I flew down in to Orange County and drove to town the Friday before the Invitational started checked out the lay of the land. After one day there I began chomping at the bit – Like a racehorse shivering in the gate. So I called the event coordinator, and head-boss Rosemary, and asked her if I could jump the gun. She said "Sure, no problem" and I broke out the paints. Good thing too, as the weather went a little 'Oregonian' later in the week. (In fact, whenever anyone learned I was from Oregon -- or, 'Oregone'? -- they looked at me a bit cross-eyed for bringing the weather down with me. Me? I considered merely it as handicapping the competition. I can paint gray any day . . . Ha!)
Painting the Rock Pile, in Laguna Canyon. I hear they have cougars up there . . .
So, Sunday morning rolls around as a picture-perfect postcard of a day, and everyone congregates at Treasure Island Park for the LPAPA orientation and kick-off. It was a veritable Who's Who of West Coast SoCal Plein Air Painters, with a number out-of-towners like myself tossed in for good measure. (There was also a few East Coasters as well. Good to meet them and chat about Plein Air Easton. Easton sounds like a good thing to go for next year. Gotta do Easton. Even in the 110 degree heat, with 90% humidity, I'd like to do Easton. Preferably with an ice cold Mint-Julip in my hand, given last year's conditions . . . )
Here we all are, ready to go:
The Crew...I'm in the last row, on the outside, left of the palms...
The first order of business was for everyone to listen to the boundaries and rules, and go over the week's do-not-miss events. And there was no shortage of events to consider. Then, we were given our swag bag and a 8 x 10 x 2 inch gallery-wrap canvas. The canvas was for immediate use – right then, right now. We were expected to produce a painting while still on the grounds of Montage, a ritzy ocean-sided resort. We had civilians, amateur painters, reporters, photographers, and who knows what all milling around as we worked. That canvas was to be turned in the next day, unsigned, so it could be hung in the Laguna Museum during week to encourage ticket sales for the Soiree. The thinking was, if you buy a ticket you could drop one chit into a box next to an anonymously hung painting, and purchase it for $300 if you were lucky. No matter who the the artist was, if your chit was pulled, the painting would cost $300. Great idea, and kinda fun, eh? Takes the artist's brand out of the decision-making equation. (I pull my wallet out and picked up a Jennifer McChristian, who was later kind enough to sign the front later in the day. I sleuthed out which one was hers by her paint handling. Wasn't easy to do since there was five other artists painting the same scene together, all of them seasoned professionals, and every painting a fine work.)
Well, we had two hours to make our painting and I think I knocked it out of the park. Here it is, and yes, it sold:
"Checking the Lobster Trap", a.k.a., The Keyhole, Treasure Island
8x 10 inches | oil on canvas
Yes, That hole is 'The Keyhole', and it is a regular tourist spot. So, when the lobster fisherman you find in the lower right corner showed up in the last 20 minutes I did a happy-dance. Couldn't have asked for a better focal point to take your eye away from the obvious...
After producing our obligatory 8 x 10 we were set free to paint the rest of the week wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. I chose to 'commute' between the beaches and the hills, depending on where the sun and fog was. Nice. Everything was so close together I only put one tank of gas in the rental all week. I had a great time. Produced fifteen paintings, fourteen of which I exhibited in the Laguna Art Museum. (Next year, assuming I am invited back, I think I'll produce fewer works so I may paint a couple of big paintings. Something in the range of 30 x 36 inches or so. You hear that, Mr. Stern? I promise: Bigger ones.)
Here is most of the work. A few were left out of this post because they didn't photograph well and I don't have them available to re-shoot. With the exception of a major humbling train wreck, all the work was good. Never painted as well as this in my life. Can't wait to get back down there and do some more.
"Laguna Gold" | 14 x 9 | oil on canvas on panel
"Laguna Sunset, @ Low Tide" | 16 x 10 | oil on canvas on panel
(Thanks, David, for shooting a better photo of this. Much appreciated...TJK)
"Glistening Light" | 12 x 9 | oil on canvas on panel
"Top of the World, Laguna Hills" | 16 x 10 | oil on canvas on panel
(Yes, a gray day in Laguna...TJK)
"The Way to the Beach, Laguna Morning" | 10 x 16 | oil on canvas on panel
"End of the Day in Back Bay, Newport" | 9 x 12 | oil on canvas on panel
"The Rock Pile, Laguna Canyon" | 14 x 11 | oil on canvas on panel
(First photo above shows me painting the Rock Pile...TJK)
And finally, "The Mission" (a.k.a., The Carmel Mission)
16 x 20 | oil on canvas on panel
(We we allowed to bring one none-Laguna Painting to exhibit, and this was the one I chose...TJK)
Here are a few shots leading up to Saturday's QuickDraw, the museum QuickDraw auction, the cocktail hour, the evening Soiree, and Sunday's public sales.
Me, in the last few minutes of Saturday's QuickDraw. I hopped a fence to avoid the crowds that I know would build up and hoped the park police wouldn't require me to move during the event. It almost worked. The fence kept the mob at a distance until one guy climbed over and hunkered down right next to me. He then began peppering me with questions on technique: how to paint rocks; how to paint water, and other stuff. He wasn't heckling me, he was serious about his questions, but it wasn't a good time for him to be chatting me up. I was almost done anyway, putting on the finishing touches, and I politely kept brushing him off. He eventually got the message. After that, a friend and ex-student of mine showed up from LA and she helped me pack up. The painting went into the museum and sold by 12:30 pm. I didn't even get to enjoy the dang thing, other than the painting part of it . . .
In front of the Palace...
The QuickDraw Auction, which started less than an hour after handing off the painting...
Shoulder-to-shoulder silent bidding. The competition and tension was palpable...
Me, with my QuickDraw painting. Yellow means it got bid up. Bryan Mark Taylor experienced a major bidding war. A good thing...
The QuickDraw painting. Can't remember what I called it. "Laguna on the Rocks" or something like that, maybe. This is the one and only photograph I managed to get of it as it hung on the wall. And I had to elbow a few folks out of the way to get it too. Ha! Maybe I'll hear back from the buyer someday so I can get a better shot. Hey, if you bought this painting give me a call...
Lunch provided, upstairs for us artists, during Sunday's exhibition.
Kent, Barbara, and Barbara's mother Beverly. Long-time collectors and now great friends. Big supporters who've been collecting my work for years. I met them online and only got to meet them F2F last week. Thanks for that terrific lamb dinner!...
And finally, intermixed with the plein air painting there was party after party after party. I think I spent less on food on this trip than I did on any other paint-out for this year, and Laguna ain't a cheap-eatin' sort of place. But then, if you are a Lagunian (a Lagunii?), and you offer to throw a party to feed the artists, well, we tend to show up. (The dinners were all good, but Jeff, your BBQ hot dog and beans dinner party was the bomb. And that's one nice menagerie you have around the house! A regular petting zoo. I hope the pig got back to sleep.)
In the end, I made some great new friends, solid professional connections, sales, and set the painting bar higher for myself than ever before. It was a wonderful painting trip. No, it was an awesome trip.