Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Winning When You Don't Expect To

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Socorro is a town that runs North/South along the I25 and Rio Grande corridor. It has the New Mexico School of Mines and is an old town in the state. Most people know it only by the fact that they run through it, getting gas and maybe stopping to pick up a few sundries.

This past weekend, many artists, (me and my friend Gay Scheibl included) converged on this lovely place, with the intent to paint for three days and compete in a plein air competition. There were artists whose name I had become familiar as I have been a member of PAPNM for a while now, never having been able to make a paintout for numerous reasons. I knew their work, not them. So this past weekend I got a chance to meet them and share experiences. What a blast. What lovely work they produced. Amazing stuff, all painted in the rain, or under threatening clouds, spiced only with the occasional break in the cloud cover and a sudden burst of sunlight. No wusses here! Those bursts were to die for. The sun had a brightness, when surrounded by the weather, that I cannot forget. I stared at those islands of light, committing them to memory and wanting to paint that dazzling color and light – not the ominous clouds.

Rushing water on the second day made the canyons not so safe, so Gay and I painted in the town center, in a lovely park, with old buildings. Some dated from the 1800s, with hand hewn log ceilings, herringbone brick floors that undulated as you walked over them, and gorgeous overhanging portals. Again, the light was dazzling, if fleeting. We had a tour from a beautiful lady named Marguerite, and got to know Socorro better than the scurrying tourists.

A Break in the Clouds
Oil on board 11x14
First Place Winner in the Three Day PAPM competition

I marveled at the variety in the pieces produced, and at those we painted in the quick draw on Saturday morning. It was my first quick draw event, and the first plein air competition I painted in, with the intent to compete. Pressure! I didn’t even think about it or never would have painted such a geometrically complex piece. I forced myself to paint buildings, something I never would have tried before the LaRock workshop last month. But I did get it done by the whistle blow! Waid Griffin won first in the quick draw. His piece was beautiful and felt wet.

"Box Canyon - A Moment of Light"
Painted during PAPNM - Socorro NM
11x14 Oil on Board

The three day paintout ended with a show at Vertu Gallery, an enchanting gallery, just off the town square. I showed 2 paintings, one a view of the color and light in the town square as the cloud cover broke, and one of Box Canyon, just up the 60, from Socorro. When the awards for the three day event were announced, I was absolutely shocked to have won first. It looked like I was on a different planet than the rest of the painters, mine was so bright. I am thankful and wonder what the judging committee put in their tea that morning, but I am not complaining!

My First Quick Draw - Socorro Abstract Building
8x20 Oil on Board
Thanks to all the other artists for their gracious acceptance of two unknown painters in their midst. PAPNM rocks!  And not least of all, thanks to Karyn and Dave Debont without whom it would never have taken place. Socorro County, the owners of Vertu Gallery - Prescott and Georgette, the Debonts and even the city groundskeepers  made us all feel really welcome. Thank you.

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