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.
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.