The notes below were written on January 5th, but I waited until after the contest ended to post it. In a past post, I was commissioned to paint for several days around the city of Columbus, TX to get people in the artsy mood for the Folk Fest that weekend. Turns out a lady, Mrs. Vidaurri, from Fulshear, TX saw me painting and found my Facebook page (StephenWilliamsonArt). She messaged me that if interested, she’d submit my FB page as a portfolio to the Arts Fulshear committee to see if they’d invite me to enter the 2014 Plein Air competition. Absolutely! Here’s my account of two days of very cold plein air painting on Jan 4 and 5th:
Jan 4th: Around 12:30, I drove to “downtown” Fulshear. I took a Google maps virtual tour beforehand, and this shortened my need to find a good scene. Setting up the easel, I sketched 10min then started on the canvas. Bike riders were everywhere! Some event? Cars rolled in and parked in my view, hmm. Another artist showed up, Chuck Rawle. Said he’d been painting for a number of years and wished I was local so we could do some landscape plein air. He usually doesn’t do town scenes either, but we were both having a good time trying. Mrs. Garcia, event coordinator, showed up took a pic and said the bikers show up every weekend because Fulshear is a halfway way point of Sugarland and Katy and has good food here … good info to maybe add a bike into the painting? Chuck popped up his french easel right in the perfect spot wearing a cowboy hat. I snapped a ref pic for later. Thanks, Chuck!
2:30 clouds really rolled in. Windy northern was here, and it was cold! The kind of cold that makes it hard to sit still. A policeman showed up to see what was up and chat a bit. Nice guy. I tried to talk plainly, but with chattering lips and a bad day for speech, he looked me kinda funny. 40 min later, police woman showed up to chat. Ha. Nice lady. This is a small town! 4:00. By now I’m struggling to get the linear perspective right and things look “off” somehow. Chuck stopped and visited a bit before heading out. Sure hope we get to paint sometime. Cool guy. (link to Chuck’s website) 4:30 it already getting darker and I’m really having trouble now. 5:00 the cars finally move and I jot down some last brushstrokes hoping to ease the pain of the growing disaster on my canvas.
Jan 5th: 8:00am: woke up to howling winds outside. Wow. It’s cold. That northern is here. Do I really need to go?? It may not even make it into the contest. On the other hand, a buddy from my Google+ Plein air community (that would be you Matt) just painted in 0 degree weather. It’s only going to be 35, right? Two t-shirts, two poofy fleeces, one leather coat, a fleece wind proof fleece cap – I’m ready for battle and step outside. It’s really thick with snow clouds outside and a bird overhead was flying into the wind, moving backward, turned 180 and shot off like a rocket. Hmm. Is this sane?
10am in Fulshear: Its cold and getting colder, looks like a ghost town today, nobody is out, however, no cars to block the view! Very windy, the acrylics are very thick and the fingers are not working well. Plus, I have a very bad case of numb butt (stand up slowly). 12pm: people roll in the eat at Ray’s (the scene I’m painting) which packs the car lot. Sun finally peaked through the clouds and people passing by rolled down the window just enough to keep the heat in, but stick out their hand for a thumbs up. Two couples asked about prints! Ahh, encouragement is a very good thing! The best was a lady that looked just like Queen Elizabeth and spoke with a thick British accent “oh, lovely. Quite lovely, indeed.”. The gentleman with her commented on my fingers looking purple and shaking. “Frostbite!”, he insisted. It was time to wrap things up.
Finished off very chilled, but happy with the painting. Worth it!!
Turns out I won! I just got back from an Art’s and Drafts event at Ray’s that was a great success. I shared stories about a few paintings and even sold three and a plein air sketch. It was definitely a bucket list experience! Here’s a quick “featured artist” article from the Arts Fulshear website. Oh, if you are near Houston, April 26th and like to plein air paint, there’s an “open call” (see here) to the Art Walk. It’d be great exposure for you from onlookers and it’d be fun to get together and paint! Hope to see you out there! Thanks, Mrs. Garcia and Mrs. Viduarri!