7/21/22 to 7/30/22
Arriving in Driggs, Idaho to attend the Driggs Plein Air Festival was very exciting. Our first task on arrival was for Sue to have all her blank painting canvases stamped at the Festival office. All the festival artists must have their canvases stamped so that the organizers know that everyone is starting with a blank canvas. The next task was to find our camping spot at the Big Eddy on the Teton River about 6 miles out of town. This primitive beautiful little spot would be our home for the next week. We were very fortunate to have a few friends that live in the area so we had some inside information about where to camp. We boondocked (camped without hookups) in a beautiful location called the Big Eddy (Rainey Bridge). Just as we were pulling in and trying to decide where to park another camper pulled out of what we deemed as the best spot. We had views of the Teton Mountains from our dining room window and were parked next to the Teton River which provided a much needed cooling off spot for us and Buddy.
After getting set up, Sue set out to find potential painting locations. Driggs is a rural community with lots of farming and surrounded by big mountains including the Teton National Park. After a few hours scouting the area Suzanne was ready to splash paint onto paper.
The first morning Sue got up with the sunrise and started a painting of the Teton river at the Big Eddy. The lighting and reflections on the water were beautiful and it was fun to watch all the paddlers come by. What started off as peaceful, turned into a bit of a mosquito fest, so she packed up and went back to the safety of the trailer.
The days were quite hot and unfortunately Driggs has very few trees to provide shade while painting. The afternoons were often spent playing in the river and relaxing. In the evening Sue, Buddy and Ross headed out to a location that had caught Sue’s eye in a nearby ranching town called Tetonia. This scene caught her eye because of the old grain elevator with nice lighting and the Tetons as a backdrop. As most painters know, there is almost always an ugly stage to every painting and Sue almost threw in the towel on this one, but fortunately pushed through. It ended up being a piece that sold and several buyers wanted it.
The second morning Sue got up to finish the painting called Morning Paddle and fortunately the mosquitoes were not as bad. The lighting was very different which created a challenge.
It was a very hot afternoon so Sue went into town to scout out potential painting spots for the upcoming quick draw in downtown Driggs. Generally she will do a few sketches and take photos to prepare for the painting and make sure that she thinks the composition will work.
That evening as the temperatures started to cool, we all went out to a shady spot where the view of the hay bales in the fields captured a nice evening light. Sue wasn’t able to finish the painting, but after studying the painting some more realized that this scene would be better with morning light and the shadows going in the other direction. So the following morning it was another early rise and return to this painting location to finish up the painting called Summer Hay Bales.
That afternoon we took a break from painting and went to downtown Driggs for the official opening night of the Plein Air Festival where each artist had 4 paintings hanging in the art gallery. The festival’s live band and food trucks made for a fun and relaxing evening, and seeing all the fantastic artwork, highlighted the caliber of painters in attendance.
The next morning was a very exciting one because the organized paint out was 45 minutes away at the top of the Grand Targhee ski resort. So Ross and I took the ski lift up to the top of the ski resort with all my supplies and scouted for a location to paint. The skies were a bit hazy due to some fires in Northern Idaho but the views were still great.
Unfortunately for Sue, this painting, although it started off well, didn’t end up to her satisfaction. Sometimes it is hard to simplify landscapes and not take on too much. In this case, her vision was too much for such a short amount of time to paint, so this one will have to be finished off in the studio.
The evening was spent with a friend and her husband having dinner at their house. It was such a nice way to spend the night and find out more about the local Driggs scene.
Tuesday morning was another early start. Sue needed to be downtown and signed in to the quick draw at 7am and ready to start painting at 7:30. On a quick draw everyone has 3 hours to paint something within a 3 block radius area and then have the painting framed and turned in for the jury and sale. I had planned this location and had done a sketch earlier in the week so I had a good idea of what needed to be done. I loved the bright yellow umbrellas, crisp blue sky and great flowers in the old wine barrels. I also had intentions of painting the American flag hanging from the nearby light post but time got away from me. I was happy with the result but may make some quick changes at home in the studio.
In the late afternoon all the participants were invited to the world renowned Scott Christensen’s art studio and home. His work is incredible and it was a huge treat to be able to see his paintings and art studio. I definitely had studio envy! It was amazing to hear him talk about his process and learn that his large paintings take a year and a half, and sometimes he hangs them to look at for years, before finishing and selling them. He shared with our group that he only does plein air paintings as studies for his larger paintings. It is something that I would like to start working on in the winter months. He had a few paintings that I could not take my eyes off and here are a few of them.
This plein air festival had two quick draw events which was unusual but fun. The 2nd location was not pre-announced so that no one had an advantage of pre-scouting the site for painting ideas. The night before they emailed everyone to say that check-in was at 7am at the Hapi horse rescue. There was a lot of subject matter including barns, horses, hay bales, trees, and long vistas. I walked around and decided to paint a portion of the barn with good lighting and some hay bales. I got about 45 minutes into the painting and was very unhappy with how it was turning out and decided to throw in the towel and change subject matter before it was too late. I turned my painting upside down and used my existing colors as a base color that would come through on my new painting. I did a quick sketch of some nearby trees with nice lighting and what we artists call “sky holes” in the trees. Sometimes I find when I think less and go more with my emotions and use my palette knife I like my painting better. In this case, I think it worked out and I painted this painting quickly. I like how the colors from the first painting come through in areas and I like how my trees turned out.
It was another hot afternoon so Ross, Buddy and I decided to go back up to Grand Targhee ski resort where it was 10 degrees cooler to do a hike. We wound up hiking through some beautiful aspen trees and into the wildflowers. It was great to see the ski runs and Ross was very excited to return in the winter.
In the evening I decided which paintings to submit for the final competition and framed them. I did not win any awards but I was happy with what I created and the competition was fierce. I did sell a few paintings and was so surprised that my painting called Serenity in the Tetons sold quickly and several people approached me to repaint it as a commissioned piece for them.
For the last two evenings we moved the RV over to another friend’s land in nearby Victor. He was a good friend from Boulder 20 years ago and it was fantastic to catch up with him and meet his new partner. We even got in a quick bike ride just like the old days.
On Friday morning Ross and I played golf with our friends in Driggs on a golf course that allows dogs. It was a great golf course and we played well, but it was fantastic to have our trusty companion Buddy with us and spend more time with our friends. Buddy LOVED running on the grass and taking advantage of all the ponds, creeks etc.
The Driggs Plein Air Festival was a lot of fun and was made even more special by spending time with friends! If you would like to see the art created by all the artists during the week the link to the gallery and sale are here.
We now head north to Glacier National Park, Montana for some hiking and hopefully a bit more painting of beautiful scenery.