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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2013

All I Ever Wanted  6x6  plein air pastel  N Equall

This past month has been bananas!  Like the rest of my crazy life, everything happens at once, and September has been no exception.  I participated in three plein air competitions,  had 15 paintings in two group shows, and have been preparing for the Fall Home and Garden Show at the expo here in Portland, OR which will set up Oct 2.

May Days  6x6  plein air pastel  N Equall

At the end of August,  I went to the Columbia River gorge to participate in Northwest Plein Air 2013, a juried plein air event put on by the Columbia Art Gallery in Hood River, OR.  A juried event is one where the artists submit an application with examples of their work and the organizers choose who they want to participate, in this case 35 artists.  This was my third year participating in this event.   I rented a great one room cabin in White Salmon, WA using  It was just across the Columbia river from Hood River,and served as a peaceful home base during the five day paintout.  For this event, each artist could submit up to five paintings at the end of the five days of painting, all done in plein air, meaning they were all painted outdoors in the open air, and had to be painted within the past year.  
Fluorescence  11x14 plein air pastel
I was a bit nervous about the weather.  It had been stormy during the week before the event, and the hard rain actually woke me up the night before the event started.  I was pleasantly surprised on the first day when the alarm went off at 6 and the sky was bright pink with no clouds in sight.  It ended up being hot and sunny during the days of the paintout.  I brought two finished plein air paintings with me, one painted in May across the gully from the Tom McCall Nature area in Rowena, and one painted at Wild Rain Lavender Farm in Yamhill.  I painted and framed three new paintings during the paintout- two painted at The Gorge White House, and one painting of the view looking east down the gorge from the AniChe Winery in Underwood, WA.

Painting is normally a solitary endeavor, although I do attend a weekly open studio at Oregon Society of Artists, and oftentimes paint outdoors with another artist or two.  Attending plein air competitions is the complete opposite- lots of people painting similar subjects in the same real estate.  I love getting to know the other artists, but it can really mess with my mind to see other artists doing spectacular things when I either haven't started, don't have a clue as what I'm going to do, or don't like what is happening on my easel.

Inevitable  11x14  plein air pastel  
Then there is the problem of where to paint.  The gorge and surrounding areas are stunning, but deciding exactly where to paint can be a real problem.   The organizers had suggested painting locations every day, and they were all terrific.  I have to find some type of connection, inspiration or emotion with the landscape if I hope to come up with a painting that pleases me.  That little piece of the puzzle can be elusive. It's always such a relief when an idea for a painting  floats up to the surface like the answer on a Crazy 8 ball.

 I struggled a bit, but finally came up with three paintings that I wasn't embarrassed to let people see.   I spent my last day at a nice quiet park with a boat launch on the Washington side of the river where I touched up and framed my finished paintings.  I really wished I had found that park earlier in the weekend, because it had a beautiful brushy wetland area with the gorge as its backdrop.  Next year.  

The Sunny Side   12x12 plein air pastel
As Labor Day weekend came to a close, I turned my paintings and cabin keys in a day early, and drove back to Portland to spend an extra night at home to do laundry, regroup and repack the car before driving to Roseburg, OR to participate in Umpqua Plein Air 2013.  

The Plein Air Northwest show at the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River, OR will be up thru September 29.  

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