One again I participated in the Opus Outdoor Painting Challenge in Langley. I arrived at about 9:30 and there was already a line up to get your 8×10″ canvas and be officially counted.
For some an 8×10″ canvas is a good size and was actually the size I started painting on, but now after working much larger, 8×10″ seems so small, postage stamp size almost. I understand the rational to provide the 8×10″ size, but for next year I hope they can bump it up to at least an 11×14″ canvas.
I had previously scouted out my area before so I wasn’t in a rush to get out the door and explore. As I left Opus, I chatted with a few artists I knew, then walked to my car to gather my gear. From there I took a two minute walk across the street to the Langley library, on the corner of Douglas Crescent and 204th, to my subject for the day, a sculpture of two men portaging with a canoe. I was lucky to have a large flower pot next to me for my umbrella to stick into and keep my work area dry. Below was my setup for the day.
I usually try to paint a plein air piece in an hour or so, but since it was a cloudy day with light rain and I didn’t have to worry about chasing the light or watching any shadows change, I decided to take my time. At about 45 minutes in you can see the stage I was at.
Just after I took this picture a group of young adults came by and politely asked if I would mind if they smoked some weed in the alcove I was painting in. Who says the younger generation isn’t polite? :) I said, “Sure, no problem.” and continued to paint. You just never know what is going to happen when you’re painting outside.
One thing about cloudy days is it is brighter than you think. Although I was focused on the sculpture, I was adding my own background to the painting as the urban scene didn’t interest me. I filled the background in with a stream, a row of rocks with trees further back. Outside, the contrast between the subject and the background seemed decent enough and I called it quits about two hours in. Seeing the piece hanging in the store however, the values looked too close for comfort and everything melded into each other. Lesson number one learned… Push the values.
After dropping off my painting at Opus, I went down to Sendall Gardens where my friend Denise Maxwell was just finishing up painting. We walked into the park and came across a large cache of artist painting. One group was very prepared and brought a large tent with them. Very smart. Another was tucked underneath an arbour, one nested into a forest of trees and some others tucked under the boughs of a cedar.
The story that emerged was hearing of one lady who was painting in water soluble oils and was devastated when the rain started to wash away her painting. When Denise and I had reached the far corner of the garden she was setting up a second time, ready to repaint what she had. However, all the artists in the immediate area thought the piece she originally painted, with the drips and water spots, had turned out very well and that she should enter it the way it was. As you can see below it was a nice piece that captured the mood and weather of the day. As we were leaving for a late lunch, we hoped she would enter the piece she had.
Returning to Opus at about 3:45 all the pieces were hung up and on display. Talking with the staff, there were over 100 artists preregistered, 85 signed in at the beginning of the day, with only 65 paintings returned. One being the painting that was soaked.
The kids paintings were whimsical, cute and brought a smile to my face. The pieces ranged from elegant to impressionistic with some being in a class of their own. Below are the 65 entries to Langley store.
1st: Kim Stepney
2nd: Kendra Yoshizawa
3rd: Rosie Fyfe
Honourable Mention: Shane Molina (last year’s 1st place in Langley), Bryan Coombes (last year’s 2nd place in Langley)
The third place winner was the lady from the park with the washed out painting. That just made a great end to a long day. Congratulations!!
That is lesson number two of the day… Be objective of your work and don’t get invested when painting outdoors, you might just end up with a winner.
Kudos to Opus for organizing another Outdoor Challenge and I hope to be participating again next year.