Quilt Show week is past and so Paducah, especially LowerTown and downtown, is back to normal. I spent two afternoons of the weeklong festivities painting outdoors by the gazebo on Broadway. A local artist, Jeff Spicer, organized the outdoor painting and creating sessions, inspired by his own successful activity last summer painting outside of Wildhair Studios on Broadway downtown. So far, the artistsâ€™ public activity has been met with a lot of enthusiasm. Who knows, maybe the city will agree to let us do this on a more permanent basis along the streets of downtown and at the Texaco station in LowerTown.
I was a little nervous about the prospect of painting in public, not so much at being watched, but because Iâ€™ve never much enjoyed painting outdoors. The elements seem to always be a problem â€“ too hot, too cold, too windy, and there are usually bugs bothering you. I never seem to be able to get comfortable. But Jeff told me heâ€™d have some tables set up and chairs, so I figured Iâ€™d at least see what I could do. Just to be sure, I ended up buying a portable small table from Walgreenâ€™s and a fold up stool, both of which I could also use at art fairs.
Both days ended up sunny if windy, and there were lots of people on the street as expected, it being Quilt Show week. The previous week Iâ€™d started a new painting destined to become â€œMexican Place Settings,â€ a still life of sorts of two tables, overlayed with colorful hand-woven Mexican tablecloths, surrounded by several wooden, brightly painted chairs that are typical of Mexico. The painting had presented a challenge of pattern and execution, how to make the tablecloths look realistic with a woven pattern while not over working them. Iâ€™d had to spend a lot of time with precise drawing to make the chairs appear correct in perspective, with their arched ladder backs and spindled legs and backs. And up until I carried it off to paint at the gazebo or be damned, I had spent the week previous worrying about how to pull the painting off.
As it turned out, there wasnâ€™t a lot to be worried about. To my surprise, I enjoyed the heck out of being outside and painting. Maybe it was having a good set-up with two tables, one to paint on and the other to use for my palette and other materials. Maybe it was the shade overhead from the tree behind me and the constant breeze (sometimes wind) that kept me cool and easily dried my work without need for a blow dryer. Or maybe it was just having fellow artists around me doing their work too, and people coming by from time to time to watch and offer a friendly comment. Iâ€™ve come to realize how much both of the latter mean to me and how much they help to inspire me in moving forward.
My quilt week guest, Ginger, offered her own take on my worries about finishing the painting. Well, of course you were nervous, she confided. You were giving birth to something new to the world. You were bound to be worried over it. Those were birth pangs you were experiencing!
How â€˜bout that. My first birth pangs.