Recap: 8th Annual Plein Air Convention (Part 1)

Monday, May 06, 2019

Just got back from the 8th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo, at the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco. Third time attending (alum of Monterey and Tucson), first time as faculty. What an amazing experience start to finish!


Wednesday, April 24.
After working a full day at the office, I rushed across town to check into the hotel, pick up my swag bag, and attend the Opening Ceremonies. As always, it was quite a show, and it was so cool to be invited on stage with the other faculty members.

Thursday, April 25.
Started the day at 6:30 AM, at Marketing Boot Camp with Eric Rhoads. This year he focused on social media. There wasn't much I hadn't heard before, but I did come away with more motivation to be intentional and consistent in my posting. I was amazed at how many people in the audience admitted to being unfamiliar with hashtags.

In the morning, I attended some demos, including Brenda Swenson's excellent session on watercolor sketching. I also caught a little bit of Brian Blood's session, where he explained how to capture perspective on the steep San Francisco streets. I then had lunch at Kin Khao at the Parc 55 Hotel, across the street from the Hilton. It's become a favorite in the area, and I even got in a sketch as I waited for my food.

190425 Kin Khao San Francisco

After lunch I watched Randy Sexton block in a painting of a car. I've seen him do this before, when I took his workshop, and he truly has an uncanny ability to visualize exactly where the strokes of color should be to depict the shape of a vehicle without drawing it.

The late afternoon brought a new experience: the organizers had set up an indoor video of Crissy Field (the beach in San Francisco with views of Golden Gate Bridge) for people who didn't want to leave the hotel to go the actual location. I was asked to be one of the "field" faculty in the room. It suited me because I was leading the session right afterward. (Apparently we lucked out, as it was freezing and windy outside on the water.)

The screen with the video wasn't very large, so instead of fighting for space with all the other easels I just pulled up my own photograph of Golden Gate Bridge from my visit there a few weeks ago and painted from that instead.

190425 Golden Gate Bridge SF

Yeah, OK, I'll say it. I hate drawing bridges, with their just-so curves and tendency to look wildly inaccurate with just an errant flick of the brush. Plus, it was super intimidating to sit there trying to draw with some of the world's most accomplished artists around me. To wit: living legend and master pastelist Albert Handell actually looked over my shoulder and said something nice. Squee!

Finally it was 8 pm - time for my focus session, "Urban Sketching for Plein Air Painters." I thought I wouldn't have enough slides prepared, but I ended up speaking for nearly the full hour. I was floored at how many people stopped me afterward to tell me how much they enjoyed the presentation and liked sketching. It was also exciting to hear from people who had taken my class on Craftsy (Bluprint).

Whew! It was a long day, but I was glad my session was over so I could focus on painting and helping others for the rest of the convention.

To be continued...
Read Part 2

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