Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Burlington Plein Air 15

Its a taken a few days for the dust to settle around here so that I could do a nice wrap-up of the Burlington Plein Air 15 and my participation in it along with my Philadelphia Plein Air friends.
                                      Here I am with my paintings entered for the judging

One of the nice things about this years event was the three weeks we were given to come and go and execute our paintings in the city of Burlington, NJ. This was great as it allowed me to fit the painting days into my schedule with work as well as carpool with Alina and Will and co-ordinate with Charles to do both day and night painting.
Alina and I were set up at the corner of Union which had a steady crowd of lottery buyers who kept parking and blocking our view off and on.

This years event was hosted by 28 East Gallery and its owner Melanie Pease and was limited to 30 artists and you were limited to entering three pieces each, but you could do as many paintings as you wanted. There were a lot of prizes available from the city, the Lyceum, Dick Blick, Jerry's and more. The judge even handed out several extra Honorable Mentions.

The weather overall was great for the times I was able to get out to paint and even if it was a bit warm, it was still nice and I was always able to find a shady spot for the most part but sometimes had to call it a day when the sun started hitting me in the face.

My pochade box was a dream to work with and its the best money I have spent as a painter on an easel, it made painting on location so much easier compared to lugging my old and heavy French easel about with its gangley legs ready to fail or pitch over!

I have been to Burlington several times and was fairly familiar with some of the city, but I did use google maps street view to cruise the city block by block to really scout locations to save time and gas while there and maximize painting time--which as you know as a plein air painter is always running.

                                                          Afternoon Break 12 x 12 Oil
This also meant arriving and choosing a view that would last long enough to paint in the 3-4 hours we'd have for each painting. When I first started landscape painting I raced the sun but didn't plan the times well to go out. Now I do and so some spots while good subjects were not good at the time I was there to paint.

                                                              Wood Street 12 x 16 Oil

Of course when painting out in public we always had a lot of on-lookers, interested and curious people and the word had spread about the painters being in town again this year. Of course certain members of our party always garnered more interest than others, which made painting a lot more difficult for her.

I did five paintings over the three weeks, I wish I had done more but I just had too much work, but I did attempt one night painting which I flamed out on. I bought a headlamp to use but it was actually so bright it glared off the painting making it very difficult to see. I also probably did it too big, 16 x 20, which increased the difficulty. So I will have to work on that arrangement and technical aspect here at home to get the lighting right before I attempt another night painting.


I never feel better than when I'm out painting and totally absorbed in the process, trance-like yet conscious of the sun's march. The last painting day I arrived a bit later than I hoped and drove around and found many good spots but I just wasn't satisfied till I found this view. Much like the painting Milkshake this view had some story/narrative to it with the truck parked and at the time people working in the yard. I rushed to get going and just as the truck was blocked in on the painting, the owner drover it off, but I made color notes and mixed it on the palette because I knew the truck might leave at any time. I would return home after each paint-out totally drained yet charged by the experience, and wishing I didn't have to juggle so much, but that's my life!

One of the things about these competitions for me is picking views and subjects that are interesting for me to paint as opposed to trying to paint something that might look good as a standard view of a building or street scene. Trying to guess what the judges might like. Most painters go for a conventional view, which is fine, paint what you want, but its the reason I didn't submit my painting of the little wrecked boat in Curtain's Marina. I figured (and was right) several other artists also painted that same boat. Go for something different was on my mind. Burlington has a sense of time passed and a melancholy akin to many eastern cities like Philly, a very "Hopperesque" aroma. That really attracts me.

I am so happy my friend Alina won best in show and Charles took second place. Thats two PA competitions in a row they both won something and as a whole I think our work really stood out from the other paintings in the show, I can see each individual's personality but also the influence of our school and teachers too in the way our work is painted.

Charles Newman

 Two by William Sentman

                                                          Another of Alina's paintings
The reception was nice and I chatted with many of the participating painters most from the nearby area as we snacked on cookies, wine and cheese. So I hope to do this show next year and it sounds like it was a big success and enjoyed by all who participated and its nice to have a local show that isn't 3-4 hours drive each way.

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