Sergio Lopez - North SF Bay Area Fine Artist

Upcoming Shows and Events

•Spoke Art: April 7, 2016. "The 5th Annual Moleskine Show." San Francisco, CA.

•Bakersfield Museum of Art: April 9th, 2016. "Kern County Plein Air." Bakersfield, CA.

•Christopher Queen Gallery: May 1st, 2016. "The Golden Hour." Duncans Mills, CA.

•Abend Gallery: May 13th, 2016. "Contemporary Figuration." Denver, CO.

•Paso Arts Fest: May 26th, 2016. "Signature Exhibition." Paso Robles, CA.

•Los Gatos: June 18th, 2016. "Los Gatos Plein Air." Los Gatos, CA.

Sonoma Plein Air: September 10th, 2016 "Sonoma Plein Air." Sonoma, CA.

•Modern Eden Gallery: September 17th, 2016. Beautiful Bizzare Invitational Show. San Francisco, CA.

•Christopher Queen Gallery: October 2nd, 2016. "A Splendid Journey: 40th Anniversary Show." Duncans Mills, CA.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

2013 Plein Air Events In Review

Hello and welcome to the 4th annual yearly plein air event review! I've done this for 3 years now, and if you find it interesting, you may want to check out the other reviews I've done in years past. The main difference this year is that I did 2 new events that are very prestigious and difficult to get into. As I did last year, I will be discussing the pro's and con's of each event.

Carmel Art Festival

Full Recap: HERE


This was my second year of participating in the Carmel Art Festival. This time I was able to take home a prize, so that helped me enjoy it a bit more. The participants were more eclectic this year, with international superstar artists like Hans Versfelt, Roos Schuring, and Marc Dalessio joining the roster. Again, the high quality of art makes everyone want to do their best and impress the judges. Impressing the judges can get you a nice prize, so it's worth it. This is an interesting event in that most of the appeal is the opportunity to win good cash awards. There are weird things about it that seem like there are no signs of the administration changing it, so rather than grumble about it, just accept it for what it is and keep striving for your best painting.

PROS: Some of the most beautiful scenery in Northern California, Potential to attract big-ticket patrons, High quality of fellow artists, good prize money.
CONS: Nonsensical schedule makes your painting time hard to schedule out, short event length,  potential for bad weather, limited exhibition of paintings, impersonal staff makes no effort to connect to artists.

Conclusion: I think that in the past few years I got caught up in trying to put up 2 really impressive pieces for the chance to nab some prize money. However, I think the more financially successful painters focused on creating a body of smaller works that they could fit on the wall and sell quickly. Because it's mostly foot traffic coming by, it's more likely to sell smaller, less expensive works as impulse buys. This is the strategy I'm going to go for in 2014.

Los Gatos Plein Air

Full Recap: HERE


This was also my second year of participating in the Los Gatos Plein Air event. I enjoy the hosts, they do a really good job of treating the artists well, and we usually have good weather for it. This is really the main reason I come back to this event. The sales are still lacking, because they haven't been able to get good traction with their sales yet. I think getting rid of their silent auction during the day of sales can help. Also the colorful umbrellas that cast weird colors on the paintings. Still, I enjoy painting around the area, and always welcome the opportunity to paint there.

PROS - Extremely Generous Hosts, Lots of Parties, Well-Organized, Dedication to Improvement from the Organization, Proximity to Santa Cruz, usually good weather.
CONS - Places to paint are spread out from each other, low amount of sales, Almost no big sales.

Conclusion: This still has potential to be a great event. A lot of money is put into it to get it to the level it is now, but with a few changes I think it could be a better-selling event. I am going to give it another shot in 2014.

Telluride Plein Air

Full Recap: PART 1 - PART 2


This is an event that lives up to the reputation that it's built up over the years of being one of the best plein air events in the country. The staff is friendly, the event is well-run, and sales are plenty. People buy art here, as long as the art is of their beloved town. I wish it was a little easier to sell paintings of the surrounding area, because it's such beautiful country. It's also a bit of a trek for a Californian like me to get there, but I hope to return next year nevertheless. 

PROS: Beautiful Area, Cute Town Location, Good Sales, Potential for High Sales, Friendly Staff, Great Hosts.
CONS: Difficulty for out-of-towners to travel to, unpredictable weather, acclimation to altitude, sales heavily skewed to townscapes vs landscapes.

Conclusion: I hope to return as many times as it takes to get sick of painting Telluride. I hear that takes about 3 years. I do like the new friends I've made there, and hope to see them again next year.

Mendocino Open Paint Out

Full Recap: HERE


For a first-time event, it was pretty successful overall. 70 unjuried artists and yet it wasn't a complete cluster of chaos. Mendocino, although such a naturally beautiful area, is a tough place to sell high-quality art. However, if you can make a bracelet, you might be able to sell it. If you can afford to spend a few days up there (no hosting) you might luck out and get some great sunny days where you can do some quality painting.

PROS: Beautiful Location, Decent Prizes, No Juried Application, Well-run Event For The Size.
CONS: Low-ticket Sales, uneven quality of participants, high potential for gloomy weather, expensive application fee, no provided hosting.

Conclusion:  It remains to be seen whether or not this event gets some good traction. They do a good job of organizing things at the Mendocino Art Center. They just need the right collectors making the trip out there, which is not as easy as you might think.

Sonoma Plein Air

Full Recap: HERE


This event was a dream come true for me. I'd been wanting to participate in the event for the last few years, with it being not only the most prestigious plein air event in Northern California, but right in my backyard, too. Not only did I have fun painting in the event, but I took home the grand prize in my first year of participating! I could not have asked for better, except less rain on the day of sales. Other than that, it's the best you can hope for in a plein air event.

PROS: Great variety in subject matter, Good Sales, Well-Run, Good community support, high-quality participants.
CONS: Not enough preparation for bad weather during outdoor sale event.

Conclusion: Whether or not next year is as successful as this year remains to be seen, but I can't wait to see how it goes for me. Looking forward to September 2014!

Conclusion

This was a very successful year for me for plein air events, both in prizes and sales. I got to travel to new places, and made good impressions in all the new events. The places I returned to I was better prepared for, and the pro's and cons of the events were still there. 2014 will bring in a new year of many repeat events, as well as striving to participate in some of the great events that I've always wanted to compete in. Will I be Easton-bound??

A Few Words On Plein Air Competition

Every so often I hear from other artists about the negative side of plein air competitions. It is usually in the form of criticism of the idea of art mixed with competition. The idea pushed forward is usually that the creation of art and competition are in direct opposition to each other and should not mix. I however, have never tied my ego too tightly around the outcome of an event like this. Maybe it's because I know the next one is around the corner. Even winning an event such as Sonoma, has it changed my life much? Not really. What did I get out of it? I got cash, a plaque, and kudos from my peers. It's good but not enough to put my artistic self-worth on the line for. I think those who don't believe in juries for art are sort of missing the point of why they are there. For me it's an extra incentive to do work beyond what I think I am capable of. By comparing myself to my peers I can gauge where I am to where I think I can be, and where I can realistically expect to be in the future. Some artists don't like to do this comparison. I like it; it keeps me honest. Perhaps those artists who are averse to competition are using art as a bit of an escape from the competition in their daily life. For me this is my life. Competition is a part of life. I try hard to focus on the positives in competition, and let go of the outcome. If you get wrapped up too much in expecting your desired outcome, you will inevitably be disappointed most of the time. Enjoy the good fortune when it happens but don't expect it all the time.
Let me know what your thoughts are on the matter.

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