Monday, March 2, 2015

Report: the 2015 Painting Convention in Las Vegas

After several years of missing the Las Vegas Painting Conventions due to illness I realized this past week how much I missed it. I learned this is the granddaddy of such conventions - 25 years in fact. My last class and partner had been to all 25! I dared go to the Society of Decorative Painters Convention four months after my first surgery last year. They walked us to death. I didn't hurt but I tired easily. The classes cost more and, with rare exceptions, were just so so.  I literally was the only male in any class. Everyone was kind and I was welcomed by most teachers though several were surprised while others ignored me.

This year in Vegas I met a guy at breakfast who said there were several more guys. I never had a guy in my class nor did I see him again. To be fair, I only signed up at the last minute. The doctors said i could go but only take one class a day. My wife insisted on the one class a day. They were right, I was wiped out after 4-9 hours of heavy concentration.

Autumn with Bill Bayer
Not a lot of choices were left but that makes the choosing easier, like all the guys shopping Christmas Eve at the mall!. I choose a George Mason style landscape taught by my favoriete teacher, Bill Bayer, two small still lifes, one of apples and a red pepper plus a Rosemaling bench and finally my triumph, a Jacobean wall sconce.

The first class on Monday started at 8 am. I had bought and set up a folding wagon for all my stuff, paint box, coats, bags, cane.  It took awhile to master but it worked well enough. I was stunned at how cold Vegas could get. I had been there when it was 100 at midnight in July but the cold and wind stunned me in February.

Bill Bayer, our teacher and one of my all time favorite teachers, had everything set up. We dove right in. We went along for about two hours then he let us catch up and looked at everyone's work.  Because this was a much longer class, he had more time to show us techniqiues I had never seen before. Within a few hours I learned more than years of classes. Couldn't wait to get home and try these things out. I struggled at the end and he stayed to show me how to correct and do these new, to me, techniques. Never knew a fan brush was so versatile. This painting uses 5 brushes and 5 paint colors!!!

Tuesday my class was in the evening so I got my stuff in the classroom and hour early, found something to eat. When I returned my things were in the last row and there were no seats closer. There were of course but they were "saved" for people who never showed up. This painting was oil of two apples on a 6" x 6" canvas. I was about 40 feel away and couldn't see a thing. I asked for help several tmes, didn't get it and packed up and left after 45 minutes. It wasn't that I couldn't do it, but I had to "see" what was being done to create it. I couldn't.

The third day I was on a 1-5 pm schedule and again got there early and made sure my paintbox was in a good location. Grabbed something to eat and went back to class. This was a red pepper using water soluble oils and what  mess I made, not once but three times. Just a slight touch and the paint smeared everywhere. I had to recover the colors and between that and painting the same areas over and over with different colors. I didn't get it done so will make a decision when I get it home.

Rosemaling Stool
My biggest discocery was that I had lost a degree of fine motor skills after my illness. The Thursday class was painting a Rosemaling design on a wooden stool. It was here that I realized that I had truly lost some of my fine motor skills. The teacher was very patient and showed me some tricks to steady my hands.  Heck, I might use these all the time. It did get finished though. If we want she noted we could put a red band around the seat.  We shall see. What every student wants is a guiding hand and she give me a wonderful one. Many of my class mates were teachers themselves and were honing their skills as well. THAT is encouraging.

Jacobean Flower Pocket

My Friday and last class was a Jacobean Wall Scounce. The design was on a black painted tin piece that had a handle or a hole in the back to hang it. It was very cool and incredibly complicated. It was also the only piece I completed on my own with no help. After about two hours of rapid fire instruction (I was not alone in not keeping up), I tuned her out and followed the photo. Now and then I would tune in but generally I was on my own. I am very proud of it! As far as I could tell I was the only student that got it done.

Despite the Tropicana''s usual mess up (escalators that didn't work, poorly marked rooms and lighting fit for a cave, Jay did manage to pull it off. In fact I think this was one of his best years.

Food was good (for once) and fairly priced, The big hang up was getting to the "C" floor. We got there and I think most had a great time.

I enjoyed myself immensely and am very glad I went.

Thank you for visiting! If you are interested in a variety of birdhouses or crafts, photography or one of a kind paintings, please be sure to check out this store on a regular basis at Be sure to tell your friends, artists or anyone about this blog and my and refer them to my blog!,

1 comment:

  1. Happy healing, Alan! Your work is beautiful!