Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quick Draw

Frank Costantino, one of the organizers of the North Bennington Plein Air Competition, explained the rules for the Quick-Draw event to approximately 40 participating artists.

Paint anywhere in the grounds of the historic Park-McCullough House, start when you hear the bell at 1:30, and stop two hours later.

I was attracted to a 1938 Dodge Pickup. Besides being a gorgeous old truck, I liked the chiaroscuro: light-on-dark on the front end, and dark-on-light on the rear end to the right. I also wanted to feature the reflection of the illuminated grass on the shadow side of the vehicle.

In preparation for the bell, I premixed batches of color with the palette knife to save time later (that was legal).

One half hour into the painting, I drew in the big shapes with a bristle brush and blocked in the grass and background.

Halfway through, I knocked in the basic shadow color of the truck and the building. I was really sweating it at this point, thinking “I’ll never finish!”

I tried to look for similar planes, muttering to myself such things as “upfacing planes in the shadow of the truck.” The goal is to hit all of those similar tones at the same time when I had that color on the brush, rather than wasting time going back with the same thought.

Only a half hour left, I softened some edges, such as along the hood and the top of the cab.

Here is how it looked as the bell rang, with final details: highlights, headlights and hubcaps. Two hours went by in a flash; it’s hard to believe that’s the same amount of time as watching a movie.

Breathing a sigh of relief, we all put our results on easels. Here is Vcevy Strekalovsky, who did a gorgeous painting of the house. I was really inspired by everyone else’s work, and would love to come back again and paint the gardens or the carriage house.

North Bennington Plein Air Competition Quick Draw
Frank Costantino
Vcevy Strekalovsky
More about the 1938 Dodge
Park McCullough House and Estate
Many more pictures of the Quick Draw at Mary Byrom's blog


Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Beautifully done! Did you have any spectators asking questions? That's always a bit annoying when you're in a timed event such as this. Premixing your palette is a great idea.

Dit said...

Great picture, hard to believe that it was done in only two hours! I suppose that years of practice in plein air painting trains the eye to spot similar planes (I'm hopeless at it). Adrenaline seekers, no need for bungee jumping and such, just set yourselves a tight time schedule to produce a complete, detailed painting! :)

Steve said...

I love that one note of bright reflection off the bottom windshield trim. Inspiring work in every way.

Harriet said...

Fabulous, it's a beautiful painting.

Daroo said...

Exciting play by play and nicely done -- I'd still be struggling with the drawing/measuring into the second hour. (Though I suppose while you were premixing your colors you were noticing measurements too.)

I don't usually premix my palette when painting en plein air but it sure would be a good exercise to try and in the case of a quick draw -- a good strategy.

Bil Hardenberger said...

I don't know Jim... seems rushed to me. ;o)

R Kamal said...

just two hours!...amazing painting with fine details.

Mary Byrom said...

What hoot! Love this!... and Vcevy with that number in his hat!

Matthew Gauvin said...


LandPainter said...

For 2 hours that is quite amazing! Way to go!

Max West said...

Painting on the spot within a time limit and in a set there'a cool concept. I tweeted this post BTW - it sounds fascinating.