The Outdoor Painters Society made some big moves this year, according to President Tina Bohlman.
“Late in the Spring of last year, the OPS board decided that it was time to take a different path with our annual juried membership exhibition, Plein Air Southwest. As an outdoor painting group, we felt that our annual event should be a true outdoor competition. Not only did we redesign the competition, we also opted to relocate the show and change the time schedule from early April to late May. The board decided to approach the Rockport Center for the Arts as a host venue; it seemed a natural fit since the Rockport/Fulton area of Texas is a favorite of many of our state’s members.”
Through Bohlman’s persistent hard work, the Rockport Center for the Arts embraced the idea of hosting a week-long paint out, followed by a “wet paint” exhibition. The contract was signed, then two-weeks later Hurricane Harvey hit the area, totally destroying the Center. For more than three months the Center had no home, yet none of their programs, exhibits or events were canceled. Finally, they were able to reestablish operations in downtown Rockport. Seeing the determination and willingness of the Art Center’s board of directors and staff to continue providing art programs for the area, and with a desire to help the Center keep a normal schedule, plans for making Plein Air Southwest 2018 happen moved forward. So, during the week of May 21st, 52 plein air painters converged on the Gulf Coast town of Rockport, Texas.
Bohlman continues, “Outdoor Painters Society was welcomed with open arms…not only at the Art Center, but across the street at Wind Way Gallery. The artist/partners in the gallery, stripped their walls bare to make room for the over-flow of non-competition paintings created during the week. Everywhere we painted, people came up to us and told us they were so glad we were there…capturing their town. The citizens of Rockport/Fulton obviously understand the benefits of having art and artists in their community. For 7 days, Outdoor Painters Society paid tribute to the rebuilding of Rockport, a community which steadfastly preserves the area’s authentic identity and offers its heritage and history as a cultural treasure. Visitors travel to Rockport/Fulton so they can experience – if only for a little while – a sense of the quality of life there. Locals and visitors alike enjoyed the rare chance to share in the true magic of the creative process with OPS competition artists; a unique opportunity to learn about outdoor painting, support art education in the community and meet some of the nation’s top plein air artists. For the artists…. It was a great week of heat, wind, hard work, fun & camaraderie – you can bet that we’ll be back!”
Plein Air Southwest has earned the reputation as one of the premier events of Spring. The Outdoor Painters Society sponsors the event to showcase the incredible talent within our membership and to promote an appreciation for the process of painting “en plein air”. All works are completed outdoors on location and are characterized by the bold use of color, design and the freshness of paint application. For more information about the Outdoor Painters Society, or to become a member, please click HERE.
Here are the 2018 winners. Congratulations to each of you. Click images to enlarge.
Suzie Baker – Best of Show – High and Dry – 16″ x 20″ – Oil; Artist’s Choice – Harvey Was Here – 16″ x 16″ – Oil – I chose to paint these views because they tell the story of this community. Nine months ago, Hurricane Harvey hammered this gulf coast fishing town relentlessly. The devastation can still be observed but so can the pride of its residents. Harvey may have torn apart fences and hulls of vessels, but he also galvanized this community like never before. It was my honor and privilege to record this time and place in the history of Rockport. May it ever be “Rockport Strong”!
Jason Sacron – Award of Excellence – Rockport Dusk – 16″ x 20″ – Oil – I was actually painting another scene when I looked to my right and saw this scene…crashing waves and dusk setting in. I thought to myself for a second “this is too sweet to paint.” But I quickly switched gears and tried it anyway. I had to come back the next day to finish it as that time of day only lasts moments. I was lucky though, it gave me pretty much the same evening clouds, light situation etc, so I was able to finish in the two short sessions. What I really loved about this was I couldn’t piddle around. I had to hit it fast and furious and it made for a spontaneous and fresh piece.
Patrick Saunders – Award of Excellence– Ready for Dawn – 16″ x 20″ – Oil – I’ve never been comfortable with painting nocturnes due to my difficulty with night vision after having eye surgery. I’ve only attempted two night paintings in the past, but I decided to use the Plein Air Southwest event as an opportunity to push out of my comfort zone. When I saw this shrimp boat at 4 a.m. in Rockport Harbor, the thought of painting it made me so nervous that I decided to give it a shot. Always best to paint what scares you.
Diane Frossard – Quick Draw Award – Morning Harbor – 9″ x 12″ – Oil – To capture the light and atmosphere, looking into the sun rising on the harbor, I simplified most everything into a silhouette and then painted the shapes of light hitting the tops of the forms. The sun reflecting on the water was BLINDING in this contre-jour subject, so I had to move my easel back, beside my 4-Runner, and view it through the set of rear windows which diffused the glare (and saved my retinas!). Thankfully I had enough information down before a shrimper docked and totally blocked my view. I don’t recommend staring into direct sunlight… but it worked out!
Beth Bathe – Award of Excellence – We Will Rebuild – 16″ x 20″ – Oil – Rockport Texas was at the epicenter of Hurricane Harvey this past September. The town is still covered in blue tarps, boarded up and partly closed. But there is also rebuilding by the hum of generators and contractors putting the town back together again. Painting there, I was looking for a setting that represented this proud community, something damaged by the storm, but still showed strength and beauty. The shrimping boat out at the horizon symbolizes how life is still going on…and the dock, still standing on strong footings.
Bob Rohm – Award of Excellence – Torn Sails – 16″ x 20″ – Oil – I was exploring sights to paint near a dry dock boat yard when I found these three old sail boats under repair. I painted the one in the morning and returned after lunch to paint them again. I walked around them exploring angles and discovered this view featuring all three. Like a pinwheel they looked good all the way round but I preferred the side light from this angle, especially the way it lit the back of one while the others were in shadow.
Spencer Meagher – Award of Merit – Walkway to the Beach – 16″ x 20″ – Oil – Initially needing a shaded place to frame paintings, I found shelter from the intense midday sun under an elevated walkway leading to Copano Bay. After framing I noticed the intense cast shadow of the walkway. Something about the repetitive, dark arcs from the bridge drew me in. My goal was to convey to the viewer the intensity of brightness and the heat of the day. The simple, dark shadows not only made for a strong design that moves the eye through the painting, but their contrast made a great complement to the warmth of the sunlit sand in the background.
Greg Summers – Award of Merit – West Sirius, Sea Drill – 14″ x 11″ – Oil – First time ever to view an oil derrick and was struck with awe by the immensity of these things, even for Texas it’s huge! There were 3 in a row, and Richard Sneery, who I was painting with, said he’s taking the one in the middle, I can have either end. That was the easy part, simplifying and making some sort of sense of this modern marvel was the challenge. As I painted I noticed the atmospheric change from it’s base to its towers, wow who would believe? Well it was as thrilling to paint as it was to view.
Ted Clemens – Award of Merit – Airing the Nets – 9″ x 12″ – Oil – The first attempt for the week, this one took a couple of sessions at Fulton Harbor. I was unfamiliar with boats and water, but after one false start, I got the composition worked out, then went back the next afternoon. A few things had changed and the nets had been taken down—but there was enough to go by to finish up. The fresh look also revealed some errors to fix.
Joe Anna Arnett – Award of Merit – Stilted – 8″ x 16″ – Oil – The coast of Texas is “target rich” for artists. There is so much to paint. These bright houses on stilts have always fascinated me. I was not sure there would be any remaining, post Harvey, and was delighted that so many have been restored to their glory. The long format seemed the best complement to this subject. Because of the bright colors (I did the colors that were there), I felt the subject might get a touch saccharin. I gave the sky a little trouble in order to keep it out of that sweet category.
Kaye Franklin – Award of Merit – Dunes on the Beach – 9″ x 12″ – Oil – This scene was on the beach in Port Aransas on a hot and windy morning. The area was very inspiring with the light hitting the dunes and the shapes of the shadows. I was going for an impression of light and shadow in a simple design and the smaller canvas made that possible. The beach is a great place for high key paintings and I enjoy painting beach scenes.
Nyle Gordon – Award of Merit – The Big Tree – 20″ x 20″ – Oil – This ancient tree is estimated to be over 1,000 years old and was a joy to paint. Located in a secluded area of Goose Island, this colossal oak was awe inspiring. The challenge was to capture the sheer scale and span of its far reaching limbs.
John Caggiano – Award of Merit – The Red Trim – 16″ x 20″ – Oil – I came upon a row of docked fishing boats one evening in Rockport, Texas. One was better than the next. Each had a distinctive shape and color, as well as different rigging. I love painting nocturnes. They make any subject, even when bland, dramatic and haunting, especially when aided by an accommodating light source. And so, out of the dozens of boats, I chose the one in the painting. I loved the red trim and the cast light from the lamppost above me, which lit both the subject and my canvas. I did not use my cool light clip-ons and depended solely on the warmer and dimmer light above me. I worked on the painting two evenings and surprisingly, except for small areas, the color was compatible and the values correct within acceptable parameters.
Fran Ellisor – Award of Merit – Looking for the Pearl – 14″ x 11″ – Oil – I grew up on the Texas coast, fishing, crabbing and shucking oysters with my Dad and sisters. When my Dad opened the oysters, we would scramble forward, looking for the pearl. This alley was paved with oyster shells; some were crushed and some were perfect half shells. The light was beautiful and I stopped to check out the possibility. I looked down and saw many half shells. I guess I’ve always been “looking for the pearl”. I found one here that day in the joy of painting this work.
Christy Kidwell – Award of Merit – Down But Not Forgotten – 12″ x 16″ – Oil – I knew I wanted to paint “Down” the minute I saw those ruined hulks tossed about by Harvey, silhouetted against the sky. Rockport was my mother’s home and the trip back was bittersweet. There has been a lot of progress since the hurricane, yet so much history was blown away in the storm. As I was painting in the shade of another boat, a man came along to make repairs. We got to visiting and it turns out he had worked on the boats that were part of the shrimping business my grandfather had founded. It seems that everyone in Rockport is connected in some way. It is this spirit of working together that has made them survivors and “Rockport Strong”!
DK Palecek – Honorable Mention – “Alley Blues” – 9″ x 12″ – Oil – After taking a beating trying to paint shrimp boats the first few days (no shrimp boats in Wisconsin) I returned to my current fetish with beat up old buildings and alley-way patinas. Rather than the charming shop facades lining the main street, I chose the alley view. The early morning shadows on white brick from this strange new light source grabbed my attention. Needless to say, the heat of the Texas shoreline was a welcome change from the thirty-degree morning temperatures I was coming from.
Diane Frossard – Honorable Mention – Cove Harbor Clouds – 12″ x 12″ – Oil – A low horizon, fairly subdued landscape, focuses attention on the sky. Foreground grasses lead the eye to the boats and the tallest boat mast (placed near the golden section) points to the cloud. I quickly blocked in cloud shapes & color notes before the light changed too much. As I started filling in the clouds and sky, I noticed my big cloud had turned into an uninteresting symmetrical blob so I had to do some cutting and reshaping. I went back a second morning to finish the landscape. My paintings will always remind me of Rockport’s warm, friendly, welcoming atmosphere.
Chuck Rawle – Honorable Mention – Copano Bay – 10″ x 20″ – Oil -“ Copano Bay” was painted from underneath a bridge that provided welcome shade and a cool breeze on a hot, sunny day. I initially started to paint this scene in a smaller, cropped format. After studying the scene for a few minutes, I saw this arrangement that almost painted itself.
Stuart Roper – Honorable Mention – Bait Shop – 9″ x 12″ – Oil – There were plenty of subjects from which to choose during the PASW 2018, but when this big orange crustacean caught my eye, I couldn’t resist. The contrasting cool and complimentary shadows and surrounding water immediately grabbed my attention and filled me with inspiration. This little jewel of a Bait Shop was a perfect subject, challenging and wonderfully fun to attempt to capture before the afternoon light slipped below the horizon. What an honor to have had the opportunity to participate in this year’s event alongside so many talented, inspiring and super nice fellow artists.
Carol Devereaux – Honorable Mention – Surfer’s Delight – 12″ x 16″ – Oil – This painting was from the first day of the Plein Air event, Port Aransas. Storms were brewing, cloudy, red flag day. A few brave souls were checking the waves for surfing. I started painting around 9am, finished up around noon. By 12:30 the storms came through and stayed till late afternoon. Because of the upcoming holiday weekend, I did not have the time to spend in the lines for the ferry to return to Port Aransas. Thank you to Joshua Been for the award of Honorable Mention. Fun show, great place to paint.
Robert J. Simone – Honorable Mention – Fulton Harbor Morning – 16″ x 16″ – Oil – The marine subject matter available in Fulton/Rockport was fantastic. But I wanted to paint something that was more than just another shrimp boat painting. So, I decided to use the abstract shapes of the boats and nets to frame the morning light as it glared off the bay waters just beyond the harbor. Designed this way, the boats are subordinate to the light. Subdued color choices were made to help convey the peacefulness of mornings at the harbor. A bonus was that several colleagues remarked how the painting reminded them of Emile Gruppe’s work. I’ll take that any day!
Sherri Thomas – Honorable Mention – Texas Oaks – 16″ x 20″ – Oil – I’m amazed at how many oak trees survived Hurricane Harvey. They twist and bend to fit the environment and I found them irresistible to paint. A scene of resilience by the roadside.
Images not shown:
Beverly Boren – Award of Merit – Beach Strollers – 9″ x 12″ – Oil
Tammie Lane – Award of Merit – Rudy’s Boat – 12″ x 12″ – Oil
John Pototschnik is a Master Signature (Emeritus) member of the Outdoor Painters Society.
John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Living Master
To view his art and bio, please click HERE