Joseph, OR is a little town of less than 2000 that is nestled up next to the Wallowa Mountains in NE Oregon and near one of the most beautiful lakes – Wallowa Lake. The area was part of the Nez Pearce land and Chief Joseph. The area is filled with history but more recently artists. This area has some of the NW’s best artists, sculpture and 2D. Each year the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts happens the first full weekend of June. I have gone for several years now and exhibited there. Over the last 3 years they have had a quick draw event that is a very fun and exciting time. There is live music, fabulous treats and appetizers and drinks while several artists attempt to create a masterpiece in a one and a half hour time frame. As the artists draw, paint, sculpt, the attendees have the option to watch the pieces come to life and then bid on their favorite work. The silent auction then goes on for a half an hour after the quick draw time limit is up.
This quick draw is, as I said an hour and a half long. The quick draw event at the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale that I go to is one half an hour-long! So to approach that event is a little different from this one that allows an hour more! I love to do these for the challenge.
All that said, there is some definite planning that has to occur to make a quick draw a success and even then I rely on a little divine intervention because sometimes even the best laid plans can turn upside down in a hurry!
The process…I know going to the event the exact size of painting I am going to do. I have the mat ready, in the frame and the paper I am working on is mounted on a foam core cut to the size of the frame. Once the painting is complete, it slides into the prepped frame, backing paper covers the back and the wire for hanging screwed in place. (All these details – thanks my husband Les)
I know what I am going to paint. I have sketched it and laid it out on a sketch pad prior to the event. This year I decided to do a painting based on a few photos I had taken in the Joseph area in years past. The basic scene is one looking at Prairie Creek and some cows grazing in deep, lush grasses.
This year, my friend Betty Wood is attending the show and she is there with camera in hand. She photographed the process of the painting from the beginning to its completion. Betty is a fine artist. She works in lots of different mediums, most recently having some fun with wood carving. Her work is amazing and wins at the wood carving shows consistently.
I first of all use a hard pastel stick and make some light lines on the paper, separating the paper into quadrants to allow me to quickly place cows, an old
barn, trees, etc in strategic, visually satisfying spots. I am using Pastel Mat paper. It is new to me and I love it. It has an almost suede, soft feel to it, yet it holds pastel well. I am using a salmon colored sheet and will allow some of the paper to be exposed.
I start painting at the top of the paper and block in the sky, followed by the Wallowa Mountains which I want to be a significant resemblance of the mountains. I work fairly quickly and get this done so I can start on the meat of the painting. Before I have started, I have earmarked the basic pastels I want to use and limit my palette so I am not wasting time looking for that particular blue or whatever color it might be. Once the mountains and sky are complete I can concentrate on the near land mass. I rough in the trees and basic shapes of the land and creek with a dark blue. Once that is on the paper I use a workable fixative and
give it a quick spray. That dark blue is the base for the springtime trees and the contour of the creek bed. From that point it is about
getting the distant valley in and establish a depth and distance and getting the up close basic color in. Once that is done I add the old barn and draw in the cows…shapes only at this point. People stop by and watch the process and I visit as I can. I don’t feel too much pressure because things are coming together. I love to show the process to the people who are there.
I then get the creek to come to life with some reflections and the feel of moving water. I add the small amounts of details to the cows. They are Hereford/Angus cross, so white faces and some white along the top of the neck and tail are added.
I use a hard pastel and “burnish the grasses in a little lighter value that the base. Some light purples set to dance across the fields as a hint of wild flowers. Also use some of the Diane Townsend sticks because they have a lot of grabbing power because of the degree of pumice in them…texture in the foreground ! The other pastels are Unison, Sennelier, Terry Ludwig and some Schmincke. The dark blue is #463 Sennelier. With about 20 minutes or so to spare, I feel like the work has come together. I shoot a couple of shots of it and Les helps me get it in the frame. Another friend Penne Locati is there and we visit now that I am finished. She and a friend bid on it throughout the process, but at the last moment another dedicated bidder wins the piece. It sells for highest price at the quick draw…more than $400 and goes to Pendleton to live. The buyer told me she bought it to honor her mother in remembrance. A nice way to have one’s work represented…