Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Plein Air Brandywine Valley Spotlight

Plein Air Brandywine Valley 2018
October 28-November 4


I'm among twenty artists featured in the online posting of the Plein Air Brandywine Valley 2018 Spotlight online HERE. And below...

Bruce McMillan, Shapleigh, Maine
Spotlight 09/18/18
How did you first learn of and when did you start painting plein air?
I learned of painting by going to a museum as a youngster, beholding the French impressionists, I saw the results of what portable paints could do, take you anywhere. I was in my sixties, beginning my watercolor journey, when I discovered how watercolors could easily go anywhere.

What has helped you develop as a painter?
My then nine-year-old grandson's advice guides me. When observing a painting he was working on, a gallery scene, a figure standing to the left of a hanging painting, the hanging painting, and then the descriptive label on the wall, not to the right beside the painting but above the painting, I asked him why he'd put the label above the painting. He crossed his arms, looked at me with a frown and explained, "Grampa Bruce, it's a painting; you can do anything." I think of his words every time I paint.

Describe something unusual or challenging that happened when painting outdoors.
It was the end of a day painting plein air in Stonington, Maine. The sun was dropping, and I'd packed it in. Driving along the shore, the light got dramatic, the clear low-in-the-sky sun behind me, late afternoon fall sun streaming into the harbor full of lobster boats, more than any other harbor in Maine. I pulled onto Green Head, beheld the view, so many boats, the light bright, and islands in the distance. I wasn't done for the day, almost an hour of daylight left. The sun was setting so I pulled out a 7" x 5" watercolor block for a quick sketch. But the sight was too breathtaking. I pulled out a huge, full sheet, 30" x 22", and propped my watercolor palette on the rocks. Quickly, I set up my watercolor palette on my tripod, and settled into my folding tripod chair. For the next fifty-five minutes I drew and painted totally focused. I was in the zone, racing against the setting sun. This brief window of time pushed my drawing to be loosely certain, my painting, sure and bold, my brushes flying. It was a fast fifty-five minutes when darkness descended. That painting was selected for the gallery's window at the 2017 ArtinME exhibition in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

I had a similar experience when painting at the 2018 Castine (Maine) Plein Air Festival. With the sun setting I painted two studies of the harbor looking towards Blue Hill. Again, there wasn't much time. I respond well to time constraints. It pushes me. These two paintings were quite satisfying, and both sold at the event.

In 2016 I painted at Brown's Head Light on the north side of Vinalhaven Island. I was into the zone, painting variations of the lighthouse overlooking the Fox Islands Thoroughfare. I posted all but one of the variations on my blog. Later, when submitting to the Port Clyde Art Gallery's Third Annual Invitational 10 x 10 Show, I included the one I'd deemed not good enough to post on my art blog. It was Best in Show, which led me to ponder, are we the best judges of our art?

Can you tell us about some of the settings and places where you have you painted?
I'm drawn to coastal locations, islands and remote places. There aren't many of us painting plein air in Iceland. I painted a plein air view of the landmark hill Stóri Dímon. Fortunately, I had a frame with me. That painting still hangs today, a thank you to my dear friends and hosts, in their summerhouse, having traveled only three-hundred feet from the hill where it was painted to the wall of their summerhouse.

Among the locations I've painted at in Maine are Acadia, Bass Harbor, Boothbay Harbor, Castine, Cliff Island, Cobscook Bay, Criehaven Island, Jonesport, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Monhegan Island, Ogunquit, Owls Head, Rockland, Schoodic, Shapleigh, Stonington, Vinalhaven, York; many locations in northern Vermont; coastal and inland Florida; at Grand Manan Island, Ottawa, and Whitehall Island, Canada; many places all around Iceland, including islands off the coast; Lugano, Switzerland; and Venice.

Why do you paint plein air and what attracts you to compete in Plein Air Brandywine Valley?
I applied to Brandywine because fellow artist Alison Menke recommended it when we were painting at the Castine (Maine) Plein Air Festival 2018 in July. When asked of all the plein air events she's participated in, and she's painted in many, which one was the best, without hesitating she said, "Brandywine, Bruce you must do it."

Share anything about PABV or about you as a painter that others will find interesting.
My background, an honored fortunate career in children's books, forty-three of forty-five photo-illustrated, fine-tuned my way of looking at things through a camera's lens while traveling up and down the world, from up in Iceland and Alaska, and down to Antarctica. Thus, my journey with watercolors has a visual basis, but is a complete departure from the pictorial to the freedom of painting, and painting loosely, keeping it fresh.

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Tuesday October 30, 2018
Marshalton Inn, 1300W. Strasburg Road, West Chester, PA
Artists at work 4-6 pm, and 6-8 pm browse the finished artwork

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November 1, 2018
The NOCTURNE, a special event during Plein Air Brandywine Valley 2018
Artists create their works at night in West Chester, Pennsylvania
Awards to be given for the best painting and photograph
Brief video featuring the Nocturne (1:32) HERE
The music is, hmm, amusing. I had no idea that painting at night could be so dramatic.

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The Plein Air Brandywine Valley Opening Reception, tickets only, is on Friday, November 2, 2018 at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library HERE. It will continue Saturday and Sunday, Nov 3-4, open to the public.

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The twenty artists featured in the spotlight are:
Mick McAndrews, Downingtown, Pennsylvania, watercolor
Jacalyn Beam, Greenville, Delaware, oil
Don Shoffner, Narberth, Pennsylvania, watercolor
Daniel Jay Freed, West Chester, Pennsylvania, oil
Lois W. Sellers, Springfield, Pennsylvania, photography
Cynthia Rosen, Vermont, oil
Annie Strack, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, oil
J. Stacy Rogers, Lewes, Delaware, oil
Jim Salvas, West Chester, Pennsylvania, photography
Julie Riker, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, oil
Henry Coe, Parkton, Maryland, oil
Ellen Gavin, Millville, New Jersey, oil
Carol L. Douglas, Rockport, Maine, oil
Randall Graham, West Chester, Pennsylvania, oil
Bruce McMillan, Shapleigh, Maine, watercolor
Beth Bathe, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, oil
Debra Howard, Crisfield, Maryland, oil
Judy McCabe Jarvis, Flourtown, Pennsylvania, oil
Al Richards, Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, oil and watercolor
Lissa Abrams, Baltimore, Maryland, oil

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