Jeremy Sams Art Blog

Monday, September 5, 2011

Banner Elk Plein Air Competition

Shawneehaw Greens
8x10 acrylic on masonite

What an experience! On Friday, August 26th, I had the privilege of testing out some oil paints under the instruction of fellow landscape artist and plein air painter, Scott Boyle. He had offered a plein air workshop in conjunction with the Avery County Arts Council in Linville, NC. After the long yet informative day of oil painting, fellow-shipping with other artists, and visiting an art show opening with some friends and fellow artists,  I was ready for Saturday.

On Saturday, The Art Cellar, a fine art gallery located in Banner Elk, NC, hosted a plein air painting competition. This was my first plein air event where my work would be judged along side of other artists' work. Was this nerve racking? Absolutely... Was I intimidated? Absolutely! Was I ready to have a great time? you guessed it...Absolutely!

We started early that morning scoping out a place to paint after registering for the event. I settled on a path in Tate Park looking at one of its bridges. I had the opportunity to paint along side with some pretty incredible artists at this location. After finishing the Tate Park Bridge painting and lunch, I headed back toward the gallery in search of another inspiring scene.

Eureka! I found my perfect scene of the day along the banks of the Shawneehaw River. Mountains in the distance covered by fog, the gallery on the left hillside, a sunlit field, fir trees, bushes, foliage, and water...what more could you ask for?

It took me about 2 hours to finish the painting en plein air. The time seemed to fly by...especially since I knew I was on a time restraint. I tried to capture the atmospheric perspective of the humid day with the bluish background mountains and trees. When the overcast sky would occasionally break, the sun would lay these beautiful highlights on the field, so this too had to be attempted. Overall, I was fairly pleased with the result.

However, not only was I racing against time and the changing light, but now my paintings would be set beside everyone else's to be...JURIED!!! These kind of events can wreak havoc on you if you have an inferiority complex. Or, so I thought.

The show was nothing like what my imagination had foretold. The other artists were so kind and everyone was strolling through the gallery chit chatting, and recounting the events of the day. It didn't seem as much like a competition as it did an artist fellowship. So, in that, I was eased.

Eventually, we were all called to the room with all the plein air pieces on display. It was time to announce the winners. I wasn't that nervous. I hoped to place, but I had already viewed the other artists' work, which was exceptional. So, I thought, at best, I might get 3rd place. You can imagine my shock to hear my name announced for 1st place. Did they make a mistake? Did they not see the other paintings? There was a lot of talent there and I was truly humbled just to paint along side with these experienced artists, and even more so to place in the show.

Thanks also to Sarah Gilley for sending me a picture of the painting... In all of my excitement, I forgot to take pics.


  1. Wow.... who would have thought they have blind judges these days. Lucky for you!!!! ;-)

  2. Your Personal Critic, LeahSeptember 7, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    LOL. I love picking on you about your work. Hope you know it is all in fun. I actually think you are an awesome artist! I just have to keep you humble so you don't forget the little people like me when you "make it big." Haha

  3. LOL Leah, you goofball! You know I could never forget you...

    "thinking of you brings immense the bathroom" -ancient Chinese proverb