Sorry to say, my blog has suffered a bit from benign neglect since I left for my travels a few weeks ago. Rain and 30 mile/hr wind consumed most of our beach vacation, so while it was still beautiful, there was no chance of painting boats or coastal motifs before the Paint Annapolis competition that followed just a week later. Paint Annapolis itself was fun and enlightening, but since I am still dealing with shoulder tendinitis and pain, it was physically stressful and pretty exhausting. For the first two days, it seemed that I had brought the crappy weather I'd had at the beach right along with me up to the Annapolis event. The weather did turn beautiful during the last portion, but I think I kind of "blew myself out" trying to get something interesting down early on while the weather was gray and the light exceedingly flat.
The previous paragraph makes it sound like I didn't enjoy myself at all, but that was not the case! In fact, while I didn't come home with any prizes, I still received a lot of reward. My early struggles notwithstanding, the city of Annapolis is charming. I had a lovely host for the event, and everyone I encountered in the event organization, and even in the town at large, was warm and friendly. AND I'm delighted to say that I sold a study right from the easel! :-) I also found myself among some incredibly talented painters and it was truly inspiring to see so much fine work being produced by my contemporaries. Almost all of the artists were friendly, uplifting, and inclusive, making the atmosphere feel more like a (highly motivated) community than a competition. So much so, in fact, that by the time it was all over with, in spite of my exhaustion, I was actually sad to see it end.
"A Banner Day", Oil on linen, 12x12"
As a painter, I also I learned a lot. I learned that if it isn't happening, don't force it. I learned that if the light is truly uninteresting, you're better off sleeping in a day or two and staying up at night to paint nocturnes! I learned that in the overwhelm of an unfamiliar environment, I'd be much better off painting simple studies successfully than failing at capturing a very complicated scene. I learned that even in the anxiety of knowing you only have 3 days to paint, you really do have to pace yourself, take care of yourself, be kind to yourself, and give your mind and body enough time to rest and relax. And I learned that all of the things I thought I knew can so easily fall by the wayside in this thing called "competition".
As is usually the case with me, I learned much of this more through error than through trial. In a way, the lessons I learned at the competition are only larger-than-life versions of the lessons I learn all the time through the act of plein air painting. These paintings can be like mini thrills-of-victory or agonies-of-defeat, though often they fall somewhere in between. Much is made of the victories (and with good reason) but for the painter who is fortunate enough to recognize it, they all hold value. The value lies in what you take away from it.
p.s. The painting posted was painted during the sunny portion of the event. It's from the quick draw called "Dueling Brushes". Please contact me for purchase inquiries. I posted about this event also last year and you can read my account here.