Well, everyone, this festival is history, and a nice memory it has turned out to be. Let me tell you about it.
The event is put on by the Community Arts Center, Wallingford, PA, but is held in the downtown section of Swarthmore, PA, just down the road. Swarthmore is a small borough and home of Swarthmore College – the downtown is not large but is enticingly full of shops and The idea is that you unload and then move the car out of the way. So we did, and got busy setting things up.
The weather was perfect, more like summer than early fall. Things at this stage of a show are quiet but everyone is moving. That’s a friend of mine carrying a painting down the street to his booth.
The raffle tent gets dressed in a purple skirt.
We got things done and ready to go.
Things always start off quietly but this show picked up speed quickly.
Here are some shots of my location. My husband is great at handling things when I am away from the booth. I am grateful for his help and his presence. Many people do not have a spouse or partner to help them and doing a show by yourself is hard work.
We were located very near the music. My favorite was a group called SwUkestra. Or – the Swarthmore Ukulele Orchestra. As the leader said, the best ukulele orchestra in Swarthmore. Well, I’m a fan. They played and sang a variety of selections, including “Unchain My Heart”, a favorite that I sang along with. Loved it.
Well, things wound down as we got near closing time.
At 5 PM we packed up. Here are a few of our possessions waiting to go into the car. The box with a couple of spaces – that’s a good thing, because it means – sales!
So that’s the report. The CAC put on a very well-organized show, pleasant to attend. They always do and it’s a pleasure to be in it. I saw several people I knew and had a lot of fun. Until next year!
I participated in the Saucon Creek Arts Festival back in early June, and I won an Honorable Mention. Included in the entry fee was a membership to the association for this historic homestead; I received a newsletter the other day and look… there I was, along with other winners, in living color.
I will show you. I think it’s nice they did this recognition.
We participated in this show on Saturday, August 26. I’ve done this show for two decades and it has been held in Memorial Park under the trees for the past 29 years. It’s a short drive, about 25 minutes, from our house.
I feel at home in this show. It was one of the first ones I did when I started in my art career. The same people run it as did back then; they are unfailingly pleasant, helpful, and genuinely love the show and their work.
The event is naturally popular, then, and they get a nice group of artists showing 2D and 3D art.
Plus, it’s a Lansdale tradition to have free doughnuts and coffee for the artists, to keep us going as we set up. Here is a photo. It is dedicated to my friend Diane, who has moved out of state but did the show with me in the past.
We arrived a little before 8 AM. Now, this show has a different way of assigning spaces – the cars line up and are given a space in the order they arrive; the park fills up in an orderly way. We used to worry about getting a “good” spot and arriving very early. Now, we have realized every spot in the park is “good” and we just show up when we show up.
Here, we’ve dropped off the equipment and art at the spot, #79. The green cone (you can barely see ours peeking over the stack of wrapped art) goes in the middle of the space. You can see we get a lot of room. Another great thing about this show.
We did our usual routine and got the booth put together. The pink tags designate the pieces that I have chosen for the judge to view. No prize this year, but I did get nice comments and encouragement. That matters, believe me.
Set-up time is focused and not social.
Once everything is done, there is time to talk. My husband is the man in the pale blue shirt, talking to a neighbor artist.
Then, things get started. It’s quiet at first:
Later in the day, it was crowded. We had a nice number of people in the park.
Sales were decent and the weather was superlative. I also had the chance to catch up with some art friends, including one man I haven’t seen in a couple of years – our schedules just haven’t coincided.
All in all, it was a perfect festival day. Thank you, Lansdale Festival of the Arts!
The event poster tells you all you need to know, but I’ll add my bit – the festival is one of my favorites, I’ve been going to it for a couple of decades, and the same nice people at the Lansdale Borough parks and rec department who were running it in the 1990’s are still doing so. (The poster image was done by one of them.)
The show is held in a shady park and it’s easy to navigate, and it always attracts a lot of good art and craft. If you are around, it is a great late-summer event to attend and I will welcome you.
You saw the photos of our set-up at this show. That was on Friday, July 7. Saturday, the first day of the show, and Sunday, the final day, were pretty similar days. Except for the downpour right before closing time on Saturday!
Well, we got things closed up and everything stayed dry, and that is what counts.
The show turned out well. I’ve got a whole list of thank-you’s to people who bought from me – I appreciate it.
There are the art friends I caught up with – Pam, Aiden, Carol from Easton. We also had great neighbors at this show who I enjoyed talking with.
My sister- and brother-in-law (my husband’s sister and her husband, I guess would make things clearer) came by on Saturday, which I really appreciated. I also received visits from Missy and from John G (and his new little dog, Winnie…he brought her up to the snow fence behind our booth, since no dogs were allowed in the park, even a tiny little puppy).
Well, this is a very social show every year, and I enjoyed it.
OK. Some pictures from Sunday. A beautiful day…
And some shots of the look of things, from our end of the show.
You might enjoy a walk-through behind the scenes of this festival. I can give you a good picture, at least as far as my role in the production goes. There is a routine we go through at each show to get ready for our performance. This show is a good one to examine – we have a set-up afternoon the day before the event, plenty of time for me to take some pictures.
We always shop for food before a show. We take our own. Fair food is not easy to survive on for two hot July days. Although I do have a soft spot for a nice hamburger right off the grill, or maybe a hot dog… Still, it is better to have our own food and drinks.
Shopping done, we have to load the car.
Loading the car is my husband’s specialty. He decides and I put things where he tells me when we are packing up after the show; before the show – he does it all. For which I am really thankful. The car awaits:
We are taking only the tent, racks, table, and miscellaneous items today. We will take the artwork tomorrow and hang it in the morning. I don’t like leaving it overnight. So, the car is not that full.
Loading up done, we drove out to Tinicum Park and arrived about 1 PM. Most shows assign a specific space, but this one puts you in an area, and you choose your location. We have been in this section for years and know it pretty well, so we don’t have trouble deciding on a space.
Lots of room. We park the car right in front. It’s not always possible to be this close to the booth, as many shows don’t have so much room.
Another person’s setting up across the way. Otherwise, it is really pretty quiet around our area.
We get to work. First the tent gets set up. Then we attach the sides. Then we set up the racks. I have covers for them but I’ll put them on tomorrow.
Finally, we zip up the front. The tent is all ready for the night.
Since we were not in a hurry, we decided to take a walk around. Tomorrow this field will be full of people but right now it’s quiet.
The music stage is ready to be opened for tomorrow’s performances. We can hear the music from our tent. I like that.
Next to it is the food vendor area.
A cheesesteak is a Philadelphia tradition. Thin-chopped beef fried with onions on a grill, put on a long soft roll with melted cheese. Yum.
The local garden club has always had a plant sale in the picnic shelter. I like the cactus gardens a lot.
We stopped to talk to a friend putting up her tent over on the other side of the park. Then we walked back to our car, completing a big circle around the show.
We will be back tomorrow morning.
Shout-out #1 to my husband: it is his birthday!
Shout-out #2 to my friend Diane: she has moved out of state and so is not here, but we did this show together for years and years. Good memories.
I participated in the 3rd annual plein air painting competition in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia on Saturday, June 10. Here is what happened…
Chestnut Hill is a neighborhood about 15 minutes from my house. Though part of the city of Philadelphia, it very much thinks of itself as an entity and has an active business association that puts on lots of events such as this one. The main street is Germantown Avenue, lined with all kinds of shops. On a Saturday, it’s very busy with shoppers and pedestrians all day long.
We arrived a little after 8 AM and went to our spot in the 8500 block of the avenue.
I chose a spot in front of the Wells-Fargo bank. I thought it would be nice because of the trees (offering shade) and the fire hydrant, which meant no one could park in front of me and block my view.
The bank was closed, unusual for a Saturday, so I knew that I wouldn’t have to contend with traffic behind me, either. Also, we got quite a bit of amusement all day, watching how people went about figuring out the bank was not open – shaking the door handle, pretty much every person, plus a lot of peering into the interior through the door. We started off trying to warn people, but most did not hear us, and so we just let events take their course.
But I digress. I brought a table to work on, two 12″ x 18″ cradled boards that I had gessoed the day before, a selection of paints, water, brushes, rags…sun screen…
As you may know, I don’t mix paints, I work straight from the tube, so it pained me to have to cut down my color selection just to these favorites, but I had to do it in the interest of space.
I chose two views from my vantage point.
I planned to work on two pieces at once. I do this every time I paint – since I work in layers, and I work quickly, I have to make sure the layers dry before I paint over them, or the result is – mud. I find that if I work on a couple of pieces at a time, I don’t get myself into trouble.
Plus, I like the focus-switching it takes to do things this way. I think it helps me step back mentally, even if for just a little bit, and then when I return, I have the benefit of coming back with increased freshness. Even that small amount of time is meaningful.
All right. I set things up on my table. (Several people asked me during the day why I did not use an easel like the other painters. I got used to working flat on a table when I did fabric and collage work, and that’s that I like to do, was my answer.)
And I started right in.
I’ll show you the progression of each work as it went through the day. Here is the first one, the view to my right:
And here is the second one, the view to my right:
And the pieces as finished – these are same as #4 in the above groups, but larger.
The event was also a competition, and so the judge came by during the afternoon. I did not end up winning anything, but I appreciated it that he spent time talking to me about my work. I think that’s very important, for the judge to interact with the artist; I do not like a judge who stalks in, silently sweeps a gaze over the work, and then goes out, without a word.
When I finished, my husband and I sat back in the shade for a while and looked over the work, shown here with our every-faithful picnic cooler, a staple of every show we do. By this time I had moved the table into the shade – for the last parts of the painting, I didn’t need to look at the scenes but at the painting itself. It becomes self-referential as it nears completion – it needs to look right as its own entity, I find, rather than referring back to what inspired it from the outside.
At the end of the day, there was a nice reception inside a branch of the local bank who was one of the sponsors.
When I started the day, I had a couple of goals.
Stay unflustered while working in front of people, especially when they stopped to talk to me. I am used to dealing with people in relation to my art from my selling experiences, so it is not that I shy away from their notice. I do not have stage fright!
No, it is that when I paint, I really fall into a deep focus, and for me to come out of it takes some effort before I swim back up to the surface. Doing it again and again all day has bothered me in the past. I was determined to stay on track and yet enjoy talking to the people who stopped. And I was able to do so on this day. I had a lot of visitors and good conversations, and I was also able to complete my work. That was good.
I wanted to edit the scenes I saw so that I stayed with the feeling that inspired me to choose them, to find the details or aspects in them that interested me, and to feel free to discard or distort the rest of it.
In the past plein airs I have done, I have gotten caught up in trying to depict the scene at the expense of enjoying painting. Since I don’t really care much about how much my paintings resemble reality in my usual work, I’ve been puzzled as to why such a thing becomes important in plein air painting. Pursuing that end has frozen up my fingers and mind in the past. I was determined not to go down that road again today.
I am pretty sure the majority of the other plein air painters would say that representing the scene is the major goal of the exercise. At least that is what I think from my observation of the work the other participants displayed at this and other events I’ve painted in. But for me, I wanted the scene to inspire me and to let me take it from there. In looking over my paintings, I feel that this year, I did meet this objective. And I felt more relaxed and happy while I was working. That was good, too.
I sold one painting right off my table – some people who had bought from me in the past came by, unaware that I would be there. I had not seen them in some time and I enjoyed catching up. We came to an arrangement for “Chance Meeting”. I named it for the occasion, and they took it home from the reception.
It is the experiences of such an event that matters. I rediscovered this truth at this plein air event.