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Thursday, July 19, 2012

How the Yamhill Lavender Festival Changed My Life

I started participating in the Lavender Festival Plein Air Art Show in 2008.  I had been plein air painting for several years,and no one but my painting buddies and family ever saw anything I did.  When I read a flyer for the festival plein air paint out and show, I knew it was something I wanted to do.  For a small fee I'd have access to about twenty five lavender farms for the two week period before the art show.  My friend Mary and I dared each other to enter at least one painting into the show.  I had never framed any of my paintings before.  

I furiously painted during the two weeks.  I think I visited about ten farms that first year, and had a terrible time framing the one painting that I entered into the show, but I did it.  It was scary and exciting to put my work out there.  My painting hung for the two day show, and then I brought it home. 
A Wild Debut 20x20 pastel
2008 Yamhill Lavender Festival entry
The following February I got a phone call that my painting from the lavender festival had been chosen for the poster and catalog promoting the festival for 2009.    I didn't even know that was a possibility.  I was so honored.  I had to provide an artist's statement and photo for the catalog, so I learned how to put one of those together.  It took me a whole afternoon of agonizing to put two paragraphs together.    That summer, I felt like a minor celebrity when a lavender farm owner recognized me from the catalog and insisted that she must introduce me to her employees and customers.  She thanked me profusely for coming to her farm to paint and kept my complimentary glass of lemonade full while I was there.  

In 2009, after the two day art show in Yamhill, the remaining unsold artwork was split up between several galleries in McMinnville and Newberg and displayed through August.  This was an amazing opportunity for artists like me who were completely inexperienced and had never dreamed of being in a gallery.  I received an honorable mention that year from the festival, plus sold several paintings at the festival and at the gallery.   I was painting because I loved it, but the recognition and sales made me even more determined to become a better painter, improve my skills, and make marketing my paintings a reality instead of a daydream.

In the years since, I've continued to look forward every year to the Lavender Festival.  I have a special feeling for Wild Rain farm in Yamhill, the site of my first year's painting, and make a point to go back there every year to paint.  I spent four glorious days painting there this year.   I don't know what it is, but there is something that just feels right when I'm there and it makes me so happy to be there and to paint there with Laura and her cats and dogs and lavender and the droning of the bees.  It's like being inside of a wonderful summer poem.

I am so honored to have won this year's first place award for my painting  Wild Dreams, which I painted at Wild Rain Farm as part of this year's festival.  I am especially proud because it was painted with love at a place I hold so dear.  

I was able to go back for one more visit on Monday of this week, and got two paintings in.  The lavender is scheduled to be harvested tomorrow, and the poppies will be tilled under.  I'm already looking forward to next summer.
Wild Dreams   12x12 pastel  sold

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