OPA National Show & Exhibition

It always seems to take a few days after a show for me to digest the information and all that happened. By then, I feel like you have already seen or heard about it. I will tell you my take and what I did and got out of it. I always find all the shows, but especially the OPA show so inspiring. There is such wonderful work there and so many artists to talk to and to meet.

This was my third national OPA show in the last 4 years. The first show that I entered was held in Scottsdale. I had heard about the OPA, but hadn’t paid attention to national organizations. Since it was held at the Legacy in Scottsdale and I live there, I thought I may as well join up and apply for the show. When I went to the show, I was blown away by the work and blown away that my painting was amongst some the art and artists that I had admired. I then read that it was about 10% of the entries were accepted into the show with approximately 200 paintings exhibited. After that first show, I was hooked.

I have entered the show each year since that time including 3 Western Regionals. I was accepted to the Regional once. I looked back at those paintings that I submitted that weren’t accepted, last years national and 2 regionals. I realized that my paintings weren’t really up to par. I was rushing it and not prepared. Now, I know that there are a lot of wonderful paintings that are turned down and there is a certain amount of subjectivity to choosing the show pieces. I also know that each of my paintings I can look back at and know there are things I would do differently. I always come away from the show with a renewed energy to strive for more in my work, to push myself a little harder. On the other hand, I will have a day or so of feeling, how can I do it. Right now, I’m jazzed and ready to go!

The show was held at the Insight Gallery in Fredericksburg, TX this year. I’ve visited the town several times since my son lives about an hour away in Austin. Since about March or April, I have been showing at the gallery next door, The Good Art Company. This was also my first visit to the gallery since I started showing there. Mary Katherine who now owns the gallery has been redoing things, bringing in new artists and marketing the gallery. I was very impressed with what she is doing.

I came into Austin Tuesday night and was out in Fredericksburg on Wednesday. There was a paintout with Southwest Art Magazine at a park in town. I came in a little late after sleeping in.  I saw a few artists but not many. It wasn’t a great day painting, but it also wasn’t the kind of scenery that excites me. It was too manicured, you know… a park. Thursday was a lot more fun. I went out to the grounds where the old Fredericksburg Art School used to be to do a little plein air painting.

I saw some of my artist friends there, Dave Santillanes, Marc Hanson, Scott Gellatly and Michele de Braganca and new friend, Randy Saffle. and Barbara Kourtney Jaenicke among others. The property has several small cabins on it each one individual and hand built. A Swiss man bought the property and has been rebuilding each cabin into a unique piece of artwork. There is a small creek, waterfall and pond with chairs out on the lawn, barns, sheds, farm equipment, trees and fields, an incredible amount of things to paint. I really wanted to get out here to paint, because the school building is leased by Mary Katherine where workshops will be held. I will be teaching a plein air workshop here Oct. 25 – 27. It is an absolutely gorgeous setting for a workshop and so convenient.

Late Thursday afternoon was the reception and registration for the the artists. Friday, the exhibits started. with demonstrations by the following artists.

  • Kenn Backhaus OPAM
  • Scott Burdick
  • John Michael Carter OPAM
  • John Cosby
  • Elizabeth Robbins OPA

I didn’t see all of them, but parts of most. I spent most of my time watching Kenn paint. I’ve taken two workshops with Kenn over the years and adore his paintings. The lighting is incredible.

Photo: Here is Kenn Backhaus' demo that he did at the OPA National Show Opening Weekend.

A very successful painting, especially for a demo. Wonderful.

Joe Paquet spoke after lunch about authenticity as an artists. It was a similar talk to the one he gave at the Plein Air Convention in Carmel. It was well worth hearing a second time. I have also studied with Joe twice. I went to his bootcamp Plein Air Workshop in St. Paul, MN about 6 years ago. I was very impressed with his breadth of knowledge. He is a very interesting man to talk about. Saturday night Joe and I talked for quite a while when we had dinner at the American Art Collector BarBQ and party. If you haven’t read his open letter to all artists, you should. It is much of what we talked about. Click here and scroll down to read it.

Some of the artists I sat with at the party were John Cosby, Joe Paquet, Kenn Backhaus, Randy Saffle, Lori Putnam, Michele de Braganca , Howard Friedland, Susan Blackwood and Barbara Kourtney Jaenicke. I met and saw soo many friends I can’t possibly name them all. There were some great conversations to listen to and be a part of. Sooo inspiring.

Saturday morning Sherri McGraw gave a demo, of course that was great. Then Eric Rhoads gave his marketing presentation. Much of it was repeated from previous talks that I’ve heard him give, but always good to hear it again. Scott Burdick spoke about the banishment of beauty. I didn’t see much of that talk unfortunately. I needed a break and went out painting for a while. The show opening and awards were on Saturday night. Here is a link to all the awards, I will just tell you that my friend, Johanna Harmon of CO won the big prize, “The Gold Medal”. It was so incredible seeing a personal friend receive it. Wow!

Sunday morning I went to Kenn Backhaus’ presentation about conceptual thinking, finding your own place. Again, I have heard Kenn give this talk. He spoke about it some at one of the workshops that I took with him. It was a very educational presentation with slides of other artists’ work. It was perhaps the most informative for me as an artist.

I left after lunch to go to The Good Art Company where I gave a demo in the gallery. It was a successful demonstration where I had a few people interested in signing up for my workshop in Oct. Afterwards I went back home to my son’s in Austin. I have been painting in the mornings and home by the time my granddaughters are home from school. It has been an action packed week with a granddaughter’s birthday dinner when I came into town, painting, and last night going over to Eric Rhoad’s studio to paint a model with about 7 other artists, 1 I knew and that was Quang Huang. It had been about a year since I had painted a portrait. At least, I didn’t embarrass myself. I have been putting off going to the open studio at Scottsdale Artists School. I think I will be doing that weekly when I get home. I had a lot of fun painting a model. Below is my portrait and the featured painting is one of the plein air’s.

I’ll be back home next week and back into a routine until I head up to Oregon sometime next month.


reflected-light-16x20“Reflected Light” 16″x20″ oil OPA National Show

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