Thursday, August 20, 2015

NC Open Plein Air Paint Out

Last weekend was the NC Open Plein Air Paint Out in Salisbury, North Carolina. I signed up because it was fairly close by, and there was a nice campground in the immediate painting sites area that allowed pets which meant Steve and Fry could accompany me. This is definitely a do-not-miss event for plein air painters. The huge variety of painting locations are lovely and the "goody bag" we received at check-in was very nice. It included the usual maps and restaurant guides and various printed informational brochures. But it also contained a small watercolor set with some gorgeous colors in it, a pencil/eraser/sharpener set with a good sized sketchbook, and even a hat!
I knew the Piedmont of North Carolina had some nice rural scenery, but I was quite simply amazed at just how beautiful this area is! I unfortunately only had one day available to paint, and it was a challenge to select just two locations from the variety of choices including dams, wineries, old homesteads, parks, lakes, etc. We ended up camping at Dan Nicholas Park Campground in a very secluded and private wooded site. This campground is right next to the Dan Nicholas Park itself which contains a variety of activities and features, but I was particularly drawn to the lake where there was a wooden bridge crossing over masses of waterlilies. Water birds, including beautiful white ducks and the occasional heron, frequented the lake as well. I elected to paint a portion of the bridge where it exited onto the trail across the lake next to a gorgeous tree with an intricate trunk growing out of the water itself.
My best little plein air buddy took an early break to walk around the lake with Steve, but then returned to rest next to my easel while I finished up this first painting.
The early morning light was rapidly changing, so I had to paint quickly, but this time I had to work even more quickly than I usually do, so I would have time to go to Dunn's Mountain and paint my second work and still have time to frame everything and get to the reception by mid afternoon!
© 2015 Tammy Kaufman - Dan Nicholas Bridge - soft pastels on Pastelmat 8" x 10"
Dunn's Mountain Park proved to be an excellent choice of painting location. The staff there really made our visit memorable. They were quite knowledgeable about the old quarry and the history of the area. One of them was an artist as well, and we had a delightful time chatting while I painted. I elected to paint from the observation deck itself since I wanted to capture some of the expansive view of the quarry and retaining pond below as well as the views out across Salisbury all the way toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. The park staff told me on clear days you could actually see the distinctive profiles of Pilot and Grandfather Mountains, but today there was quite a thick layer of haze which amazingly completely occluded any evidence of the mountains themselves! Staying true to my plein air experience, I painted what I actually saw, which on this day unfortunately did not include the well defined higher peaks of the distant mountains due to the hazy skies. But the view was amazing nonetheless.
© 2015 Tammy Kaufman - Dunn's Mountain Vista - soft pastels on UArt 8" x 10"
I did manage to get both paintings done, framed and delivered on time for the opening reception.
All in all, we had a wonderful time, seeing old friends and meeting new ones, and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the North Carolina Piedmont. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and I'm already looking forward to next year's event!