Live painting on the Plaza, Part 2

I was a little nervous going into the live painting experience as part of the art themed Urban Market, though I didn't know why.  I think my unconscious brain was more aware of what I was getting myself into than the conscious one.  I had a large canvas and a subject and background with a lot of detail, more than the two previous subjects that I painted live at charity events in Calgary (Robin Williams) and Fort McMurray (Dr. Karl A. Clark).

Jubilee Plaza was a flurry of activity when I arrived at about 8:20 am, with vendors unloading their merchandise and organizers getting tents set up.  I unloaded my easel, toolkit of paints and supplies, then lugged four buckets of sand from one end of the Plaza to my tent location near Franklin Avenue.  They served as anchors to ensure the tent didn't blow away. I was all set up and ready to paint by 9 am.


I took a deep breath, scanned the expanse of the 2-foot by 4-foot canvas with the composition of golfer Payne Stewart having been lightly sketched out in pencil the night before, then started adding colour.


Apart from taking two trips to the washroom, I spent the next seven hours painting.  I drank water, munched on nuts, and worked the canvas.

Photo by Paul Jen, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
As Ben, Dylan and I drove down Highway 63 later that day, my mind was abuzz with all the people who came by to say hello, ask about commissions, connect or reconnect.  It was amazing, exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time.  I was so pleased to meet a number of talented artists including the amazing Suma Jose. Check out her stuff be clicking here.

Photo by Kiran Malik-Khan
I hope I was friendly and somewhat attentive to the people who visited; I certainly tried.  The smoke in the air and the sun beating down on us, combined to give me one whopper of a headache by the time I completely finished the painted at exactly seven minutes to four.  Liana Wheeldon checked.  She was my awesome tent mate for the day, an excellent artist with a distinctive voice (style) and a wonderful spirit. Check out her website to see the great work she has been doing:  http://www.lianawheeldon.com.

Photo by Kiran Malik-Khan
I might have been done an hour earlier were it not for the fact that I had only drops of Lamp Black left and was forced to use Ivory Black instead.  Using the Ivory required multiple coats to achieve the darkness that I needed.  I've been anxiously waiting on a back order of Lamp Black for several weeks; unfortunately, it did not arrive in time for this live painting opportunity.  Everything happens for a reason, and this supply issue resulted in an elongated painting time that perfectly fit with the length of the Urban Market.

It was likely a blessing that I had less than a half hour to do the background.  I didn't even hesitate; instead, I started liberally applying several shades of green and yellow to create the striking canopy followed by the trunks of the trees.  I'm pretty sure that if I was blessed with more time, I would have over-thought what to do to finish the piece.

My drop dead end time was 4 pm, as we were scheduled to leave town almost immediately and the painting had to be complete.  It is going to be picked up while we are away and auctioned off at the Cat Rental Store Golf Tournament on July 16th in support of the United Way. As it turned out, I had the exact amount of time to finished this portrait of a great golfer and the famous fist-pump moment from 1999 when Payne Stewart won the US Open.  It was an exhilarating day of painting made extra special by everyone who stopped by to visit.

Photo by Paul Jen, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
I'm deeply grateful to the Urban Market team and the awesome folks from Arts Council Wood Buffalo who made it possible.  I loved spending the day with Liana and her husband Ron.  They are such good people and fantastic company.


My sincere hope is that the painting of Payne Stewart inspires lots of interest and generosity when it is sold for charity in just a couple of days.

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