2017 Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival – the Conclusion

2017 Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival – the Conclusion

Friday afternoon, August 18, 2017

Dressed and refreshed after a hectic Quick Draw morning, I huddle with the rest of the artists near the entrance. After we turned in our paintings, our juror, Peggi Kroll Roberts, went through the exhibit to choose the prize winners. Now we’re about to hear the results. Fellow painter, Pam Siegfried, was trying to hide, but I made her stand in front of me. I told her, “It’ll be easier to get your award when you win first prize if you’re in front.”

Pam replied, “You’re the one who’s going to win first prize.”

“In that case,” I said, “I’m going to bowl you over when I run to get it!” We both laughed.

There were two categories for the artists participating: Emerging Artists and Professional Artists. To get in the Professional section, you had to be juried in. The Emerging Artists seemed to be first come/first serve. Since this was my first Paint Out and I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, I entered as an Emerging Artist.

Peggy announced the various winners in various categories. Then she announced the Emerging Artist prizes. Third Prize went to Pam! I was thrilled for her. She does beautiful paintings with nice atmosphere. I wish she had a website I could link to so you could see her art, as well. 2nd Prize went to Ronald Farrington Sharp for a very stylized painting of the Dairy Queen in downtown Dexter.

Then Peggi announced the First Prize for Emerging Artist. It was my painting of an apple tree I’d done the evening before! I was dumbstruck. I went up, received my ribbon, thanked Peggi (who told me my painting was charming) and Victoria, and took a couple photos. Tamara Ovall gave me a thumbs up from the crowd. Pam leaned over and said’ “They gave me Third Prize so you wouldn’t bowl me over.” We both laughed again.

What an amazing feeling. I never dreamed I’d win any prize. The other artists’ work is so top notch. To have my work shown with them is a thrill on its own. But winning First Prize is incredible. After the ribbon was attached next to its painting, I took a photo of the ribbon and texted it immediately to my wife, Tammie. She responded back very enthusiastically.

2017 Award winning artists!

Here’s the complete list of the winners, along with links to their sites, if possible:

Plein Air – Professional Artist
1st Prize: Debra Howard, “Beauty by the Side of the Road”
2nd Prize: Jane Flanders, “Big Scary Bush”
3rd Prize: Todd Zuithof, “Mulberries and Cream”

Plein Air – Emerging Artist
1st Prize: John Nagridge, “A Fruitful Day”
2nd Prize: Ronald Farrington Sharp, “Perspective DQ”
3rd Prize: Pam Siegfried, “Barn III”

Quick Draw
1st Prize, Michael McCleer, “House on Fifth Street”
2nd Prize: Todd Zuithof, “On Deck”
3rd Prize: Martha Elchert, “The Alley on Alpine Street”

Artist’s Choice Award
1st Prize: Jill Stefani Wagner, “Hideaway”
2nd Prize: Todd Zuithof, “Summer Stream”

Best Use of Color in Architecture Award
Judy Kelly, “The Old Mill”

Best Use of Color in a Landscape Award
Mary Hertler Tallman, “Barn Poetry XXVIII”

Best Sky in a Landscape or Cityscape Award
Mary Dice, “Southern Exposure”

The display wall with the 5 paintings I selected from the group I painted throughout the week at the 2017 Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival..

One of the display walls with a few of the Quick Draw Plein Airs. Mine is the top center painting.

As if the evening couldn’t get better, my Quick Draw painting I did in the morning sold within a half hour of the show opening to the public. Unfortunately, I stopped out for a quick bite to eat, and I missed the person who purchased it. She didn’t take it right away, though, so I was able to have it shown for the rest of the weekend.

I spent the rest of the night as a volunteer at the tent, mostly watching the front entrance to greet people, answer questions about the art, and keep people from leaving with wine or beer. I went back to my hotel after a delicious Polish meal at the Whitmore Lake Tavern. What a great day.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The morning was spent volunteering at the tent some more. I enjoyed hanging out with the devoted volunteers. A lot of them are not artists but give up their time to hang the displays, register the artists and their art, take care of sales and questions, serve, watch the tent, and do a lot more I probably have no idea about. I had a great time hanging out with Victoria, Courtney, Justin, Sanam, Wa, Donna, Angie, and quite a few more whose names I wish I could remember. I also enjoyed some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had at Hotel Hickman Chuckwagon BBQ. And, of course, I walked through the exhibit multiple times. I tell ya, the paintings in this show were really top notch. I am extremely proud that my work hung alongside art of this caliber.

By the afternoon, I started getting visits from dear friends, my wife, and my mother-in-law. After they left, the evening was spent volunteering.

My plan for Sunday was to continue volunteering until it was time to take my art down and go home. But artist Priscilla Olson had a better idea. Last year, she did a plain air near the tent, even though the painting would not be featured inside the tent. It was just a way to get more painting in. That sounded great to me. I still had panels left and would love to get one more plain air in. Victoria asked if we’d do it close to the entrance of the main tent to help draw more visitors in. That sounded great to me! The tent closed for the night and I went back to the hotel, exhilarated from another great day.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I’m a morning guy. Like I did most of the week, I got to the tent early. Priscilla was already set up inside the tent.

Artist Priscilla Olson already hard at work on her last plain air of the Fest. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a photo of her finished painting.

I didn’t want to paint the same scene she chose, so I set up near the entrance outside the tent. Here’s what I ended up with.

I finished it about the time, the exhibit was closing. About that time, Victoria bought one of my paintings. Her daughter was admiring the first painting I did for the Paint Out of the solitary, gnarled tree surrounded by wildflowers, so Victoria bought it as a present for her. A perfect ending for one of the most perfect and unforgettable weeks I’ve ever had.

So will I ever do another Paint Out? The answer would be yes. I had my second one already scheduled the next weekend. I’ll tell you about it next time.

In the meantime, you can see some more photos from the Paint Out on the Paint Dexter Facebook Page.

Thank you!

I’d like to thank Victoria Schon for running such a terrific Paint Out. I can’t wait to see her and all the other terrific artists in Dexter next year.

Thank you,Tamera Ovall, Cornelis vanSpronsen, Janice Dumas, Pam SiegfriedWanChuan Kesler, and Jill Stefani Wagner for letting me paint alongside you guys. Janice and Tamera, thank you also for answering all my questions about a paint out.

Thank you, Tammie, my wife, for encouraging me to do this.

Thank you, City of Dexter for being such a terrific host.

2017 Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival – Day 5, Part 1

Friday morning, August 18, 2017

Busy morning! I head back to Monument Park in downtown Dexter to turn in the 5 framed paintings I chose to submit. Then I get a gessoed panel stamped on the back for the Quick Draw. The Quick Draw requires the participant to go to a location within the Dexter School District, do a plein air painting, frame it and have it ready to hang, and submit it back to the main tent between the hours of 9:30 am through 1:30 pm today.

I don’t know why I was so nervous about this. I typically spend about 2 1/2 hours on a painting, so the timing shouldn’t be a problem. Still, I decided to work slightly smaller to help guarantee getting a finished painting done. I have a nice 8″ x 10″ panel I bought from Black Art Supplies the day before. It was till early at this point (around 8:15 am) and I wasn’t allowed to start until 9:30. I took advantage of this time by scouting for locations.

What to paint?

I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to paint. Dexter has a lot of inspiring locations. After driving around the downtown area, I go back to two locations I’d painted at already First, I go to the old barn. I’d gotten 2 paintings done there already. Could I coax a third one out? I take some photos to study later, then head to Haley Mechanical where I did my first painting on Day 1. I recalled there was a neat large rock surrounded by wildflowers next to a wooden fence. I checked in for permission to paint and the crew there was most enthusiastic about my return. I looked at the rock again and knew this would be my subject.

At this point, it was 20 minutes until I could start. Plenty of time still. After the easel was set up and the panel attached, I squeezed my paints on my palette and set the timer on my phone for exactly 9:30. I didn’t tone my panel this time, opting to try a painting on a white background.

I passed my time looking at the scene through my viewfinder. I knew it had to be a vertical composition because I’d already rigged my frame for that format. Most of my paintings that week have been done that way, so I figured that would be the composition I’d be more comfortable working in. I was trying to make the mechanics behind the Quick Draw as simple as possible so I could concentrate on the painting itself.

Time to paint!

My phone timer beeped. 9:30! I got out my acrylic paint marker and carefully did my sketch while looking through my viewfinder I held in my left hand. When I was happy with the sketch, I put the marker away and got out my trusty palette knife.

I don’t remember anything really after that. The right side of my brain kicked in and my hand seemed to move with a life of its own. A week of painting multiple paintings a day honed my skills to this point where I didn’t have to think about what I needed to do. The colors got blocked in quickly all over the panel, and then the values, forms, color temperatures, etc. got modified. In the last 15 minutes or so, I added detail and made corrections where I felt it needed.

Then I finished. I looked at my painting and didn’t see anything I wanted to change. I was happy with it as is, so I signed it. I looked at the time. I’d worked on this only 1 hour and 45 minutes! I signed it and took this photo of it.

Then I quickly moved it into its frame. I took down the easel and put all the painting supplies away. When I was cleaned up enough, I fastened the panel into the frame and wired it for hanging. Halfway into my painting, a couple of the Haley Mechanical employees stopped by to see my progress, so I was eager to show them the finished painting. They were very complimentary of it and a few of them posed with me for this photo.

The wonderful and friendly staff at Haley Mechanical posed with my Quick Draw. From left to right: Stephanie Meier, Linda Slater Cooper, me, and Shelbi Polidori. Thanks again for letting me paint at Haley!

I returned to the main tent and submitted my Quick Draw. The volunteer staff were already hanging the rest of the paintings. I wasn’t needed until 4 or so for the awards ceremony. I went back to my hotel to change and grab a quick nap. The painting part of my Dexter week was over.


The Award Reception and the Conclusion.