I Sold a Painting!

I posted a couple of weeks ago that I’d entered two pieces in the Falls Church Arts Plein Aire Contest.  Neither of them won prizes, but I learned today that my painting of the Mad Fox Brewing Company (our local brew pub) sold on the morning the show opened and was the first painting in the show to be sold! That’s kind of like winning, isn’t it?

Mad Fox

It’s not my favorite painting, but part of that is because I’m partial to landscapes more than cityscapes. Still, art speaks to people in different ways.  I’m thrilled that this painting meant enough to someone for them to purchase it.    Apparently others inquired as well, which is very flattering.

I really enjoyed painting it.  It has a story because it got rained on the first day and I had to repaint most of it.  I was self-conscious at first but people were curious and very nice. I guess I’ll have to do it again and see if I can repeat my success.

This is a really big step for me. I’ve been validated.  Can I quit my day job yet?

Falls Church Arts 2015 Plein Aire Competition

Every year Falls Church Arts has a plein aire painting competition in the Spring.  To be eligible, paintings must be done between April and June and they must be done outside on location, within the City of Falls Church.  Artists register to participate and then they must have their supports (canvas, paper, etc.) stamped by Falls Church Arts before painting.

Last year I registered, but I didn’t actually put anything in the show. The only plein aire painting I’d done prior to that time was in an “Art in the Parks” class I took with Jennifer Schoechle about ten years earlier.  I did one painting of my friend Susan’s house.  I was very self-conscious about painting outside among crowds, so I decided Susan’s front yard, which was protected by a hedge, provided the privacy I needed.  The painting did not meet my expectations, so I didn’t enter it.

This year I registered again.  The one big thing that’s changed since last year is that I’ve gotten over some of my self-consciousness. I don’t really care if people watch me paint now. That’s a big step. As a result, I’m starting to do a little more plein aire painting.

That said, there are many other challenges.  Falls Church is pretty urban.  I’m much better at painting nature thank I am man-made objects.  I have challenges with straight edges, corners, perspective, etc.  Nature is much more forgiving when it comes to those things.  Urban scenes also have people in them.  Learning to draw people takes a lot of practice.  I took a portrait painting class more than ten years ago, also from Jennifer Schoechle, but I haven’t drawn people since.

This year I have two paintings that I’m going to actually enter.  As it turns out, I don’t really like either one much.  They are very primitive (that’s my nice way of saying that the perspective is bad and the people are not very good).  I’m entering them anyway because I want to support my art community with my participation.

The first painting, is of the Mad Fox Brewing Company, a local watering hole on the first floor of a retail/residential building.  I wrote about this a few weeks ago, because in my first session I got rained on which took quite a toll on the painting.  I got a chance to do a second session where I first repaired the damage and then I finished the work.  This painting is 12 x 9 oil on canvas board.
Mad Fox

The second painting I did yesterday at the Tinner Hill Blues Festival.  This festival is held every year in Cherry Hill Park in Falls Church.  I started the painting early before there were too many people there.  I did try to capture this one guy who shows up and dances every year, along with a few other people sitting around watching the early acts.  I did this in oil pastel, which is not a medium I have much practice working in. It was a good choice on this occasion because it is not liquid, making it easier to transport and use in a crowded environment.  This piece is 10 x 8.
Tinner Hill 2015

These will both be on display with the show at the Falls Church City Hall and then at Artspace.  I’ve seen a few of the other pieces and they are lovely.  Next year I expect to be even better at this.  Now if we only had some mountains in Falls Church.

Falls Church Arts All-Members Show

I have two pieces appearing in the Falls Church Arts 12th Annual All-Members Art Show. The show runs from April 10th through May 17th at the FCA gallery located in ArtSpace Falls Church, 410 S. Maple Avenue, Falls Church, VA 22046.

Three Ridges in Autumn

Three Ridges in Autumn

Sunset at Zozo's

Sunset at Zozo’s



Green Show at Falls Church Arts

Two of my submissions to the upcoming Green Show at Falls Church Arts have been accepted. The interpretation of “green” is left up to the artist.  I chose landscapes, although one of them is not very green.  I also consider my paintings to be eco-friendly because I use water mixable oils.

The first I painted last Spring.  It’s a view from the Devil’s Knob overlook in Wintergreen where everything was green and the red buds were blooming.

3 Ridges Spring sm

The second is a painting I did a few months ago from a photo I took on the Skyline Drive in the Fall of 2013.

Autumn on the Skyline Drive 2014 sm

The show is at Art Space in Falls Church located at 410 South Maple Avenue, Falls Church, VA 22046.   It opens on February 12th and I plan to attend the opening night reception.  It runs through March 8th.

Classes with Jean Barrett and My First Show

Around the time I got serious about starting to paint again I met my friend Dede Haas for drinks.  I knew Dede through my networking activities while I was running my company.  She is a consultant to technology companies specializing in channel sales, but she took a couple of years off while back to explore her love of photography. Her work is fabulous. Dede also lives near me and when we met she told me I should get involved with Falls Church Arts.

I decided to enroll in a class taught by Jean Marie Barrett called painting from the inside out. The premise was painting scenes looking out through windows and doors.  It was a fun and challenging class and served the purpose of getting me back into painting again.  Painting with Jean also served to build my confidence. Whenever I would cower in my lack of ability she would simply tell me I had the skills to do something and I should just do it.

I painted two paintings in that class.  Interestingly enough, they were both from photos taken at Il Casale di Mele on a trip to Umbria Italy a few years ago.  The first one is looking out the kitchen window.  That’s my friend Sophie at the counter.  This was my first painting in the class.  In my opinion it’s not very good, but it did serve to get me back into practice.
Sophie at Il Casale di Mele sm

The second piece I did is one of my best paintings ever.  I’m not sure I would have even attempted it if it had not been for the confidence Jean instilled in me.  This was done from a favorite photograph from the trip looking out a huge plate glass window from the dining room into the garden.

Il Casale di Mele sm

At Jean’s suggestion, I timidly entered it into the Falls Church Arts All Members Show (Spring 2014).  It didn’t win anything, but I was quite proud.  This was my first show.


Butterflies inspire me.  They are delicate and colorful and beautiful.  When I started painting I had some photographs of butterflies and decided they would be great subjects.  I did my very first butterfly pictures in regular acrylic paints on paper.  Acrylic was all I had and I hadn’t really explored other alternatives.  They came out well, but the acrylic paint was heavy on the paper.

Old Butterflies 2 sm Old Butterflies 1 sm

Around the same time, my sister told me about gouache.  She had done a painting for me from a trip we took together to Germany and it is gouache and pencil. I’ve always loved the look and thought the paint looked sheer and classy.  I decided to try my next butterfly in gouache.

What is so fun about painting a butterfly is getting into the patterns on the wings.  The good news is that they don’t match exactly.  If they did, my engineer’s brain would obsess about getting them to match and I’d never be able to finish the painting.  I really liked my swallowtail that I did in gouache.  I scanned it in and still use it as letterhead for my personal stationery and cards.

Old Butterflies 3 sm

A few years ago after several years of not painting at all I was struggling to get my eye and my technique back.  I decided that I needed to do some butterflies.   The good news is that there’s not a huge time commitment.  The gouache is tidy so there’s minimal set up and clean up and you can focus your time on doing the painting.  For these more recent butterflies I used gouache but did most of the black on the wings with ink.  I recently entered these in the Loving Life show (October 2014) at Falls Church Arts.  They did not win anything nor did they sell, but they got a nice spot right by the door.  I was also proud that they were selected, as this was my first curated show.