Sergio Lopez - North SF Bay Area Fine Artist

Upcoming Shows and Events

-April: Braving The Elements - Landscape Group Show, Robert Lange Studios, Charleston, SC.
•Indelible - Group Show, Alexi Era Gallery, St. Louis, MO.
-May: "California Light" - Landscapes. Christopher Queen Gallery, Duncans Mills, CA.
•May 15-18: Carmel Art Festival
•May 21-24: Paso Robles Art Festival
-September 2014: Sergio Lopez/Mia Bergeron - Robert Lange Studios, Charleston, SC.
-October 2014: "The Traveling Painters," 3-Person Show - Christopher Queen Gallery, Duncans Mills, CA.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 Plein Air Events in Review

Welcome to my 3rd Annual Plein Air Events In Review series for 2012! I enjoy writing about the events I participate in for the curious would-be competitive plein air painter. I did quite a few less events this year than I did in the last few years before. Although I did do a few new events this year, I stayed mostly in California, so if you're outside of the area, this may come in handy if you are hoping to apply for next year. The main difference this year was my participation in higher-caliber events instead of just any event that seemed convenient. It was a learning experience in many ways. I averaged 1 event a month, so I divided this post by month.

May:

Winters Plein Air Festival

Shaunie Briggs was an incredibly generous coordinator who did a lot for us artists. She made sure the word got out locally. Her business as well as her own self is very well-appreciated in the community for good reason. She even cooked the artists an awesome dinner on the opening night of the reception! The problem with having an event in such an out-of-the-way area is that you just aren't going to get enough big-spender patrons to come out your way unless you have really well-known artists participating in the event. Because it was a locally-focused, non-juried event without any prizes, it was tough to attract real collectors to the event. It is in a really scenic area with a lot of great places to paint. I would participate again but probably wouldn't spend the entire week out there.

PROS - Most Generous Coordinator, Local Advertisement Successful, Interesting Subject Matter
CONS - Somewhat Bad Lighting (gallery), Relatively Isolated Area, Lack of Big-Spender Patrons, Low Opening Night Sales

Carmel Art Festival

The Carmel Art Festival was quite a grueling event, in a good way. This event had the highest-caliber of participating artists, and therefore inspired me to try and create the best plein air paintings I could possibly do. It's in Carmel, a place with world-class beauty, so there is no shortage of great places to paint. Carmel is also known to be one of the nation's top art-towns, and this event is the longest-running one out there. There are some great prizes up for grabs, which is what I believe keeps the plein air heavy-hitters coming back.


A few things I believe could be improved. Since the event does not host the artists, there is no real reason to give such a short deadline. I believe the art could be even better with a few more than the 2.5 days given to create our paintings. There should be an indoor component to the reception sometime during the exhibition. The weather in Northern California in May is so unpredictable that if the outdoor exhibition takes place during a rainstorm, the results could be disasterous for sales. Even though there are some big-ticket patrons, the silent auction thing I think drops the potential for more big sales. There are always a couple of paintings that end up in bidding wars, but I think more people would sell more paintings without it. I would absolutely come back to this event, even with some big issues I have with it. The competitive aspect of it pushes you to do your absolute best within the tough constraints, and it's always amazing to see what other painters do, and that is worth it to me.

PROS - Some of the most beautiful scenery in Northern California, Potential to attract big-ticket patrons, High quality of artists motivates you to do your best, prestigious reputation
CONS - Rushed feeling(not enough days) creates pressure to paint, Small Exhibition Space, Unpredictable weather(possibly sabotages outdoor event), Impersonal staff makes no effort to connect to artists.

June:

Los Gatos Plein Air

This event is nothing if not pure fun! The hosts are all super-generous, especially my host, Pam Murphy, who was one of the organizers of the event. They love to party, and love to share wine and food. They care about the event and the artists very much, and are trying hard to make the event better. This was my first year participating in the event but I had heard this was a good fun event to apply for, and exceeded my expectations in that aspect. I did like that they expanded the painting perimeter this year to as far as you wanted to go. The furthest I went however, was Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz. There is a lot to paint in the area, depending on what you're into, but the best places are spread out from each other. Sales were better than some events but not as good as some others. Although almost everyone sold something, there were almost no big sales. I only sold one piece, but looking back, I only did a few paintings I was that satisfied with in retrospect. The potential to sell well is there, but the big collectors haven't yet been enticed to show up and buy just yet. There is a lot of money in the neighborhood, but there is also a lot of partying. If art purchases cut into the budget for festivities, it might be a tough nut to crack. If it were possible to keep the paintings up for display longer than one day, sales might improve as well.

PROS - Extremely Generous Hosts, Lots of Parties, Potential to Attract Wealthy Patrons, Well-Organized, Dedication to Improvement from the Organization, Well-Attended Receptions, Close Proximity to Many Parks/Views, Cute Town Location, Almost everyone sold something.
CONS - Places to paint are spread out from each other, Relatively low amount of sales, Almost no big sales.

July:

Alameda Plein Air Paintout

As I said when I first wrote about this event, Alameda is a weird place to hold a plein air painting event. The scenery nor the “scene” is all that conducive to plein air, but if you are up for painting some different urban scenery, there is some cool stuff. They most likely won't buy it, but it's fun as hell to paint. I did a lot of paintings that other artists were into, but for some reason, little old ladies don't want paintings of shipping cranes and gunboats. Who knew?? Because it's a home to some old naval bases, I was hoping some old veteran might want a painting of that sort of thing. I tried hard to push the boundaries of what the average person thinks of plein air, but it might be too early to get people into it enough to want to buy these more risky works. The Frank Bette Center is working hard to keep operational, but the budget is razor-thin and relies heavily on volunteers. Therefore, there is a bit of disorganization that runs through everything and spills into the event a bit. I am wishing nothing but success for the Frank Bette Center. It provides artistic opportunity in an area that is lacking such.

PROS - Variety of subject matter, interesting buildings and local historical landmarks, easy-to-navigate area, good hosts and organizers, supportive community, fun people,
CONS - Lack of Natural Beauty in the Locale, relative disorganization/lack of communication, Lack of big-ticket sales.

August:

Pacific Northwest Plein Air

This event continues to be one of my favorites to do, just because it's in such a beautiful area of the country and the painters I have met up there are so much fun to paint with. Northern Oregon has so many plein air painters. You would think that because there is so much rain year-round that it wouldn't be the case, but the scenery is so pretty that when the sun is out, there is always something worth painting. The organizers of the event continue to do a good job. This is one of the few events I participate in that actually display the paintings in a gallery. The show looks so much better this way, and I wish there were more events that were able to. Plein air seems not to catch on in the area in terms of collecting overall, but the tide might slowly be turning. The Portland Art Museum did a show of Early Califonia Landscape Painters, so I hope it creates more of a hunger for plein air in the area.

PROS - Gorgeous Scenery, Great Camraderie Between Artists, Well-Organized, Paintings Are Well-Displayed In A Gallery,
CONS - Event Planner-Chosen Places To Paint Are Hit-Or-Miss, Low Amount of Sales

I am hoping to go more outside of my area next year to participate in events that are new to me and in areas that I have been wanting to paint more. In my research and through different avenues, I have compiled a list of my own that's sort of a “wishlist” of events. Some of these I hope to take part in next year. I would love to do an event in the Wyoming/Idaho area, The Rockies, and the Southwest. I would also like to try an East Coast event as well. Here is a list you can use as reference for your own research:

Carmel Art Festival (Mid-May)
Crested Butte Invitational (Early-Mid June)
Easels in Frederick (Mid-June)
Plein Air Richmond (Mid-June)
Telluride Plein Air Festival (Late June-Early July)
Art in the Greens, Cashiers, NC (Mid July)
Driggs Digs Plein Air (Late July)
Door County Plein Air Invitational (Late July)
Prairies To Peaks: Wyoming (Early August)
Plein Air Rockies - Estes Park (Mid-August)
Grand Canyon Plein Air on the Rim (Early September)
North Tahoe Plein Air (Mid-September)
Everett Ruess Days - Escalante Utah (Late September)
Moab Plein Air (Utah) (Early October)
San Luis Obispo (Early October)
Sedona Plein Air (Late October)
Zion Plein Air Invitational (Early November)


Keep in mind some of these are invitational as well, so they come with their own set of application processes.

Search on my blog for the “plein air event yearly review” tag to find my reviews from past years.


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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Demos And Accolades

This week I did a short talk and demo on gesture drawing. Marcy Silveira from The Art Workshops of Western Sonoma County(http://awsomeart.org/) approached me and asked me what I wanted to do. After a bit of back and forth, I decided that gesture drawing was what I wanted to demonstrate for a such a limited block of time afforded to me. The demo lasted for about an hour and a half, more or less.

I came in there with notes, but I didn't really have the script in my head. I brought notes with me that I had to look at, mostly in the beginning. I started off with my thoughts on why gesture drawing is important. I quickly started running out of things to say and thus started floundering a bit. If this happens to you, it means you should start drawing.
I got into explaining why I use the tools I use, what I look for when I draw quick poses, how to simplify, and a few different approaches. Once I started drawing, it was way easier to let the information come out. You start out thinking, "how am I going to fill all this time?" and end up saying, "there is so much more information I could have said!" It was a learning experience, attempting to explain what I know in a clear and concise manner. Effective teaching takes practice. The thing is, the only way to practice is in front of a bunch of other willing participants. If they are paying money, you want them to go away satisfied. Of course you can't please everyone all the time, but all you can do is your best.

There were a couple of mishaps, of course. Why wouldn't there be. The lighting was not ideal for light and shadow. The flourescent lighting was ok to make sure everything gets even light, which is terrible for drawing. The halogen light provided on the stand wasn't the best for the situation. They tried to put a cover on the light  to reduce the harshness, but the bulb burned right through it! Then the flimsy stand got tipped over, almost falling on the model! That would have been a disaster! More careful consideration will be given to the set-up next time.


This demo has inspired me to release the notes I used for it. I am planning on releasing them in a special way so sign up for my newsletter if you have not done so already.

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Big news for me in terms of promotion! I am in the November 2012 issue of Southwest Art Magazine as an artist to watch! In school I always looked at magazines and the artists inside of them. There was an air of prestige that I gave those artists just because they were published. I assumed they were all successful artists with careers I couldn't comprehend. It makes me feel like I am making it, to have ink about me. This is a big milestone in my career and I am happy to share the news with you all.

Go Read The Article Here

If anyone wants to buy the magazine and let them know my article is the reason they picked it up, it would be doing me a huge favor!
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