Dueling Brushes

After having what I felt to be a successful morning on my 2nd day in Annapolis, it was my expectation to have as wonderful an afternoon. NOT! There are times when I have to push myself to paint, even if I don't feel like it. This is usually a good idea, but not always. Sometimes giving yourself a chance to "recharge" is the best thing you can possibly do for your work, and this was one of those times. Once I finished "Daybreak", I decided to take a "lunch break" and get out of the midday sun to check out some of the local Annapolis galleries. My plan was then to find some charming street corner where I might set up in town. There was plenty of material to choose from, to be sure. So even though I was pretty tired, I set up in a quiet spot to paint a pretty B&B surrounded by flowers. 

The thing that attracted me to the spotthough, was the pattern of the light, which was steady and strong in constrast and formed an interesting pattern of interconnecting diagonals....At least when I first started. But soon a heavy cloud cover set in.....and lifted....and set in again. By the time the clouds had cleared for good, the pattern of light had completely changed and I finally found myself scrapping the whole painting in frustration.

By the time I had gotten back to the hotel, it was late and I was even more tired. I had actually scheduled myself to compete in a little quick-draw competition called "Dueling Brushes", on the next (and final) morning. But before I went to bed, I called my husband and told him I was considering skipping the event and just coming on home. "Come home if that's what you want," he said, "Nobody's making you do this."

He was right, of course. But I guess the night's rest was restorative, because the next morning I figured, what the heck? I'd go ahead with it. After all, I'd registered for the event, I was in town, and I'd spent a couple of days painting this subject matter so at least I'd had a little preparation. Plus I'd already been through the "agony of defeat" and I was still standing ;-)

The event rules stated that we all had two hours to create a finished painting, after which time we were to scurry our paintings and easels over to the judging area. The judge would then award cash prizes and we'd have a little exhibition in the public square.

To make things easy on myself I decided to set up to paint the open harbor that was pretty close to the judging area. There were surely other interesting spots in town I could have scouted out, but I just couldn't see myself running through town like a maniac with my easel trying to make it in time for the judging.  

From the position I chose along the open harbor, the boats in the scene were pretty far out into the middle ground. It was looking like I might be stuck with a rather placid composition on an overcast day with no foreground interest. But the clock had started andthere were some subtle shimmering light patterns on the water that I thought maybe I could make something out of.  So I settled on a design in my head, set up all of my gear, and began my composition--just in time for a huge tourist boat to pull up and park right in front of my view. ARRRRGH!

I moved all of my gear as quickly as I could to a nearby spot. The view was a little different, but I recovered fairly quickly with a revised plan and got to work. Then I lucked out. What started out as an overcast morning with flat light soon began to give way to breaking clouds backlit by the morning sun.  I had found my interest (and actually, the sky I had painted on the previous morning served me well in this moment.) I quickly changed my plan again and lowered the horizon--this was going to be a painting about the sky.  

  "Changing Sky" Oil on Multimedia Artboard, 8x12"

"Changing Sky" Oil on Multimedia Artboard, 8x12"

To my surprise and delight, I really began to have fun. And when it came time for the judging, I was surprised and delighted again. The painting received "Honorable Mention," which seemed a pretty good accomplishment for a newcomer to these events, especially considering I was thinking about skipping the whole thing!