04 - 06
Never did I think I’d hear myself refer to my painting on stage again! The first couple of times I did that I thought were a fluke. But a few Fridays back at “Evening Walk on the Beach,” they planted me center stage under spotlights, painting my little heart out. At first the credits rolled onto a screen that hid me–credits for sponsors of Grace College of Divinity’s First Annual Spring Banquet last Friday the 16th. They are an accredited school for training ministers emerging from the 5- to 6000-member Manna Church located on the main Cliffdale Road campus in Fayetteville (http://joriginals.net/up-coming-events/).
I was invited by the event coordinator, Diane Sharp, who was familiar with my work and was told by top brass to hire the artist she knew (moi) who had painted on stage before. Yep, she praised me to the skies in front of everybody. Two of my studio-finished works I brought that shared the stage with me. My watercolor painting of NC blue crabs, Crab-Net, the one juried into the Texas show was on an easel to the left of me Friday, and Castaway Shell, a 3-foot by 4-foot oil painting, framed, hung right of center, bracketing me on either side down front.
Then the screen rolled up for the great reveal: me at work, painting, finishing paintings to auction off that very evening. Nothing like a little pressure to provide an adrenalin rush and laser-sharp focus. I had my mini-art studio set up so all seated at beautiful banquet tables of evening sea decor could watch me paint, adding strokes to seashells and giving them surf backgrounds. My worship art performance was aided by the most beautiful “Celtic Worship” CD recorded by Eden’s Bridge, one I listen to as I paint in my studio @ Art on Broad Atelier, known as j’Originals’ Art Studio in downtown Dunn. The songs were worshipful and dreamy, lending to the flow of waves and my arm moving to the music in watercolor.
With my 16 x 20 watercolor board set on an upright easel, a not-so-usual position for painting watercolor I learned from Charles Reid, I and my brushes swayed to the music. The watercolor board responded a little differently from the paper I normally used, soaking up wet paint instantly. I had bought a new palette which clipped tightly shut, was compact, and into which I poured all the colors I would need, a process picked up to have what I need ‘at the ready’from the travel demo of Linda Doll, President of the National Watercolor Society, when I attended a pre-exhibit demo in Kerrville, Texas, recentlly (see http://joriginals.net/2014/04/ ).
Erin Kolbe was assigned to help me; she is also an artist. She arranged the paintings I had begun in painting order, decorated tables that would exhibit the finished watercolors beside the desserts, brought me water both to drink and to paint with, emptied the colored water, plus she video-taped me while I painted.
All during the presentations I painted. Dr. Crowther, the head of the operation, spoke, and a singer sang, “It Is Well,” which was just incredibly beautiful and provided the crescendo for nearly completing my main painting with artful flourishes. I’ll have to brush up on my performance quotient, I think. At that point, the screen descended and hid me again, and students told stories of how the school had helped them. In that interval, I finished two more, for a total of four seashells in the hour and a half, a half hour for each one. Had I not had the shells well underway before I started, the total time would have produced barely one painting. Unlike some performance artists, my works contain a lot of detail.
Erin took my paintings as I finished them down to the tables so people could get dessert and study them for purchase. After a leisurely beginning at dessert, Diane began the auction, sending a young man around with the first one, holding it up for people at each table to examine up close. The auction started out slowly with a minimum bid having already been set by me. Suddenly the first one went, then the second, then the third. A phone call later, the fourth was bought by the wife of the husband attending who had already bought one. Those proceeds went directly to the college.
At the end, the proud new owners of Joanna McKethan Seashells came up for a photo op with me, and their new acquisitions. Of course, I have their names to add to my growing roster of owners of my watercolors and oils. I think everyone was happy with the results, all round. I know I was. Tired, for sure, as we had made a full 14-hour day of it, but stretching and pushing the envelope are two codes of mine, so it was terrific. Once I’d begun to conquer my stage fright and tune people out, getting ‘into the zone,’ became a lot easier. Accompanied by the lyric, melodic , Celtic folk voice and music, painting before a crowd turned into second nature. So I’m up for invitations to my next painting gig before too long–give me awhile to recupe from this event first, and learn a few things in retrospect. This time I did the gig for love, entertainment, and an honorarium, since the proceeds from sales went to the sponsors. I rarely give it all away, just in case you were wondering. I’m in league with too many professionals who wouldn’t let me, even if I had the tendency.
Thanks for the opportunity and the stretch.