Sunday, August 13, 2017

Chiaroscuro at Paint the Point

DISCLAIMER: most of the included photos are just lousy. I have better ones but the love triangle between my phone, my pad and Blogger has gotten ugly. Sorry...
 Mineral Point Wisconson's 4 day plein air event was better than ever this year (this was my third time). It's a very unique and friendly town of 2400 people, all of whom seem to own a dog. Walking dogs appears to be their chief pastime. The exception is Enzo the leash trained cat. Enzo recently crashed a Lands End photo shoot. The shoot was for a Japanese edition of their catalog and he's apparently quite a celebrity there now. Bye bye Hello Kitty...

 The weather was exceptionally pleasant with astounding clouds one afternoon. I managed a fast picture from a high vantage point between two moving storms.

 There was a quick sideways shower the following morning. You can see from this shot of my feet that it came from behind. THEN the light changed to total sunshine...AND, the city maintenance crew started digging up the street in front of me. Evidently this is a trouble area because they dug up the SAME street in front of me LAST YEAR. Maybe they're angling for portraits?

 Speaking of which, I'll explain the chiaroscuro reference in the post title: Many towns have a lovable character whose "parts inventory" is a bit light, or who has been rendered so by circumstance. Mineral Point has Don, who hangs out in the park and offers to get you a soda if you happen to be sketching. Fort Madison artist Carlene Atwater was painting in Don's territory and gifted him with a portrait she whipped out using colors remaining on her palette from a street scene (the woman has skills). He sits on his park bench now,  hugging it like a teddy bear and showing it to anyone interested.

The chiaroscuro part is this: Carlene did that kindness about the same time Nazi maniacs in Virginia were running people down in the streets. It's a light and dark world.
 Anyway, here's what I painted (I hope Carlene and Gin Lammert post what they did on their blogs, too). The first day I headed west of town to try some of this area's unique drift-less zone (in the last ice age glaciers chose to hang out near Des Moines rather than Mineral Point).

 That evening they held the Nocturne event and I struggled with this office front. Watching artists at night is becoming a popular event among the locals. A guy sat on the curb behind me watching, till the last brushstroke at 11:20. Did I mention it's a unique town?

 Next morning offered up this alley scene with a cool shadow pattern. Amazingly, the car stayed there for the whole session. A first for me, and it also took first place and Artists Choice. I was stoked!

 This was my quick paint subject, an abandoned, rusty cable spool trailer bathed in chromatically redeeming morning light.

 The organizers of this event go out of their way to treat the artists well with gourmet luncheons and dessert soirĂ©es. The artist company is first rate and area has something for everyone in terms of subject matter. Sales are good too. This year they sold 40% of the work produced, with a strong emphasis on the Nocturnes. I highly recommend this event.


  1. Great post! Even though you had trouble with the photos they still look good. Glad to hear about the nocturnes too. I love doing those so it's nice to hear people were gravitating towards them. Great job and well deserved first place.

    1. Thanks! I had hoped Carlene would mention her nocturne misadventure. Gin has a good nocturne story too. Yeah, sales overall were good, but as a sub-group, the nocturnes sold the best.

  2. Thank you for the kind comments. I certainly enjoyed the experience as well. It was a respite from the pressure of competition. As artists, I think we have a greater appreciation of diversity, along with the ability to find beauty in the everyday.
    I made the mistake of not taking a picture of my nocturne, so I left out the story.

  3. Great post, and always love to hear stories about the light, because we are so bombarded with the dark! So you stayed up that late for the night event and still were able to produce the winning painting the next day! Impressive as always! How nice to have an audience to keep you company into the late hours for the night scene. I think that would be a real challenge, to produce a night scene that isn't too dark.