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.
We participated in this show on Saturday, June 17. Normally held in the park, the anticipated weather problems necessitated a move indoors, to the Masonic Temple right across the street.
Glad we were inside, as it did rain hard in the morning and off and on all day. I hate being out in the rain at a show. I do hate it.
Nonetheless, things were chaotic in getting set up, with everyone having to figure out the new layout, find their space, and haul items up and down stairs. Additionally, this is the first year for a new set of show organizers – the previous ones (30 years) having passed the baton. It all turned out fine and I give everyone compliments for adapting and making things really nice.
OK. So we had a spot in the lobby, right at the front door. Couldn’t have asked for a better one.
I stepped outside during setup for a minute. Setup is a time when everyone is focused on their own booth, and each artist has a routine for getting things put together. Not a lot of talking or socializing during this part of the show, just a lot of activity.
Once we were set up, I took a look around. The Masonic Temple, built in the 1920’s, is a registered historic site, and what a wonderful building it is. It houses the meeting rooms for Masonic functions as well as some office space. The whole place is solid, well-built, enduring – tile floor in the lobby, much wood trim, marble stairs. Just wonderful.
Artists and crafters were set up in the main meeting space:
and in the less formal room below it:
Once we got in and were settled, the day went well. The venue worked just perfectly and I think the indoor location encouraged people to stay and wander around (always good for sales), since they did not have to worry about the weather. There was a good vibe – the closer quarters encouraged more conversation, a nice hum of activity.
I caught up with some art friends – when you do shows, there is a fellow-feeling among the exhibitors and you make friends, staying in touch from show to show. This year, the show was bittersweet for me. There have been losses in the last year for people I know here; illness and death, sadness and grief. I reflected on how many years I have been doing shows, and once again I understand that now I’m one of the people whose memories encompass events that seem from another world, almost, and involve people who are no longer with us.
For me, this show was different from how it had been in the past, and I don’t mean the temporary location disruption, but the feel of it, and it made me sad. But, as I watched the new group of organizers coping with the unexpected and feeling good about putting on a successful show, well, I remember that life is a flow and it always goes on. I will adapt, too.
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.
I’ll be participating in this annual event once more – coming up this Saturday.
The way it works is – artists are assigned spots along Germantown Avenue in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. We create our artworks over the course of the day and there is a group showing in the afternoon. Passersby can go along the avenue and take a peek into the creative processes of artists working in all kinds of styles.
I’ll be located in the 8500 block, east side. The event starts at about 10 AM and goes until 3 PM. Look here for more info.
Yesterday, Saturday, June 3, I participated in this festival, held on the grounds of the Heller Homestead and put on by the Saucon Valley Conservancy. The event was held in Hellertown, south of Bethlehem, PA, about an hour from my house.
The show featured about 50 artists with booths set in the grassy area surrounding the house and in the gravel parking lot. I did this show two years ago but did not attend last year. It’s a new show – 2015 was its first year.
We drove to the show in rain. I was not happy. I’ve vowed to avoid doing shows in the rain any more, but the weather forecast was for clearing later in the morning. I crossed my fingers.
We arrived. It was pouring.
We were directed to our spot. Knowing the site from my earlier attendance, I asked for a space up near the front. Here is a show tip – you don’t want a space that is hard to access with the car. Setting up is not usually the problem – many shows, like this one, assign arrival times to keep congestion down. But when the show is over, and you want to go home, being able to bring the car in close to your space, when you want to, becomes important.
There is nothing good about having your booth all taken down but being unable to get your car nearby to pack up because – your neighbors’ cars are already in the way or you are blocked by the displays of people who take down more slowly than you do. Hard feelings can erupt when people are tired…
My space was right up front, on the gravel. In this kind of weather, the thing to do is get the tent set up and put everything else underneath it. Anything not water-proof has to stay off the ground.
It’s not easy to set up in these conditions. The things you want are always stacked underneath everything else. Trying to keep things dry is a challenge. The ground itself can be a hazard. Our neighbors’ spot was muddy and sloppy. The show organizers were ready, though – they had bales of straw on hand to scatter around. I am allergic to straw, so I didn’t ask for any in my space. At shows, you just have to take what comes as it comes.
Well, we got things set up and without too much ill-temper. Having a corner space, I had extra display room. I appreciated that as I could hang two large paintings I recently did. There is not always enough room for paintings this size. They take up a lot of sales space.
Then, around 10 AM, the weather started to improve.
By the afternoon, well, we were in a different world, it seemed.
To top it off, I received an Honorable Mention for my work.
Packing up was a breeze and we were on our way home 45 minutes after the show ended.
This show had it all as far as weather experiences. But we got through it.
And I’ll take this time to say the volunteers were unfailingly cheerful and helpful, the show was very nicely run, there was a good selection of artists, and my show neighbors were pleasant to be with. (I traded a small painting for some tiny clay bowls with my neighbor across from me.) Sales were also good and the crowd appreciative. So, maybe a rough start but a good end to things. That’s a the way for it to be.