People are working very hard to find ways to do their job as well as in pre-COVID days. That includes my fellow artists at Cape Elizabeth Paint for Preservation.
|Zeb Cove, by Carol L. Douglas, 40″x40″, oil on canvas, available through Cape Elizabeth Land Trust’s Paint for Preservation auction.|
When Cape Elizabeth Land Trust’s Paint for Preservation first went virtual, I debated whether it made sense to paint large. Not only is it physically demanding, larger paintings don’t read as well on the internet. A tiny painting occupying 600X600 pixels shows off its brushwork to advantage. A huge painting loses its presence on the screen. You simply can’t see the brushwork and colors.
In the end, I decided that professionalism trumped hard-nosed common sense. I’d go on as I began. Zeb Cove, above, is a massive 40X40”. There’s an old saw that a painting should work at 30 feet, three feet, and three inches. This one, I think, does.
|That big beast of a canvas, photo courtesy of Betsy Manganello
The sale may be virtual, but the painting itself sure wasn’t. Working at the end of a private road, I was worried that I’d be totally isolated. I shouldn’t have. I met the neighbors. Friends and students stopped by. It was a revolving party—all socially distanced, of course.
This year, I made a video of the first layers of my painting. It’s here on YouTube, for those of you who are interested in the process. This was a 12-hour painting stint, cut down to several minutes of video. The only parts I cut out were the long pauses when I stepped back to look. (I’ve also made a video about preparing for this event, here.)
The last few hours aren’t included because the wind was rattling my tripod so much my camera wouldn’t focus. In fact, it was so gusty that I snapped my trusty old Gloucester easel. Luckily, the photographer for the event was carrying gorilla tape, and we patched it back up.
|Snap, crackle, pop! Easel down. A little gorilla tape and I was back in business.|
We’re allotted three days to make one painting. Saturday was a washout, with gouts of rain. By mid-day Sunday, I was done with my subject (which is called Hair Rock). I decided to paint another rock formation out in the middle of the cove and mostly submerged except at low tide. The wind increased; the surf roared. Alas, my canvas kept working itself loose and flying at me. The final indignity was when it hit me amidships, flipped over my head, and soared about 35 feet to land in scrub. I dusted it off and packed up my gear.
One perk of being a painter is that you get to see the competition before everyone else. My peers clearly came with the same attitude as me—we would pour heart and soul into this event, regardless of the outcome. I’ve found that to be the case in my dealings this summer, whether in the grocery store, doctors’ offices, or the post office. People are working very hard to find ways to do their jobs. It’s heartening.
|Surf interrupted. I’m waiting until it dries enough to scrape the debris out and then I’ll get back to it. Those distant blues ended up on my arms as it hit me amidships.|
I’ve been so focused on the impact of COVID-19 on working artists, I was shocked to read that Paint for Preservation funds about 25% of CELT’s annual budget. As non-profits cancel their annual fundraisers, the stress on the charity side of our economy is tremendous.
Normally, Paint for Preservation ends with a very swank gala, the highlight of which is an auction presided over by the irrepressible Kaja Veilleux. It always sells out, because demand far exceeds the venue’s capacity. Obviously, that party is a no-go this year. However, the upside is that anyone, anywhere in the world, can bid. No ticket is required. My painting will open at $1500, which is a small fraction of its retail value. I believe all other paintings are priced similarly.
All thirty paintings will be on CELT’s website starting tomorrow. Bidding opens Saturday, September 12 at 8 AM and closes at 8 PM the following day. Last month, I wrote about my paintings for CELT’s Mystery Boxes. These will be on sale on the website as well.