Monday, October 29, 2012

advice for pastelists plein air festivals

I have been asked questions from fellow pastelists about traveling and plein air festivals. Rather than answer each inquiry individually I will share with all on my blog. If you are a pastelist and would like to add more of your knowledge, please comment.
 I have learned:
1. packing frames, glass and paintings for show is a challenge. Sedona wanted at least 6 paintings for show while we painted. During the week these paintings were to be replaced with new work. I reused my frames (on display) and took out the old image.
What I would do next time for cost efficiency when packing, is to take the pastels (that would be for show) out of their frames, under glassine, wrapped neatly and protected by boards. The frames I would pack separately- either all the same size, stacked or different sizes nested. The glass would be packed separately with gator board and mat board cushioning between the sheets. This method would cut down on  the costs that skyrocket when shipping numerous paintings under glass. Driving to the festival is definitely the preferred method...if you can. For Sedona, that was a time impossibility for me.
2. Make certain to bring marketing materials. Most painters carry larger postcards, booklets, books, etc. Be prepared to talk.
3. Bring at least two surfaces for each frame. For me that meant I brought 3 Uart mounted boards for each. That allowed me to pick my strongest work for the show.
4. Many painters now have at least one large work at the festival. Some will even create triptych on location. The unusual format demands notice.There was a talented pastelist at the Quick Draw who painted and framed her piece in the time allowed. She won (and deserved) the award.
5. Make certain to take at least a small break during the day. Painting with this kind of pressure needs a release. Each day I would return "home" and go for a run in the canyon. I felt refreshed and ready to take on the afternoon/evening shift.
5. The people of the  West appreciate pastels.
6. Host families are a wonderful way to connect with people. Each time I have been blessed with amazing families and created new relationships. This time my host family had a casita in which they housed both Cindy (from Rhode Island) and me. We each had our own bedroom and bathroom, plus a living room and kitchenette.  Their lovely home was right to the National Park/Cathedral Rocks. WOW! Thank you Jeanette and David for taking such good care of us. I was fortunate to have my casita-mate Cindy. Each evening we would tell stories of the day and share a bit of dinner. Painting for me requires solitude and so we would go off in our separate directions during the day. The pictures taken below were from the Jerome Paint out. This time we shared a quieter location a mile outside of town.
my new friend Cindy Baron

me- making my notans
That's what comes to mind now. While oils are easier to work with at a plein air event, my plein air medium of choice will always be pastel. Why you wonder??? I think it is because of the sensitivity that is unique to the pastel medium.

I want to send a big thank you to all the warm, hard-working people of the Sedona Plein Air Festival. A special thank you goes to Debbie and Vince who patiently supported all of us. Sedona is a class act...not because of the location, but because of the people.
P.S. If you have a moment check out Cindy's website. Link here.
One other amazing pastelist I had the pleasure of meeting  is Bruce Gomez. His work won two awards, including the collector's choice! Here is his website as well. Link here.


Celeste Bergin said...

Great post... though I am not a pastelist, I often wonder why people move away from pastel because of the "hardship" associated with it (the glass! the heavy pastel container!)...the end product seems absolutely worth the trouble and all plein air events benefit from the variety of medium. Beautiful painting, and fun to see your people shots too :)

loriann signori said...

Thanks Celeste! Glad you liked the post. You are correct that so many pastelists move to oil in the plein air events because of the challenges...but it is do-able. It took me a learning curve.Thanks for the input that it is worth the trouble for the unique nature of the medium. Even I was tempted to do oil for the event.....but for now I will continue to do my plein air work in pastel. Cheers!

B Boylan said...

Thanks Loriann for the informative post.

I have painted at several events here on the west coast with my pastesl and yes, there is a lot more stress involved with pastels on the road. I commend you for hanging with it.

I have a few additional points that have helped me and I'd like to share them.

Select one frame size and position (vertical or horizontal). A square format alleviates the selection process but limits your format.

Pre-assemble the frames with spacers and backing boards, wires in place, bumper pads in place, and then wrap them up for shipping. I have never flown with them so that means my festivals are always within driving distance. As we pastelists know, it is time consuming to assemble a frame with all the particulars, so I pre-assemble EVERYTHING! All that I had to do was just slip the pastel into the frame and shoot the pointers in with a backing. Viola'

Oh, and don't forget to title and photograph the piece too.

I commend you for flying out there with all your framing as this can problematic if the glass breaks. I am currently going through the personal debate of oil vs pastel for these events and thinking it's a toss. I was once encouraged to use plexi! Gaaad! Wouldn't think of it!

Loriann, thanks again for sharing your beautiful work and experience, as it is nice to know what how pastelists handle these events.

loriann signori said...

Hi Brenda,
Thanks for your informative comment. I know you do many of these festivals and I do hope we meet one day.
You make a good point that I forgot to say. Everything must be preassembled. (no mats for pastels...that doubles the hassle)
I must say that it is challenging to stick to one exact format. Changing from long vertical to long horizontal is an easy thing to do....and of course squares are thrilling. Hard to stick to one. I should learn to, especially when needing to fly to an event.
This was the first time I agreed to fly and it brought new challenges ....all which I must learn from. Prior to this I always was able to drive to the event and that is soooooo much easier.
As for plexi, it has static electricity which is very bad for pastels. My framer told me there is a new plexi which is VERY expensive (makes museum glass look cheap.)When that finally is less expensive it may become an option.
Thanks for your comment,
PS Don't give up on pastels at events. We need talented pastelists like you representing us!

Sarah Bachhuber Peroutka said...

Thanks to each of you for all the good info. In September while attending and camping at a music festival, several musicians said it was okay for me to paint/sketch while they practiced at their campsites--and then they wanted to buy directly off my easel! What a quandary! I was proud of the work and wanted to make the sales, but was concerned about protecting their paintings until they could get them home. I had glassine, some extra pieces of foamcore (even though it was kinda ratty as I'd been using it for painting supports), and used my drafting tape to cobble together some secure packets for them to travel with. I made sure to stress in words and writing the importance of professional framing/keeping painting away from glass/using spacers/Googling "how to"/etc. when they got home. Although I always paint while traveling, I usually don't do so in heavily populated areas like the music festival and have never had anyone (let alone 3 people) ask to purchase "en plein air." Next time I will be better prepared! Won't take frames and glass, but will bring pre-prepared packets and printed instructions.

loriann signori said...

Thanks Sarah. Sounds like excellent advice for travel. It's always good to be prepared.

Casey Klahn said...

Sarah's story really gives me encouragement to try the same at our local annual Civil War reenactment which is always on memorial Day weekend. Ladies in crinolines/hoop skirts that are either solid black or once one wore pure orange. The soldiers, particularly the Union side, wear the almost black blue. You get the idea. It is a visual display without peer.

Anyway, until my kids are bigger, I won't be doing much of this kind of activity, but it seems like the artist's triathlon and I admire those who do these very much!

loriann signori said...

Hi Casey,
Yes, Sarah's story does give a good idea. I will enjoy reading about it when you try.
Good comparison,these events are like a triathlon that goes on for days and days!
Paint on!