it takes guts
It takes all those things to put yourself and your work out for the world to see…like plein air painters do every day.
But it’s one thing for a professional plein air artist to paint in public, with passers-by stopping, taking pictures, asking questions and looking over your shoulder.
It’s quite another thing for a kid to do it. Well, the little kids don’t count – they don’t care what people think. But tweens do. Teens sure do.
I applaud the courage of the youngsters who participated in Plein Air-Easton!’s event on Sunday – Quick Draw: The Next Generation.
They were on display, throughout the streets of Easton, executing paintings in front of our eyes.
And you know… EVERYBODY’S a critic. Or worse. Kids get that sweet, slightly mocking, patronizing smirk from grown-ups, and the kids know darn well that the adults are thinking things that they’d never say just because they’re kids. Uncomfortable indeed.
One kid seemed to be at his limit. “I don’t need YOU!” he yelled at me, with a kinda mean face. He must have really had it, because I hadn’t said a word to him or his pals (yet). But I got the hint and backed away. The rest of them were pleasant. Sweet, even. Brave, for sure.
They’d have uncomfortable looks on their faces and sorta look away as you’d approach. But when I asked if I could bother them for a minute and what it was like to have people peeking over their shoulder, and what was the dumbest thing anyone said to them, most of them were kind.
Some of the kids protected themselves, and chose subjects that enabled them to have their backs to the public, or be positioned in such a way that strangers would be less likely to bother them. Others, perhaps the extroverts, set up smack in the middle of the streets.
Then, at the end of the four hours, the artists stand in line along with their paintings, while the crowd wanders through, looking at them all and deciding which – if any – paintings, to buy. Our local paper, the Star Democrat, has a great photo of this (stressful looking) part of the event on the front page of yesterday’s paper – click here to see it. Photo by Sarah Ann Jump.
Plein Air-Easton! is one of the country’s most successful and impressive plein air painting festivals, and it’s one of Easton’s best annual parties. Stretching out for a solid week, the country’s finest plein air painters come here, set up around Talbot County, and paint. In public. In the middle of the sidewalk, or on the side of the road. In pastures, fields and on beaches. In cemeteries. They’re everywhere.
A week-long celebration with music and events, gallery openings, workshops, demonstrations, critiques, lectures – Plein Air-Easton! is a very big deal around here.
My favorite part is the Quick Draw – on Saturday, the 58 juried artists set up their easels downtown and get two hours to produce a painting. Yeah, two hours isn’t very long.
The other favorite part is hanging out inside the Academy Art Museum, where wet paintings are hung, viewed and sold throughout the weekend. The energy inside the museum was electric, and it was great to see the award-winning pieces (over 20 cash awards totaling over $21,000 were given).
Sponsored by the Avalon Foundation who sponsors EVERYTHING COOL in Easton (the farmer’s market, the incredible historic Avalon Theatre, the banner auction, this event, movies and outdoor concerts, MCTV and the multicultural festival), this event brings the community together in a different way. And as a result of the excellence of this event, our area is a hotbed for plein air painting.
On Sunday, there’s a kid’s Quick Draw event and The Next Generation – artists 25 and under – who get four hours to produce a painting.
Here’s Caroline Beste of San Diego who was in town visiting her grandmother and joined in the fun. I love her take on the big bronze geese sculpture. Most plein air painting is painstakingly accurate, and you end up with a lot of stuff that basically looks the same. Not with the kids, though. They’re much freer with abstraction and color.
For more information on Plein Air-Easton!, read my article on Monday’s Talbot Spy, and check out the event website. And mark your calendars for next July – if you’re thinking about visiting Talbot County, this is a great time to do it.