This week I'm participating in the Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival. Dexter is a cute town near Ann Arbor with lots of parks and farmland surrounding it. This is the second year they are hosting the festival, and it's a fun, well-organized event. On Monday morning you get your plain white canvas or paper stamped to indicate that you didn't get an early start on your project, and then you have until Friday morning to complete one or two plein air paintings in the town or the nearby parks. There is a silent auction on Friday and Saturday, so folks have the opportunity to come by and purchase the work.
Having only four days to complete the work puts a little pressure on artists. While I was working this week, I was reminded of the Duke Ellington quote "I don't need time, I need a deadline." It's common for artists with unlimited time to procrastinate, but in the presence of a sharp deadline, most of us buckle down and get the job done. Actually, this week was exactly the kind of week when I would have ordinarily stayed inside instead of heading out to paint, since it rained hard both Monday and Tuesday. Knowing that I only had these four days, however, I headed out anyway.
I worked on a small scale, and I I got very wet, but I did complete a painting of the Huron River in the rain.
I wasn't able to make it out on Wednesday, but Thursday I went out again and completed a second small painting on a sunny (but unseasonably chilly) day at Half Moon Lake. Then I popped both pieces into frames so that I could drop them off Friday morning.
So there they are - tiny paintings made in a couple days in an adorable little town. If I'd had more time or better weather, I'm sure I would have made something bigger or something different, but under the circumstances, I'm happy to have been able to do just this.
What was perhaps even more valuable than making the little paintings was the atmosphere in the town and opportunity to work with other artists. I went to the festival with my friend Ave, and we had a lovely time tromping about in the rain and drinking hot herbal tea once we were soaked through. (I also have to thank Ave for the festive, ruffled, purple umbrella in the photo above. She lent it to me.) There's something tremendously valuable about seeing how other artists respond to same set of challenges and then discussing it all afterwards, and festivals like this one are perfect for that.