Thoughts on Conventions

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So #Pace16 is now a memory. A really good one at that. I travelled to another planet really in that the Arizona landscape is up there with the strangest topography and accompanying  flora and fauna that one can imagine.

Pam Springs-285 copyThe only other place that I felt this same way was in Joshua Tree State Park where it looked like the Play-Doh playground of giants.

I was treated to an amazingly well planned convention experience that included an full line-up of some of the worlds best Plein Air Painters. As attendees, we got to watch them on the main stage demonstrating an incredible depth of artistic talent. From the calligraphic flourishes of Jove Wang to the straight forward and wonderfully humorous demo by Matt Smith. There were several others (I think the faculty was in the 70’s) and these were all a treat to watch and try to absorb through pen and paper instead of brush and paint. The paint outs were great in that I tried (along with 899 others) to translate the rushed scribblings in a notebook onto the canvas in some of the most beautiful and inspiring landscapes I had ever seen. Only one of the four painting I did, was anything close to successful. I met some great people and have to say the sheer volume of like minded people was energizing.

Would I do it again? – Most likely not.

As I sat at the dinner table with my friends Pamm and Paul on the night before I had to leave, we began discussing all the wonderful things that had happened and how exhausting it all was at the same time. I began to realize some of the things that I didn’t really like about the experience. As much as I was talking the talk about how fun it was, there was a part of me that kept raising it’s small finger going “um, um” and “what about?”

So, here are the thoughts on what the Party Pooper had to say.

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I had just spent the better part of $2200 to attend this event. The Main Stage demo’s were interesting but nothing I couldn’t get from a well produced video that most of major artists put out. The only thing I would miss was watching it in a large room with hundreds of other people.

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The next big benefit was going on the paint outs where a couple of dozen instructors went out as well and had red hats and green flags and a sign so you could identify them. The sad part was that, unless you stayed in the parking lot or less than a 3-5 minute walk from parking lot, you never saw one so they could never help. I didn’t realize just how many people were tailgate and trunk painters.

The Expo was great fun to walk around and have a look at the latest and greatest gear but I have some pretty wonderful art stores here in Calgary. I did pick up a Shade Buddy Umbrella which turned out to be invaluable in the sweltering heat.

Don’t get me wrong, the convention was a blast and an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life thanks to my wonderfully supportive wife Stephanie. But I found it to be much more about the bonds and friendships that were made and less about REALLY learning anything that was worth $2200. It was vacation and gathering for the converted. A place to chat and reflect on the days events and works which was wonderful.

But…

If I have say $2500 to spend on professional development, I would rather do this:

Purchase videos by my favourite artists and watch them at my leisure  $50-$100

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Min Ma

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Mike Svob

Sign up for workshops by some of my favourite artists which I could target to my style $500 – $1000. Depending on where I take them. The true beauty of the workshops is that I can direct my funds (laser like accuracy) to the exact learning style and most importantly, learning environment that benefits me most. One instructor, 3-5 days and a small class comparatively. This I believe is where those bonds are formed and valuable lessons learned.

Did I have fun at the convention? I sure did, but I have to be smart with our money.

And I think the smart money is in targeted learning.

 

 

#Pace16 Day 6

The Last Day

I woke up with that strange sensation that one feels when out of town friends or relatives, who have stayed with you, pack up and head for home. The hugs and waves and “see you soon” as the car drives off down the road and you close the door to the quiet house still filled with the laughter that filled the room not twenty minutes earlier . Although it wasn’t truly over, it was lingering – sitting in the passenger seat beside me as I drove up to Picacho Peak State Park for the last paint out.

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It didn’t look anything like this when we were there.

The park is beautiful although I preferred Catalina State Park for its lush riparian areas. After paying for my park pass, I drove around exploring as much as I could to see what the park had to offer. It is essentially a small (very small) mountain range with sloping approaches covered in a variety of cacti and other scrub vegetation. I parked, put my pack on, and headed out to find the “perfect” spot to paint.

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Researcher Stumbles Across the Remains of Wandering Painter

After I think an hour of
wandering around in the desert heat I was reminded of “Moses Syndrome” – a term I first heard from Stefan Baumann, artist and instructor which refers to an artists who’s spends far to much time looking for the “Promised Land”. Someday I’ll wander out too far and I may not come back.

 

I finally decided on a spot I passed fifty minutes earlier… sigh.

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I joined Guy Fish who I met in the parking lot and passed not once, but two times in my quest before finally giving up needing company rather than visual perfection. I have to say the company turned out to be far better than the painting although it did start off promising. I had four instructors come by – Tim Oliver who reminds me of John Goodman said he liked the overall composition. I had only done a sketch at that oint. Next was Cindy Baron and I believe Kathryn Stats who liked my block in and gave me some great advice regarding small adjustments to composition.
Two hours pass and Bill Anton came by. We exchanged greetings and talked about the heat and he asked how I was doing although I could tell by the look on his face that he could plainly see the carnage inflicted on the poor little 9×12 panel. We joined hands, said a prayer and he said “thats a wipe off” before walking away taking a few snaps for reference and disappearing into the brush. I gave in, packed up and headed back to Tucson where dinner with friends was going to be a welcome end to an overall great day.

I learned a lot from that wipe off and hanging out with new friends in the desert heat. You won’t have success every time you go out but as long as you take something away from it you’ve ultimately achieved what you set out to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Pace16 – Day 5

Me Painting SmallToday is the last day for convention scheduled events…I know, sad.  As has been the routine, Bootcamp started off the morning with Eric Rhoads presented a great marketing system to help artist who are not the most marketing savvy (wait…that would be most of us) generate more sales quickly and help propel their careers forward using materials that are tailored specifically for artists that help make connections to new collectors.

My next session was on the smaller Demo Stage where Dario Falzon was showing how he quickly moves from Block In to finished painting – and I’ll add effortlessly. Wonderful stuff.

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Dario Falzon

Next up was Curt Walters. A master impressionist landscape artist who has spent a great deal of his professional career painting The Grand Canyon. He has been heralded as “The Greatest Living Grand Canyon Artist” by  Art of the West Magazine in 1997. His work was nothing short of astonishing.

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Curt Walters

Bill Anton

Ball Anton

As if that weren’t enough, Bill Anton was on The Main Stage and Qiang Huang was on the demo stage. Not to mention, the Closing Ceremony’s was right after that and the Expo was shutting down. I was torn and flipped between all three. After Bill Anton was done his painting of a horse on the prairie he turned to the audience and said “this is the most important thing I need to do” at which point, he took out a cloth and wiped it all off saying “it’s just an exercise”. He got a standing ovation.

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Qiang Huang

The closing ceremonies were what was expected. A public thank you to everyone who made the convention happen. They also announced that next  years convention will be held in San Diego!

The Paint Out was supposed to be held in Old Tucson but I decided to back to Catalina State Park. It was close and very inspiring. I was joined again by Pamm and her husband Paul. As we were painting, Paul could hear a deep thrumming base noise coming from  somewhere in the woods next to him. It turned out to be a huge bees nest in the broken limb of a Mesquite tree. Cool. As it turned out I was painting a Mesquite tree about 50 ft from where they were standing. This one turned out pretty good.

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Grant Waddell

#Pace16 Day 4

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Me Painting SmallWell another early start but well worth it. Bootcamp started with a chat with Stuart Johnson who is the owner and founder of Settlers West Gallery here in Tucson. The first name he mentioned was Harley Brown who is a legend in pastel  portraiture!

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Harley Brown

He was the first professional artist to critique a painting I had done a very long time ago. Not only critique it but demonstrate what he meant by reflected light and or lost edges by using his finger to “blend” some of the still wet paint of some trees into the still wet paint of a small white house. It was great to hear his name again in such a creative environment.

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Jove Wang

The first demo on The Main Stage was Jove Wang who is an incredible artist from China. With the help of his wife’s english speaking skills, he painted a portrait live on stage. It was incredible. Jove paints with incredibly deliberate strokes and an attention to an inner artistic sense which pours out through his brush onto the canvas. I actually got slightly emotional while I was watching. It’s the way I would like to able to paint. From something deep inside that manifests itself in artistic expression.

After that was a great panel discussion on an art video project called “A Timeless Legacy – Women Artists of Glacier National Park” 

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Amery Bohling

Then Amery Bohling – A great young artist who is starting to really get a name for herself.

Then Lunch outside in the shade followed by Paul Kratter who did a demo on the demo stage called Importance of the sketch. Great work!

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Paul Kratter

Then it was paint out time! We headed off to the incredibly beautiful Catalina State Park and by we I mean The talented and tenacious Pamm Cuipa and her husband Paul. After a couple of hours and after the sun set forcing me to stop.

I ended up here. It’s missing a few things which I’ll add later.

 

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Grant Waddell

Overall a great day

 

 

 

#Pace16 – Day 3

Me Painting SmallSo, tonights post is going to be a short one. It was a busy and awesome day! Up at 5am to get ready for the 30 minute drive to the resort. Arrived by 6 am to get seats for Art Marketing Bootcamp.

This morning featured a marketing powerhouse – Lee Milteer.

“an intuitive business coach, best-selling author, blogger, award-winning professional speaker, and TV personality. She is the founder of the Millionaire Smarts® coaching program for entrepreneurs and is the author of 11 books and over a hundred audio and video programs. Lee is a regular guest on national TV and radio shows and has appeared as an expert guest on CBS, NBC, ABC FOX, CTV, QVC, PBS, and CNN.” – PACE website

It was a great listen with lots (too much) to take in – just going to buy her book!

First one up on the Main Stage was none other than Matt Smith. An amazing painter and an even better speaker!  Have a look at his work here.

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Matt Smith

Next up was a man I had the pleasure of meeting at the STRADA booth (after all, he was the brainchild behind it) His name? Bryan Mark Taylor. He gave a presentation on Masters Mind – which examines the effects of neuroscience and clinical psychology on developing habits that have a direct effect on the brain and it’s ability to adapt and change through practice and positive reinforcement.

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Bryan Mark Taylor

After that (as if all this wasn’t enough) was a dual painting demo with Dave Santillanes and James Willis. I have to say, the dual demo was an awesome way to showcase and present two Painting Powerhouses such as these. From an audience point of view we had to great painters onstage who took turns commenting on what they were doing as well as answering questions on the fly. Then there was the added benefit of the spontaneous banter between the two. It was great fun!

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Dave Santillanes

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James Willis

Thank the good lord it was such after that because I was flipping starving!

The afternoon started out with a glazing demo by an amazing young artist “who has become a leader in the revival of the techniques and philosophy of the Hudson River School.” I came back to my seat and and saw what I thought to be a finished painting – albeit very monotone . it a skilled hand it was transformed through glazing into an incredibly deep subtly colourful finished product. His name was Erik Koeppel.

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From 4-7 we all went out onto the resort grounds to paint. I struggled through this one as I found the subject unfamiliar and quickly changing. I tried to garb the initial values but was way off from the beginning. It turns out you can’t start a Saguaro Cactus the way you start a pine tree… I managed ok but wasn’t happy with the result. It’s ok though, one more bad painting out of my system – only 1,241 to go!

After a quick dinner of salad out of tupperware with my painting companion Pamm Cuipa, we headed to watch one of my favourite painters Stefan Baumann give a demo about nocturne painting. Stefan is a great speaker!

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Stefan Baumann

One of the best things I’m learning is that even the respected pro’s are human and mess up a lot of paintings – the stories are pretty funny but the important lesson is that growth requires vulnerability.  

Back to the trailer for a bite, shower and bed. Up again at 5 for tomorrows events – can’t wait!

#PACE16 – Day 2…

Me Painting SmallSo today was the big day – the start of The Plein Air Convention and Expo! Starting at 1 pm with an art business symposium followed by  the Opening Ceremony. Th morning was free time and I decided to head out to Saguaro National Park. After driving 40min through the city which included several construction sites I finally arrived and found out that the Park charges $10 and from what I could tell was a landscape just filled with Saguaro Cactus. Nice but with the amount of time I had I wasn’t willing to part with the $10 for an hour Saguaro after Saguaro. Back to the trailer and lunch then off to the Symposium.

When I got to the resort I was pleased to see the Expo was open with all the vendors and their wares – an artists dream! There is some very cool stuff! I was disappointed that the venue for the Symposium was too small. I did;t get a seat and stood in the door to watch but only for a bit. I decided to go and pick up some of the supplies I needed which I couldn’t take on the plane – Gamsol and Galkyd from Gamblin. And, I picked up an umbrella called Shade Buddy for 1/2 price! Greta deal at $69US.

The opening ceremonies at 4 were amazing. They opened with a small western skit put on by Eric Rhoads and some of the artist speakers which included a duel – 10 paces and… draw! And they drew each other on large easels. Great fun! The Salon Award winners were announced and there were two lifetime achievement awards. One was to Ken Auster  awarded posthumously and the other was to Dean Mitchell.- Both incredible artists. 

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Ken Auster

Dean Mitchell

Dean Mitchell

The evening concluded with a wonderful cocktail reception where I met Lori Putman, Bryan Mark Taylor, Matt Smith and Bill Anton. More to come over the next few days from these folks!

Back to the trailer for a good night sleep. Up early tomorrow for Eric Rhoads Business Bootcamp!