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Stepping Out

Talk about stepping out of my comfort zone. That's exactly what I did last week at Paint It Orange Plein Air Paint-Out in Orange County, NC.

I checked in at the Hillsborough Arts Council on Wednesday morning and set off to explore Orange County (Hillsborough, Chapel Hill and Carrboro). For some reason, I created the idea of a "Meet and Greet" type event in my head, giving each artist a chance to mingle and work out plans for visiting sites to paint together. Nope. It was just me and a map right after check in. I had 2.5 days to produce up to 3 plein air works I felt proud to turn in for judging and the wet paint sale for the Hillsborough Last Friday Art Walk.

No pressure! Right?

I felt like I spent a lot more time exploring an unknown (yet colorful and beautiful!) area with a pumpkin spice in hand trying to shield my ears from the wind in the 47 degrees temp than I did really painting. Oh my! (By the way, I'm definitely more of a pumpkin spice in hand even though it's still 70+ outside kinda gal.)

By 1:20PM Friday, I had 3 wipers (aka ones I wiped off and chalked up as "practice") and 2 pieces I deemed acceptable to turn in. One being a gorgeous yellow and orange tree casting a fun shadow on a house right near the UNC campus from late Thursday afternoon and the other from along the Riverwalk in Hillsborough that I finished just in the knick of time for Friday's 2PM turn in deadline.

It'd be really amazing to tell you that I won first, second or even third place in the eyes of the juror, but I did not. But hey! I'm counting my perseverance as a HUGE success. Taking in new views and painting in an unknown area alone and in temps a good 30 degrees below what I left behind in Charleston pushed me. Pushed me to victory because I was stretched, I grew and I added another experience to my creative journey. I went from having nothing I felt I could turn in on Thursday at 4PM (yikes!) to 2 pieces that I felt reasonably proud of on Friday at 2PM. Whew! Now that's what ya call gettin' it done!

These two pieces will hang in the Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery for sale through December.

Above is Thursday evening's work in progress in Chapel Hill. I kept having to rework the blue sky. I was thrown off that the sky was a darker value than the trees (it's the opposite here in Charleston with not a peep of light fall colors hanging from the trees). The finished piece, Chapel Hill Camaraderie, had a blue sky that did do the trick. I chose "camaraderie" for the title because it was amusing listening to the convos of the college kids walking to and from campus as I painted. I'm regretting that I don't have an image of the finished product. I guess that's what happens when you're racing to the deadline.

Above is Friday morning's work in progress along the Riverwalk in Hillsborough. I was determined to turn in at least 2 of the 3 possible pieces so this one really pleases me that it worked out in such a rush. I named it Riverwalk Recess because, amazingly, I just relaxed and had fun with this one, not allowing the time crunch to deter me from the joy of the process.

This was an experience for the books. Looking forward to the next time I step out and into new, challenging experiences.

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