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Oct 24, 2012

"If It's Tuesday, It Must be Belgium..."

Well maybe not Belgium perhaps, but over the past five weeks I've felt like a ping pong ball bouncing around the western world. In the past 5 weeks I have gone from Portland to Amsterdam to Spain to explore street painting, world-class museums, tempranillos and tapas in the La Latina neighborhood of Madrid. I then drove down to Toledo to walk through what I and my friends christened as 'Venice on a Hill'; then continued on south to the gypsy quarters of the Albiazin and the Alhambra and Generalife (all located in the ancient hills of Granada) then dropped the rental car off in Algeciras before ferrying off the docks past the Rock of Gibraltar on our way to Spanish outpost of Ceuta. Then crossed La Frontera on foot into Northern Africa ("Sir! Your papers please? Business or pleasure? Very good, Mr. Jefferson!); then haggled with freelance drivers for a two hour taxi ride into the Tif Mountains to the Islamic blue town of Chefchaouen, Morocco (Where apparently hashish is legal.); then four days later haggled for a taxi ride back to Ceuta, only to miss our ferry back to Spain (Nothing to do with hashish, I promise!). I then took a train to the White Hill town of Ronda in the sun-drenched region of Andalucia; and a second train a few days later back to the Plaza Mayor for more tempranillo and tapas in Madrid. Then finally, back to my home in Portland via Amsterdam. 

After doing a little laundry I jumped into another plane and flew down to the 14th Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational to paint like a crazy man. Which apparently I am. Wow. Now I am home again in Portland resting up. 

What a world. What a world. 

So I've been living the dream – traveling and painting non-stop – but it will feel nice to be home for the next couple of months. Even if it is cold and grey around here. (I'll paint indoors.) All the ins and outs over the past 6 months have blurred together because there wasn't enough breaks in between. After a while you start to struggle with the 'If It's Tuesday, It Must be Belgium' syndrome, which I believe makes creating meaningful art more difficult. (Remember that old bedroom farce from 1968?)

This was the third time I've participated in the Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational and because of that I felt more at home there than anywhere else I'd been during the past six weeks. But before landing at John Wayne Airport I was still working at divesting myself of a few protozoic hitch hikers I picked up in Morocco the week before. (Okay, let's not blame the goats I saw grazing on the hillside above the town's water source, or the two ladies I came across who were preoccupied with refilling the mineral water bottles I'd been ordering in the local restaurants, okay?) But no big deal. I was still up for burning the candle at both ends in Laguna regardless because that's what I do. I mean, no worries, right? I  was armed with antibiotics...

Unfortunately fate had other plans because I got slammed again with a new bug on my flight down. I must have added a flu to the Moroccan miasma because after I deplaned and drove up to Pasadena to see the Edgar Payne show it became obvious I was going to go down big time.

You haven't lived until you've signed on for one of these events and get taken down by a bunch of microbes. Paul Kratter and Randal Sexton can speak to this as well since they got slammed by a flu too.

(Pictured left: me, during Thursday's Crystal Cove Paintout, standing on a picnic table to gain a view over Larry Moore and Jason Situ. We were all clumped together, painting the Beachcomber, waiting for the sun to break. My height worked so well I did a 180 degree turn and knocked out another painting looking down the beach.)

But hey, if you go pro you get out there and do the job anyway. You clock in and push some paint round. And that's just what Randall, Paul and I did. But for me, no after-hours partying, no midday socializing, no group dinners. Just get up to paint and then off to bed. Not my usual approach. (grin)

My hosts were awesome. The best I've ever had. Greg and Lynn nursed me, propped me up, and still let me walk out the door when I probably shouldn't have. During the first half of the week, while I was still contagious, I made myself scarce so not to pass anything on. Heck, I even started taking midday, mid-painting naps, which helped a lot. 

(Pictured left: My host's 'third child' sneaking a lick of Greg's coconut birthday cake. Rosemary, it was delicious. I agree with the dog and want the recipe...)

Everyone at Laguna upped their game this year. The competition and quality was hot. There were some new faces, and some seasoned returnees from the earlier years, and it was clear to everyone on Sunday you had to work harder and paint better than ever before. As a result the paintings went up in quality and size.

And speaking of size, I was hoping to shock and awe my collectors this year by knocking out three grand beautiful paintings for Saturday's Soirée. Apparently a few other artists had the same idea because my 20 x 24s were not the largest pictures in the galleries. John Burton walked in and nailed a 30 x 30 and 40 x 30 on the wall. (Geeez, John, maybe you could let me know the next time you plan on doing that? Ha!) And congrats to John on being honored with three -- yes, three -- major ribbons. Well done and well deserved. I should also mention Billyo walked in and hung a big painting himself, a painting that had so much paint on it I wasn't sure the wall would hold. (kidding...) Billyo's won Best of Show with that painting. It was thick and juicy.

(Pictured left: Me doing a little clean up in my host's driveway because I felt too icky to play outside.)

So clearly, now in Laguna you go big or you go home. Next year I'll bring the 'manEasel' down. (Just talkin' a little trash, trying to get into Ken Dewaard's head a bit.) What's next? We gonna invite Tim Bell to the party in 2013? If we do we better be ready for something monumental.

(Pictured right: me, Morgan Samuel Price, and Ken Dewaard during the gala Soirée, contemplating whether or not to join the Mormon Church because they have so many gosh darn good plein air painters. While drinking martinis. So we probably wouldn't qualify...)

Here is a clip from the Sunday QuickDraw Silent Auction, when every painting sold inside the hour. It was a Collector's Flashmob. Just like old times...

And here are two new collectors who purchased my Sunday QuickDraw. 
(The painting can be found below)

Howard and Lynn were great. They kept checking my blog every day to find out where I would paint and showing up to say hi. Thanks for the photos, Howard!

Well, in spite of becoming an international petri dish during the week I had a fantastic time painting in the Californian sun. The Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational is always fun and this year everything felt like an awesome uptick. Plus, I had the terrific sales this go-round. I had been prepared to ship a lot of (big) work home last Monday but hey, it turned out I didn't have to. Nice. A huge thank you to all my collectors who came by this year. Thank you for your support!

And also, another big shout out to all the LPAPA and Laguna Art Museum staff, and all the volunteers who made LBPAI happen. None of us painters could have done our jobs without you! You never receive enough recognition.

Here are the paintings from the week:

"Monument Point QuickDraw"
Laguna Beach
oil on panel | 9 x 12 inches

"The Golden Hour, Crescent Cove"
(near Laguna Beach)
Oil on panel | 20 x 24 inches

"Through the Keyhole"
oil on panel | 20 x 24 inches

"Shimmer & Glow, Moss Point"
(w/Catalina on the horizon)
oil on panel | 20 x 24 inches

"The Beachcomber, at Crystal Cove"
oil on panel | 9 x 12 inches

"A Walk on the Beach"
Crystal Cove
oil on panel | 9 x 12 inches

"A New Day, a New Dawn"
Easton, Maryland
Raymar Art Contest Finalist
oil on panel | 12 x 16

And finally...

I also sold a 2011 study of the Great Stone Church of San Juan Capistrano during the Sunday pubic sale. It was a 20 x 16 inch painting, oil on panel.

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of it, either from last year, or this one. (Stupid me!) So here is a little clip of me painting the larger one in the field. This bigger one is still available if anyone is interested in collecting it. Just hit me with an email...

All in all it was a fantastic event. Despite going down sick I had a wonderful time and sold a lot of work. I hope to be back next year!

For a list of the award winners and an extended slide show from the Laguna Art Museum, click here.


4 reader comments:

Mary said...

These pictures take me back - to both your wonderful class here a couple of years ago and to my youth spent on that beach! Your beautiful paintings make me feel like a kid again.

Thomas Jefferson Kitts said...

Thank you Mary. That must have been a wonderful childhood. I have been asked to paint for the Crystal Cove Alliance, the org that funds the restoration going on there. So I expect to be painting more beach scenes down there.


Celeste Bergin said...

Wonderful paintings...I think my favorites are Moss Point and A walk on the beach...oh wait...nevermind...I love them all. Congratulations and welcome back :)

Thomas Jefferson Kitts said...

Thank you Celeste. I am happy to be back, even in the rain. But come February I'll be looking for some sunshine to paint...