Earlier this month, I participated in my first plein air painting event, Paint It! Ellicott City, as an open artist. It was three entire days of painting — so exhausting, but so much fun. My parents watched the boys for me while I worked, which was wonderful.
On Saturday morning, I entered the quick draw competition sponsored by Mat About You gallery. I was a little nervous about the time limit — we had just two hours to complete a painting — and the weather, as there was a 60+ percent chance of rain. I got my watercolor block stamped, and set up in a small green space right off main street, with a view of the original Ellicott City courthouse, a little old stone building. I had time to do a thumbnail sketch in my sketchbook to plan my composition, and then the airhorn blew to begin the contest. I decided to start in watercolor, since I thought oils would take too long. At about one hour in, I switched to chalk pastels, which allowed me to add details and put in some highlights. It ended up being a gorgeous sunny day, and while the time went quickly, I was pretty happy with my painting.
At the end of two hours, it looked like this:
Here’s a link to see the Baltimore Sun’s Paint It! Photo Gallery. It gives a good feel for all the artwork that was happening, and you can even catch a photo of my hand (ha!) as I start my quick draw piece, as well as another photo that shows the old courthouse building.
Another watercolor and pastel piece that I finished during the weekend is entitled Doughnut Factory Fairytale. The view reminded me a little of a Bavarian castle postcard, except that instead of castle turrets, the old factory building gleams in the late afternoon light. (While growing up, kids called this building the doughnut factory, but I was never quite sure if that was an apocryphal tale or not… a little web research and I found that the Display Machine Doughnut Corporation did indeed occupy the building from 1924 – 1970.)
I only completed one oil painting during the weekend. When I started, I was set up on the sidewalk and had a great view; an hour later, someone parked right in front of me. (The little street was so narrow that I hadn’t realized you could park in that section.) Unfortunately that happened several times, which made completing the lower half of the painting difficult — next time I’ll know to look carefully for parking signs to figure out if a car could block my view later!
All in all, it was a great experience. I learned a lot, met some other artists, and really enjoyed getting to do all that painting!