Last month I participated in the Calistoga Paint Out held by the Calistoga Art Center. As a watercolor painter, I faced some interesting challenges that artists in other mediums may not encounter.
The essential elements of a plein air festival include a check in period, a painting period and then a public show of the resulting paintings. During check-in, the artwork supports, typically canvas, panels or paper are stamped on the back with an identifying mark and date. This step ensures that the painting actually takes place during the painting period.
What I did not anticipate was that the stamp needs to be visible when the final artworks are displayed. This is usually not an issue for canvas or a panel, but display of a watercolor sandwiched between a mat and backing board then inserted in a frame is a problem. The stamp would be covered up.
Fortunately, a more experienced artist suggested I solve this problem by cutting a hole in the backing board. This required that I get my paper re-stamped near the center so that the stamp would not be covered by the frame moulding. Then I had to measure the location of the stamp carefully to make sure I cut a hole in the same place on the backing board.
For future paint outs, it would be easier to have the watercolor paper permanently mounted on the backing board ahead of time so that I could simply have the backing board stamped. I haven’t yet found a pre-made watercolor board that I like, so I intend to glue my favorite watercolor paper to foam core board or a flat panel.
My paintings were not my best work, but I have to remind myself I did these in about an hour each battling wind and even rain showers. I plan to repaint them in my studio.