Duckfest 2016!


I'm the first to admit that I'm always playing catch-up. While I'm usually a little bit behind, this one is way behind. I'm talking about last October.

Last fall I was invited to Duckfest in Bowdon, ND to do a live artist demo. Duckfest is a great event that brings together artists, hunters, farmers, and... well everyone i guess. There's fun, food, and a really high-quality art show.

I was in the library at the high school (an amazing project, considering that it was entirely community funded), and over the course of the day I did a few paintings. It was October, and the harvest was finishing up. Accordingly, my subjects for my paintings were some garden produce I'd pickled over the past few months.

First, I painted a 20x20 canvas of the whole cadre of pickles I'd brought.

This was a fun painting because I was able to showcase all the different pickles I'd made - kosher dills, eggs, pears, and a few others. The best part was that many attendees came in and watched, asked questions, and just learned more about the process. It was especially great when young children watched and asked questions about my paintings, my process, etc. They were genuinely interested in what I was doing and I hope a few of them will keep painting. There's a lot of great opportunities to get art into schools here in North Dakota. I hope even with the downturn of the oil economy there will continue to be high quality art education in schools here. I know I benefited from art classes in public schools.

The art show in the next room had a great collection of children's art, and I'm confident there will be great artists coming up in the next few years. There was also some great art on display from artists here in North Dakota and also from the nearby states. It's a testament to the great work done by the festival organizers that they had so much great art in a city with only 130 residents!

After I did the large painting I had some more time, so I focused on doing smaller pieces. And I ended up doing three 4x4 paintings. All close-ups of my pickles and preserves.

I love working with texture. This painting - and the next one especially - are some of my favorites. Using the chunky oil paint to capture the shapes of the jars and pickles was great.

This one is probably my favorite. From a textural and composition standpoint, I really enjoyed painting this. The chunky yellows make me happy.

This is the last painting I did. Again, I really like the texture, but I think the bleed-through of the red under painting really provides some frantic energy to a usually subdued still life. When I think of canned food it seems like it's frozen in time; preserved and unmoving until the jar is opened. But we all know how much effort goes into growing, harvesting and canning produce, and I think this painting really captures that energy.

In the many months since Duckfest happened, most of the small pickle paintings have sold. I guess next time we have some preserved food I'll have to immortalize them again!

Big thanks to Duckfest, Bowdon, ND, and the ND council on the arts for helping put this great event on. Hope I can make it to Duckfest 2017!

--Nicole


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