We finally got home yesterday from our trip to Texas for the Oil Painters of America national show. We had a great time seeing friends and relatives in Houston and I had an even GREATER time at the OPA show in Fredericksburg. I was in the national show last year, but wasn't able to make it to Montana to see it, so I was pretty excited to go this year and it didn't disappoint.
Oil Painters of America is an organization dedicated to representational painting, and they put on a great weekend of events centering around the show. Now that I've attended, I'd recommend going in the future even without a painting in the show - it was just such a good experience.
On Friday morning the juror of awards, Quang Ho, did a demonstration that was worth every penny charged for admission. If you aren't familiar with Quang's work, you should check it out right now. Not only is he a fantastic artist, but he's a fantastic teacher, so watching his demonstration was just as valuable as taking a workshop.
That afternoon, a panel of high-end gallery owners answered questions for two hours, ranging from how they prefer artists to submit their work, to what they see as current trends in the art market.
Friday night was the opening and awards ceremony for the artists. The opening itself was packed with people, and the show looked great. Whistle Pik galleries did a great job hanging the show, and all 200 paintings were fantastic. I'm completely humbled to have my work hanging in this show - it is by far the highest caliber show I've ever been in.
Following the opening was the awards ceremony, where much to my surprise I got an award for my painting (yay!!). I got a smaller award last year, but after seeing the show this year I thought there were so many great paintings that I didn't have a chance. It was a humbling experience to stand on stage and have my picture taken with the others who got awards - I was standing on the same stage as masters David Leffel and C.W. Mundy and feeling totally unworthy!
On Saturday the owner of the Fredericksburg Artist School came and did a discussion/Q&A session about the business of art. We talked a lot about tax issues for artists, then moved on to the process of actually selling art. Again, totally valuable. I think it'll save me hundreds of dollars on my tax return next year!
After that were individual critiques offered by OPA masters. I got a thirty minute critique of my portfolio, and got some valuable advice on how to improve and move forward. I'm excited to get back to the studio and put the advice to work.
Saturday night was the collector's opening and barbecue. We actually skipped the opening because we had Aspen with us and the gallery was so packed we figured we didn't want to bother. But we went to the barbecue, which was a big fun event with artists and collectors. It was totally Texas - good BBQ and southern music.
Sunday was plein air painting, but we had to drive back to Houston since our flight was leaving on Monday. I still got enough out of the two days of events to keep me motivated for months!
Closing for the sale of our house and purchase of the new one is scheduled for this Friday, and movers come the day after tomorrow. With the big move, I was tempted not to go to Texas, but I'm so glad we went. From an art career standpoint it was immensely valuable, and it was also a nice little break in the middle of the stress of moving.
Now I just wish my entire studio wasn't packed so I could get back to painting!