My How Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

My how time flies when you’re having fun. I know. That’s a lame excuse for not having kept in better touch. I apologize. The problem is…and I’m sure some of you can relate, is that as more time passes without being in touch with someone, the harder it is to make your self sit down and just do it. OK. Maybe you don’t have that problem. I’ll accept that it is me, deal with it and move.

The good news is, here I am posting the latest. When I left you good folks I was in Marble Falls, TX for a plein air event and the transmission on my Explorer had gone out. Unfortunately, I have to report that things didn’t get any better like I had prayed for. I came down with a bit of an intestinal bug that lasted about 4 days. I wasn’t in very good shape to be on my best game for this event…that and the worries about the transmission cost.

Never-the-less, I will say that I was totally impressed with the event and the folks of Marble Falls. They were very gracious and the event was one of the best I have attended. The hospitality was unsurpassed. I met some wonderful people and made new friends. I very much look forward to returning next spring if I am once again invited.

Despite the difficulties I was having, I did manage to get a few worth while paintings done. A rather unique one was my only 2nd acrylic painting I’ve ever done and to boot it is a nocturne, a painting done at night, obviously without the benefit of daylight and only my headlamp for light on my palette and canvas. What a challenge that was. This was also only my second nocturne. I’ll have to say that I found it extremely fun to do and that I’m rather pleased with the result.

This is the bridge crosses what they call down there in Marble Falls, Texas, the Colorado River, which has been dammed up to make Lake Marble Falls. Now all good Texans and all good Coloradans know that the Colorado River, which originates in Colorado, doesn’t flow anywhere near Texas, so how this river got named so, nobody could tell me. Anyway, the spot I had at the RV park I was camped at had an unobstructed view of the bridge. At night it was stunning the way it was lit up. The local folks were pretty proud of this bridge and it’s night time lighting so what else could I do but paint it.

The show finale was wonderful but we’ve got to keep moving along here as I have a lot to catch up on. Unfortunately, on the way home my brand new, still under warranty, Ford transmission with only 600 miles on it failed again just outside of Grants, New Mexico. I was completed devastated. I couldn’t believe it. All I could do as I sat there on the shoulder of I-40 with each passing semi-truck shaking my disabled Explorer and trailer, only inches away, was hold my head in my hand and say a prayer. Several of them in fact.

I called roadside assistance and once I got the agent on the phone convinced that I was in NEW Mexico, and not OLD Mexico, a tow truck was dispatched to my rescue.

The trailer would be hooked up once the Explorer was up on the bed of the tow truck. Off to Grants we went, which was the closest Ford Dealer.

OK. I have to tell you about the conversation I had with the agent from roadside assistance. He asked where I was. I explained that I was somewhere on I-40 between Bernallio and Grants, New Mexico. The agent said he was sorry but my coverage was not good in a foreign country. I said “WHAT?” I’m in New Mexico not OLD Mexico. He once again stated their policy. I explained that New Mexico is one of the United States and therefore covered in my policy. I asked him where he was located, figuring it was India or somewhere out of the country which would explain his ignorance. He replied he was at the call center in Texas. I screamed through my cell phone that I was next door in New Mexico. The tow truck was shortly dispatched.

To make this long story short, the dealer in Grants was the best. Ed Corely Ford. If you ever need their service, I highly recommend them. Seriously. I have received several phone calls from them asking if all is well.

Wife Kathy came down from Colorado to rescue me as it would be several days before they could do the job. They got the 2nd new transmission installed just days before I was due to leave for San Diego, CA. Kathy and I returned to Grants to pick up the Explorer on a Thursday and returned to Montrose on Friday. It was 300 miles away. A bit far for this aging couple to do roundtrip in the same day.

Saturday, I picked up artist friend Lewis Williams and we headed to San Diego for the 2017 Plein Air Convention. For those of you who have been following along, I attended the convention in Tucson, AZ last year. We loaded the Explorer and left on our expedition to the left coast.

With radio antennae for ham radio and CB and box for extra storage mounted on the roof rack, it looked like we were on an expedition. I posted the photo and hash tagged the convention and soon we had a following. I know it might look a little ridiculous and for San Diego it probably was but hey, it sure got us some attention and it was really easy to spot our vehicle in the parking lots.

This convention was amazing in so many ways I can’t even begin to count them. Right from the get go things got off to a raucous start. I was one of six, selected from 1,000 attendees of the conference to get on stage, opening night, and do a demo painting for the “Paint Wars”. Three guys against three gals. Of course it wasn’t that simple. We had to use our non-dominate hand, which for me is my left hand. The subject of the painting was chosen by the audience. Each of was different. Mine was to paint a dinosaur on a picnic in a desert, and we had 30 minutes to do it. The music was loud and the audience was cheering and we were encouraged to “mess” with each other. It was bizarre. I mean it was really bizarre.

You know, I’m really an introvert of guy. I don’t really like to call attention to myself. So this sort of put me out of my comfort zone. Way out there in fact. I have never, ever, done anything like this. If it hadn’t been for friend Lewis who talked me into it and if my wife Kathy hadn’t told that I had to do it, I would have missed the best time of my life…well certainly the best time I had at the convention anyway. I will admit it was fun.

And here is the finished painting.

Here’s the rub! The winner take all prize was worth over $7,000 and I lost by one point as measured by the electronic applause meter. I couldn’t believe it. I did however gain much attention from many attendees throughout the week who thought I should’ve won. I had people all week coming up to me. I became known as the dinosaur guy. HA! My 30 minutes of fame.

After it was all said and done I have become absolutely infatuated with San Diego. I can’t really say it was anything in particular but ALL of the experience. The convention hotel was right on the bay marina. The hotel we stayed at a couple of miles away was right on the marina. We went o Balboa Park, Old Town and Point Loma. I got some good painting done to boot and the demo artists and speakers at the convention were well worth the price of admission.

Here is a watercolor I’m particularly fond of, that I did of the Bell Tower in Balboa Park. For those of you who don’t know, Balboa Park is the site of the 1915 Panama and California Exposition. You can find out more about it here. A truly amazing and inspiring place. I loved it. I could’ve spent the entire week painting there.

I also really enjoyed wandering along the docks of the marinas. It was just fascinating. I’ve never been on a boat of any size. Just small, 14 foot fishing boats and canoes but marinas and the moored and docked boats have always been fascinating to me. Maybe because I haven’t been around them much. I’ve always thought painting them would be challenging and fun. I have done a few few from photos I’ve taken as the occasion arose but never on location. Well, I was in my element.

Here I am right down there in the middle of it all and this is the resulting painting.

I really enjoyed this. The sea side restaurants were great, the smell of the ocean was great, the weather was great. The whole experience was great. The only thing that would’ve made it better would to have had Kathy with me. We’ll be going back…soon too.

Speaking of Kathy, if you recall from the last time we visited, she has come to the gallery and is now managing the business and has lifted a huge load from my shoulders allowing me to focus on my art full time. It has been so wonderful, I don’t know why we didn’t do this years ago. It is so nice to have her there on a daily basis. Someone to discuss the uncertainties with and to celebrate the good times with, all first hand. What an asset she has been. Thanks sweetie for joining me.

You might have noticed, with exception of the one acrylic painting I showed you, everything else has been done in watercolor. I have come to using water media, acrylic or watercolor, for the plein air events largely because of convenience. Clean up is easy and I don’t have wet paintings to deal with. That being said, I have always preferred watercolor and the more I do them the more I like the medium. I still do oil paintings back in the studio but for field work, right now anyway, I’m focusing on my watercolors.

This is a topic for another time however. Until then, thanks for following along. I’ll try to be more diligent in my posting.