Finished PaintingHoward Friedland in Chester, NJ. We visited the Willowwood Arboretum and Natirar state park where we took pictures, sketched and painted on site. The views were breathtaking. It was difficult deciding which scene to paint as there were so many to choose from. The final day was spent working from photos indoors which is another aspect of landscape painting. It was a great workshop! I learned a great deal and will always remember Howard saying that talent depends on how much you practice.
Attending the workshop gave me the courage to participate in a locally sponsored painting competition "Paint the Town Challenge" that is part of the annual Medford Arts Festival. The task was to find and plein air paint a recognizable are of Medford, NJ. All participants had to show up between 9am and 10am to get their blank canvases stamped, and then paint and return the piece before 4pm. Other than the workshop, I had never taken my easel outdoors. While I was nervous, I felt up for the challenge. The other thing making me stressed was the pressure of having to finish the painting in just a few hours that same day. I seldom start and finish a completed piece in one shot. I have to fit my painting time into a busy schedule, and with two active kids, it can be difficult to do.
Picking the location was not too hard. I had scouted the town on the weekends over the last several weeks. I chose an old mill known as Kirby's Mill and sits along side a beautiful meandering creek and a small damn. My initial concern was more about the competition for the painting location than the difficulty of the scene. I had often thought of painting it, but never before had the courage. I was happy that Saturday morning, when I showed up at the mill. I was the first person there, and was able to get the exact location I wanted. I loved the spot, but as soon as I began to paint I said to myself "what was I thinking in choosing an image with a reflection in water". At one point I thought about turning my surface upside down, but then realized that wouldn't work because the image is a mirrored view. Simplifying the foliage was also a difficult challenge. It helped to squint to see dark and light abstract shapes, but I still feel I got lost in some of the greenery. A tool I found helpful was a value finder. I squinted, placed the card on the landscape, then onto my painting to judge the value which was very helpful in painting depth. I began painting around 10 am when it was cloudy. Fortunately, the sun did not come out for the first few hours, so the lighting was pretty consistent. After that time, it was a struggle trying to remember what I saw with the sun peeking in and out of the clouds. I can see why you have to paint quickly and simplify, simplify, simplify!
Much to my surprise, I won first place! My painting will hang permanently in the Medford library and I am proud to say I tried my best. What a great experience!