What's it like to paint outside for a year?
Bugs, Wind, Rain, Sunburn… the wonderful struggles of painting outside :(
Traveling, hiking, meeting new people, finding inspiration… maybe it's not that bad!
You certainly get some ups and downs when painting outside. That variety of experience inspires artists to get outside, and is one reason why I pursued a year of plein air painting in a project called Perpetual Search. This is my most recent and largest project to date and is made possible with a career development grant from the Central MN Arts Board & McKnight Foundation. I attended the plein air convention in Monterey, CA, took a workshop from Andy Evansen in Hastings, MN, and participated in 5 plein air festivals in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The project culminates in this exhibit. I was fortunate to be able to travel to some inspiring places, meet and hang out with many incredible painters, and sneak a few paintings in. Around 225 to be exact.
One year of painting outside is a challenge and to describe everything that happened is unrealistic, but I’ve always been a bit of a numbers guy - so here is one year of plein air painting, by the numbers:
57 value sketches
26 paintings sold
120 minutes per painting
27,000 minutes spent painting =
450 hours spent painting =
19 straight days spent painting.
215 square feet of watercolor paper used
10,425 miles traveled
5 plein air festivals
12 state parks
30 trips to the Quarry Park
55 nights spent in a camper
2 First Place Quick Paints
2 Best of Show awards
1 happy dog
1 amazingly supportive wife!
(No - that's not my wife! No offense to the gentleman, I'm sure he's a lovely guy. In Hastings, MN I painted his skid loader so he had to come check it out)
I am extremely grateful for all of the support and for being able to participate in the 5 plein air festivals - the chance to hang out with like-minded folks is a treasure no matter what field you are in. I was very pleased to receive some purchase awards and some artistic awards, and being able to set aside time to paint in new and exciting environments is priceless. Events were held in Red Wing, Duluth, Aitkin, Hudson, and Grand Marais.
They were rewarding on a personal level, but I was also participating as part of a business plan to gain national attention for my work. In my recent blog post titled “5 Ways for Painters to Gain National Attention”, I shared my business plan for doing exactly that. Part of the plan was to participate in these local events, hopefully win some awards, and catch the eye of national plein air events, galleries, and media outlets.
A lot of times you draw up these plans and they sound good on paper but reality is a completely different beast altogether! With the encouragement of some fellow artists, I applied to a national plein air painting event in Palm Beach / Jupiter, Florida. It’s a juried event – only 50 artists of hundreds of applicants are accepted, it boasts a high number of sales, and has over $10k in awards including $5k for best of show.
I am very pleased and incredibly honored to announce that I received my acceptance letter last week – I’ll be heading to Florida in March! As a result of winning Best Of Show at the Duluth Event, I was also featured in an article on Outdoorpainter.com, written by Bob Bahr.
(This is my amazing wife Mallory! Ya I'm a lucky guy.)
So I guess the plan worked! It came together... somehow. I think it is due to happenstance and a lot of luck rather than a perfect strategy, but either way I’ll take it! This Florida plein air event is icing on the cake for what I would consider to be an amazing year of painting that stretched me and humbled me in so many ways. I am so grateful to the CMAB and McKnight Foundation for funding this project; all of the collectors who purchase my work; to all of the amazing artists who encourage each other so generously; and of course to my wife Mallory for letting me chase this dream of being an artist!
This has to be the most excited I have ever been to unveil a body of work to collectors, fellow artists, friends, and family. The exhibition will feature collections, with all of the paintings from each event location being showcased together on one wall. I will do a plein air demonstration early in the day from 1230 - 3, and give an artist talk later in the evening. If you are looking to add a painting to your collection, I would recommend previewing the paintings online and then attending the early viewing party from 3-530, when it will hopefully be a little less congested. There will be light snacks available, with wine and beer available for purchase. The exhibit will be up from October 24th – December 5th, and if you can’t make the reception on October 24th, there will be another reception during the art crawl: November 6th from 5-9pm.
For questions or to set up a private viewing, contact me: 320.250.0073 firstname.lastname@example.org