M. Stephen Doherty

M. Stephen Doherty
The editor of Plein Air magazine at work

Monday, September 27, 2010

Florida Watercolor Society Convention

 Jack Nolan (jacknolan-watercolorist.com) participating in the 
paint around.

 Sue Allen (sueallenart.com) demonstrating her painting techniques.

 Taylor Ikin (taylorikin.com) demonstrating painting on Yupo paper.

Vilas Tonape a professor at Polk State College, demonstrating 
portrait painting

The Florida Watercolor Society (www.floridawatercolorsociety.org) staged another exciting, informative, and fun convention this past weekend at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Innisbrook, Florida. The program included painting demonstrations, slide lectures, an exhibition opening, and an awards banquet. The annual exhibition was judged by Carrie Burns Brown, and she gave the Susan Lattner Lloyd Gold Award to Susan Hanssen.   

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Plein Air at the Grand Canyon: Sales

Evaluating Sales During the Recent Grand Canyon 
Celebration of Art

                                   First Prize Winner Cody DeLong
After looking carefully at the paintings on display in the Kolb Studio along the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, I came to some conclusions about sales of plein air paintings created during a week long event that was part of the Celebration of Art (September 11 - September 18, 2010). I reached these conclusions after considering why some paintings sold immediately, some were acquired during the run of the exhibition, and a few will probably not sell at all. 
I should explain these are my own conclusions and may not reflect the opinions of other participating artists, collectors, sponsors, or judges. I welcome comments from any of those folks, as well as from artists who have participated in similar events. 
The obvious point to be made is that when a plein air event is held at a location that is a landmark, historic site, national treasure, natural phenomenon, or source of local pride, patrons are most likely to buy paintings they feel accurately represent the place. Those can be works that range from tightly detailed presentations of the most emblematic scenes to paintings that capture the emotional, atmospheric, or personal aspects of the place. 
At the GCCA event, several artists challenged themselves to find scenes that were unexpected, personal, or interpretive. In general, those failed to sell. The most popular images were those that depicted the well known peeks in ways that captured the dramatic lighting, vast space, and geological phenomena of the canyon.
The next big factor influencing sales was pricing. The work that sold fastest was prices in the range of $5 - $8 per square inch, whereas the pieces that sold most slowly or not at all were priced in the $10 - $13 per square inch range (including frames). 
Let me quickly mention that I am not factoring in the artistic merits of the drawings and paintings exhibited in the Kolbe Studio because in every case the works created by the 28 participating artists was of a very high technical and aesthetic quality. If that hadn’t been the case, as so often happens in outdoor painting events, I would be the first to point out that poorly executed paintings are not likely to sell at any price, especially if they present the favored landmarks in an amateurish manner. 
In general, people who are actively looking to buy paintings are confident in their own judgements, but they can be influenced by the decisions of the judges. The four award winners in the GCCA event sold almost all of their paintings, in part because the judges’ decisions confirmed the positive opinions  people had about the artwork. 
Most of the artists who participated in the GCCA event live in the Southwest and are known for painting regional landscapes in general and the Grand Canyon in particular. Moreover, those artists are familiar to regional collectors because they participate in other plein air events, museum exhibitions, and gallery shows. The artists who traveled from California, New York, and Utah were less likely to be known. However, their paintings did lend variety and interest to the exhibition, and collectors responded to the fact those artists brought a different style and interpretation to the subject matter. 
A number of buyers at the GCCA event came specifically to add a painting to their collection by one of the better known artists such as Curt Walters, Merrill Mahaffey, and Bruce Aiken. That’s probably the reason the quick draw paintings by Gregory Hull and P.A. Nisbet sold for prices well above the average. Astute collectors knew they were getting a bargain even when they paid the highest prices in the live auction. 
Although most of the participating artists worked in oil, as is so often the case in plein air events, those who did drawings or painted in watercolor or acrylic sold works for comparable prices. 
It should be noted that the Grand Canyon event was extremely well organized and promoted, the artists were treated as the stars of the event, and the staff and board members were totally supportive of the celebration. In fact, a number of GCA board members helped sponsor the event and bought paintings. All of that contributed to the overall success of the event. 
It is also worth mentioning that last year many paintings sold after the opening weekend events, and the show will be hanging through Thanksgiving this year. The park expects as many as 10,000 visitors to view the exhibition in Kolbe Studio, especially during the Thanksgiving holiday when the number of park visitors is quite high. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Award Winners National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society

NOAPS Presiden Ken Gerardy and me with Elizabeth Robbins' Best of Show winner.

The awards I selected in the Best of America 2010 Extraordinary Painting in Oil and Acrylic show sponsored by The National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society (www.noaps.com) were announced this weekend at the Ella Carouthers Dunnegan Gallery of Art in Bolivar, Missouri (on view through October 10). The show will travel to the Katy Depot Historic Site in Sedalia, Missouri (October 11-30), the Etta and Joseph Miller Performing Arts Center in Jefferson City, Missouri (November 2-13), and the Stone Creek Mall in Osage Beach, Missouri (November 15-30).

NOAPS Founders' Endowment Fund "Best of Show" Award: Elizabeth Robbins for "Hydrangeas, Copper and Cantaloupe."

Platinum Palette Award to Rulei Bu for "Annapolis Spring."

The Gustafson Art and Education Fund "Best of Light and Color" Award to Charles Harrington for "Path to Pavillion #6."

The Janet Ross Commemorative Fund "Most Realistic Landscape" Award to Cecy Turner for "Late Afternoon Solace."

Lake Arts Council "Trendsetter" Award to Ron Ferkol for "After Work."

"Best Portrait" Award to Jian Wu for "Asami in a Blue Kimono."

"Best Still Life" Award to Ann Hardy for "Samovar and Cup."

Bank Star One Galaxy Club "Rising Star of the Galaxy" Award to Esperanza Chavez for "Out to Pasture."

Monteverde Memorial Fund "Best Impressionist Painting" Award to Paula Holtzclaw for "Evening Shadows."

The Ragar Award for Creativity to Sharon Warren for "Earth and Water."

The Narrative Excellence Award to Del-Bouree Bach for "Working the Tides."

The Best Landscape Award to Barbara Nuss for "Shawnee Valley."

Congratulations to all the exhibiting artists and winners!