Sunday, June 6, 2010

Quick Draw!

May and June are super busy months for me, so I'm playing catch up on blog entries.

In the middle of last month I participated in the 38th National Art Show and Auction in Ellensburg, Washington. I went specifically because I was interested in participating in the quick draw competition. It was a blast!

To explain the quick draw event -- it start in a large room with a circle of chairs on the outside, a bar serving beer and wine at one end and a stage with mike and announcer. About twenty artists brought their easels in and there were some tables in the center for those artists who wanted to use them.

The object is for the artist to create a painting (or wood carving, etc.) in one hour. The painting cannot be started, but you can have a light, simple pencil sketch for placement. There is a large audience filling the seats and more folks moving around talking to the different artists. Everyone is poised, with the announcer kicking it off the event at the top of the hour. He continues to talk about the artists, what they're doing, and call out the time, i.e. 40 minutes left, etc.

The event is all media, not just oils, so the watercolorists have hair dryers plugged into power to dry their work, so they can move onto the next stage. I should mention that at the end of the hour, not only does the painting need to be done, it needs to be framed! So I had my frame all ready, with the holes drilled, offsets loosely in place and wired. My electric drill was at hand, and when there were only a couple of minutes to go I popped the ooey gooey oil painting into the frame, and screwed it down.

As I mentioned I had a blast. I had gone to the event last year and watched, which is why I joined the western art association, so that I could participate this year. The one aspect of it I didn't think about last year was about the noise level when painting. It's so loud. There were hundreds of folks talking, hairdryers running, and the announcer's running commentary over the loudspeakers -- whew! To help my focus I had my mp3 player plugged into one ear, but left the other open to hear the time countdown, and answer an occasional question from viewers.

At this point the hour is up, the paintings are done. Next, the artists quickly gather their easels and stuff, rush them out of the building, the workers quickly come in, breakdown the tables and set up the chairs for the audience. This is all done fast! After hauling my easel and paints out, and dump them in my area, I rush back in a get assigned a number, (tying not to bump my very wet painting), we all line up in order of assigned number. The audience is getting seated, and the auctioneer is warming up his voice.

Because the last phase of the quick draw is that all the just produced artwork is immediately auctioned off. And then the piece is gone, taken buy it's purchaser. I'll say it again, -- what a blast!

The photo at the top of this entry is the quick draw painting I produced in one hour. I had someone shoot me holding the painting so I'd have a record of what I did, then ran into take my place in line. It was 16 x 12 oil on canvas. Needless to say the painting was not as complete as I would have liked, and the pressure was huge, but I had so much fun, that I will certainly participate in a quick draw event any chance I get.