We had a tremendous response to the Gas Station Challenge. I put out a call a few weeks ago for you to paint a gas station on location in black and white gouache. One of the reasons I suggested that subject was because I figured no one would have any such painting already completed.
Thanks to everyone who took part. You braved biting flies, extreme heat, rain, and station owners who were suspicious or who thought you were crazy. Some of you painted outdoors for the first time, or painted in gouache for the first time. And there were some old pros stepping up to the plate.
It was really hard to pick the winners, but here 'goes.
The Grand Prize Winner is Randy Raak's painting of the "Dino Mart" in Golden, Colorado. I would have loved this one even without the dinosaur because it captures such a sense of place, with the new retail construction on the hills above the station. The perspective is really good, and the values are carefully observed. Translating bright colors into gray tones is a challenge.
Randy says "The painting is 9" x 11" on 140# rough watercolor paper, completed 100% on location during five, two hour sessions."
3 Honorable Mention Winners
Olivier Martin is one of three Honorable Mentions for this interesting study of a Parisian gas station.
He had a lot of complicated forms and lettering to sort out, and he did so with real affection for the detail.
He said that it was hard to find a quiet place to paint in Paris, and that his position was a "little bit strange for people who pass on the street, but next to this tree I was in calm."
Eelis Kyttänen for his boat fueling station. He picked an unusual subject and viewpoint. He carefully observed the values of the shadow side of the building, which makes the lighting very convincing.
But just to show that not all paintings have to be highly detailed, I'm giving the third Honorable Mention to Dave Lebow for this pump study (below). I like the way he described the curving forms of the modern pump catching the shimmery hot light from the surrounding environment.
This is a good example of the selectivity you can get with gouache. He focused on the pump, and did some of his drawing over the opaque paint. He softened the edges of the distant buildings and trees. It's an artistic effect without calling attention to itself.
Soft edges take conscious effort in gouache, especially if you use full opaques in the hot sun. I also like the way he included a vehicle, knowing how briefly they stay next to pumps.
Pictures of Merit
Braelyn Snow did this study of a single pump. She chose to remove it from the surroundings so that she could spend her time focusing on the variety of surface textures, including the reflection of the hose on the chrome side.
Daniel New also chose to concentrate on a single pump. That way he could describe the decaying plastic covering the advertising sign, the bent metal pieces, and the eroded stickers.
In the part-way finished painting, you can see how he built a lot of those details over flat base tones.
I was surprised how many of you painted from your cars, but judging from the droplets on the window, this was a rainy day.
Jared Cullum captured the full scene with all its detail: the signs, the plantings, and even the cars. The result gives a strong feeling of being there.
He deserves special commendation for doing the painting while babysitting and adapting the stroller into an easel.
Matt Sterbenz painted this night scene. I find this study moody and compelling, with the solid black night sky on the right, and the glow of light under the canopy raising the values of all the darks. It feels like a weird space station, and it would be fun to go back there with full color.
Like a spy, Matt dresses in black and works from his car in a super portable setup. He's kind of a night-painting ninja who might strike anywhere anytime!
Evidently, Larry Kitchen has a lot of experience with gouache. He lays down those lines very professionally and gets the perspective right.
This painting by Nicholas Elias picks up on the weird forms of the superstructure above the pump, with all those fire prevention nozzles.
And it looks like he's got a cool palette rig to hold the sketchbook vertically.
Finally, Jeff Simutis, an experienced architectural painter, painted this old gas station. Nice relaxed handling throughout, with a lot of affection for that false front.
Jeff is using a gray scale called Rankin's Perception Kit that helps in judging values.
Thanks again to everyone for taking on the challenge. There are a lot more entries, and you can see them all at the Facebook event page. I'll be contacting Randy, Olivier, Eelis, and Dave about getting their "Department of Art" prize patches.
By the way, does it work for everyone to upload your entries directly to a Facebook event page? That would save me a lot of work and make these more do-able for the future.