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Aug 22, 2012

Raymar Contest Finalist for July 2012...

I was packing up the last few bits and pieces from my downtown studio with the plans of moving everything back into my home studio when I received an email from a friend congratulating me as one of the finalists for Raymar's July 2012 Fine Art Competition

Here is the painting, and a link to the Raymar's July 2012 contest page it appears on:

"A New Dawn, A New Day"
12 x 16  |  oil on canvas on panel

Available for purchase

I painted it last month during the 2012 Plein Air Easton Competition and it was my favorite from the entire week. Mike Kowalski was on my right and Camille Przewodek was on my left and we were standing on a overpass with the morning rush hour traffic whizzing by us the whole time. Stepping back to evaluate our paintings would have been fatal. The stark contrast between the commuters blowing by their air-conditioned cars and the scene before us was one of those rare inexplicable moments. The light was holding and the temperature had yet to reach the anticipated uncomfortable high. In fact, it was only 89 degrees with 95% humidity at 6:30 am. Ha! One of those lazy-dazy paintings. Still, one of my favorites...


Raymar's Fine Art Competition is one of the largest and prestigious online competitions and the quality of the work which is submitted is high. (Yes, my painting was executed on a Raymar panel but you don't have to use their product to win. That's nice of them, isn't it?) I never assume my work will rise to the top because all the top players in the plein air game throw their best at this contest every month.

I don't enter these things often but when it was announced July's judge would be Jennifer McChristian I decided to opt in. I respect Jennifer's work a lot. I admire her technical virtuosity, but even more so, her ability to choose what you or I might feel is a mundane subject and find the lyricism within it.

Who else can paint the concrete of Los Angeles and make it beautiful?

Who else can paint a stairway descending from an elevated expressway, and add a chain link fence, and still make it stunning?

She does it by painting the light, not the thing. And that is something to remember. Jennifer's depiction of light is what I admire about her work. Anybody can paint a pretty picture of Tuscany or Provence. The internet is littered with such subjects. Jennifer can roll out of bed, set up in front of a beat up Kwik-E-Mart and convert it into High Art. (She can paint Tuscany or Provence too!)

I've met Jennifer a couple of times at various competitions. Even painted along side her. She is quite approachable and I picked up one of her smaller QuickDraws from a recent  Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational. I think she's the closest thing the West Coast plein air movement has to Sargent sketching in the field. Look at her values. Look at her neutrals. Look at her muted warm and cools. Look at her simple and economical brushwork. She lays down a solid thumpin' bass line and then plays the right notes on top. She's pitch perfect. She makes it look easy but it ain't. That much I know.

Thank you Jennifer for the Raymar call-out. Much appreciated. And thank you for the following comments about my painting. You nailed my aesthetic intent. Even down to the ducks, who entered the picture just as I began to tear the easel down. I hemmed and hawed  a bit about whether to include them but the painting would not have been the same without the ducks. It's nice to know you think so too.
Judge's Comments: This immensely delightful and airy plein air says so much with so little. Aside from capturing the freshness and vitality of a ‘new day’ the artist has managed to simplify and edit his shapes beautifully, giving this painting a bold and abstract quality. While some plein air painters simply recreate or copy a scene, Thomas translates this scene to it’s core essence by using simple flat shapes, a serene composition, and luminescent colors. Subtle value shifts and painterly brush strokes along with a sumptuous color palette are used to capture the nuances of morning light. The opulent and vibrant strokes of pinks and mauves sparkle against the predominate complementary greens. The delicate balance of warm and cool greens creates a sense of depth and atmosphere. The group of ducks gently floating in the calm waters complete the painting by adding a sense of scale and whimsy. - Jennifer McChristian



Hey readers, on September 20th I am off to Spain on a private painting trip! First Madrid, where I will visit the studio of Joaquim Sorolla-Battista, the Prado and the Sofia museums to view their Velasquez, and of course paint in the streets. Then I head down to Granada by car to paint the Alhambra. Then, to Northern Africa to the Moroccan Berber town of Chefchaouen (google it!). Then, back to the White Hill Town of Ronda in Andalucia – What was the setting for Hemingway's 1940 novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls". 

Follow me on these travels by subscribing to this blog. (in the upper right column) That way you will see all the posts and paintings as I go. Without missing anything! Assuming I have 'teh internets' to connect to!...

3 reader comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Thomas. I saw your painting on the Raymar site earlier today. It's a beautiful piece and more interesting knowing the background story.

I am a big fan of Jennifer McChristian's work and it's all the more prestigious, that she was the judge.

Thomas Jefferson Kitts said...

Thanks Bill. Jennifer is a fine painter.

Jose Romero said...

Hello from Spain! The Sorolla museum is GREAT, hope you have a good time in Spain... But Battista????? The name in spanish is Joaquín Sorolla; or Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, if you want to add the second surname. Joaquim is the catalan word for Joaquín (Sorolla was born in Valencia, where they also speak a language very similar to catalan); in english Joaquin Sorolla would be okay.

By the way, "Velasquez" is Velázquez, so Velazquez would be more appropiate in english, I guess.

Hope you don´t mind these corrections!