many elements, angles and patterns to use or not.

And then there was this crazy gem of a place which was listed in our packet as a place to paint. It was an abandoned dry cleaner which has been slated for an overhaul. It's a creepy, ghosty, musty, decrepit, neglected old building which looks as if all the inhabitants were vaporized leaving only the remnant bits of their existence and a lot of dust. Racks and racks of old clothes hanging amidst decay. I wondered how it was the clothes lasted so well but the surfaces of the walls did not, must be the Rayon-polyester blends. The broken windows, lined with messed up louvered blinds made for a really interesting light pattern on the floor and the colorful light and clothing patterns were a nice contrast to the grays and browns of the far shadows. Again, my kind of a scene.

This piece was about 10 steps from the clothes painting. A really odd little scene of extinguishers, wall patterns and couch. Enough artists had been in this building to look and or paint that one of them (not sayin' who) had said "That couch was not there!", which was true, it was about 15 feet to the right and I slid it in place. It was just sort of amusing that anyone would care. No matter. I liked this one as well. Not really a happy seller but fun for me and, really, we need to go after the things that make us excited. This place did it for me.

While I did several "pretty" scenes with flowers and unicorns and young girls in hats carrying baskets of puppies, I actually prefer the grittier stuff. Like this nocturne, a growing genre because the light doesn't change, and typically the temps are cooler (not) and there's no one to bug you unless you have crack to sell. There's a bit of rawness to this one that I like, mostly on account of my I'm-sweating-at- 1-in-the-a.m.-WTF? attitude, I did not go for the big finish. Just the quick little happy finish, not too much info, just enough. Also aided by the fact that the overhead street lights made for a tough read on color so the final outcome was a surprise the next day. Did I sell it? Nope, I did not. But I like it.

The first is last and Oh, for an Eidetic memory.

This first painting of the week, a 15"x30", was a toughie for me. Eric Bowman, Hai-ou Hou and myself arrived at Rehoboth beach on Sunday, the one day you could paint anywhere you like. We arrived at tourist destination number one along with at least 20,000 summer sun seekers. It was completely crazy, I've never seen anything like it. 4 bozillion oily people cramming a tiny beach like elephant seals during mating season. Each of us found about 5 square feet of sand to set up on before the full force of the invasion hit.

When we first pulled up to scope a location it was about 9 am. The sun was surprisingly high yet veiled by a marine layer caused undoubtedly by the convergence of super hot, wet air and cold ocean waters. The horizon did not exist and the air was thick with water particles. When I walked into the middle of this seal beach landing, I saw a scene that I knew I had to attempt, a beach scene that Sorolla himself would have gone after in 2 shakes. I can still see it in my head but somehow by the time I got set up, it was different. I don't normally do a lot of paintings with people in them unless they are paid to sit still and there was not enough money in Fort Knox to pay off this crowd, so I had to make do. Somewhere in the true artist is the ability to see a thing, keep it in mind, take from what's there and make it into a painting without chasing after what is in front of the eye. I left mine at home. There were times when it got so crowded, I could not see the water. I'm not kidding. Who in their right brain would do this for fun and or recreation. It was all an exercise in futility or a good lesson to practice this kind of thing more before attempting it for a show.

Next up, Peninsula Schooled.

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