Third Annual ArtVenture Plein Air Quick Draw 2023

Me holding my third place painting titled "Building Blocks 2"
Third place winner Francisco Silva holding his painting titled “Building Blocks 2”

When: October 15th, 9am – Noon
Where: Dvoor Farmer’s Market
Frenchtown-Flemington Road, Flemington, NJ

This was the third year of the event and the competition seems to be improving year after year. The day began cloudy but the sun came out at around 11am although it became a bit windy. The juror was Jeff Charlesworth, a reputable painter from the Lambertville/New Hope area, who patiently took his time examining each painting. I was lucky enough to receive third place. After the awards were given out, Jeff offered constructive critiques to anyone that wanted them. As always ArtVenture did a great job on the food; after 3 hours of painting it’s always appreciated.

“Accidental Masterpiece” at The Outliers Gallery, JCAST 2023, Jersey City, NJ

Video of Accidental Masterpiece at the Outliers Gallery, JCAST 2023

When: October 11-October 31
Where: The Outliers Gallery, Art 150, #246
157A First Street
Jersey City, NJ

The Jersey City Art and Studio Tour is always a big deal for the Jersey City arts scene. This year it was combined with Artfair 14C and a week of events leading up to JCAST. At Art150, the Outliers Gallery had an exhibit titled “Accidental Masterpiece”. The Outliers consist of four artists: Dorie Dahlberg-photographer, Ed Fausty-photographer, Brad Terhune-collage/painter and myself-painter. We’re an unlikely combination of artists but this leads to interesting themes unique viewspoints.

Harford Plein Air Competition 2023: A week of painting this beautiful Maryland county

My wall at the Bel Air Armory

When: September 15th-17th
Reception: September 15th, 6-9pm
Where: Bel Air Armory, Bel Air, MD

This is the second year that I was lucky enough to be juried into this event. I decided to take the entire week off and create 4 paintings during that week. As I live over 50 miles away, I’m able to bring a plein air painting from my area which gave me a total of 5 paintings. Additionally, we were able to paint at Ladew Topiary Gardens on Tuesday and we had an artist’s taco dinner at the Market Street Brewery in Havre de Grace followed by a nocturne paint out. The final event was a Quick Draw on Saturday morning. I decided to have fun and use Tombow Dual Brush pens for the Quick Draw and my drawing was sold immediately! Overall, the staff of Maryland Center for the Arts puts on a wonderful event that I’d happily participate in the future.

Painting this beautiful view of the marina in Harvre de Grace, Maryland

I won 1st place at the 2nd Annual ArtVenture Juried Show

I was lucky enough to win 1st place at the 2nd Annual ArtVenture Juried Show for my acrylic painting titled “Infinite Overview”

When: July 22-August 20, 2023
Reception: July 22, 6-9pm
Where: 95 Main Street, Flemington, NJ (formerly Red Vanilla)

Roberto Osti, professor of anatomy, drawing and plein air, was the juror for this event which included over 100 works of art. The reception was very well attended by artists and collectors. The event went beyond the typical wine and cheese to include catered food along with a Celloist that enhanced the ambience. I was completely shocked to get the first place award as only one of my pieces had been accepted into the exhibition. Additionally, I sold a portfolio piece to a very friendly collector who was an art teacher.

“Food for Thought” at the Outliers Gallery in Jersey City

“Food for Thought” video tour

Where: The Outliers Gallery, Art150-#246, 157A 1st Street, Jersey City, NJ
When: through May, 2023
Artists Reception: May 11, 5-9pm

Here is my artist’s statement from the exhibition:

Our society has a strong emotional relationship with food. We celebrate with food during special moments in our lives and even mourn the loss of a loved one with food. We use food as a way of sharing our experiences with others, whether on a first date or a birthday. There are some foods that we have a fondness for because they are attached to memories from our childhood. This series of paintings is food that’s in my life. Some of it I eat often, some I eat occasionally, and some I eat rarely.

This series of paintings was developed at the beginning of this year, when I began experimenting with acrylic paints. In order to improve my technique, I began painting household objects on small panels. I began by painting fruit on 4 x 6 inch panels. After getting used to the new medium, I decided to start a series on foods that I normally eat (and that most people probably eat). I began with the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich and used the series as an excuse to buy and paint unhealthy food. I created these paintings in the morning on a plein air easel on my kitchen table. I also decided to make each frame, as I wanted the paintings to float on a black background as a way of making each painting intimate.

“Farm to Frame” Exhibition in Somerville, NJ

Standing next to my painting “Cow With Attitude” at the Farm to Frame artists reception

Where: Somerset County Administration Bldg, 20 Grove St, Somerville, NJ
When: March 9 – May 1, 2023
Artists Reception: March 24, 6-8pm

This initiative was organized by the Cultural and Heritage Commission of Somerset County. Over 30 artists were recruited and assigned to preserved farms in Somerset county where they had to be inspired to produce two works. I was assigned 2 Rivers Farm in Branchburg. The owners of this working farm were very friendly and invited me to paint plein air in the future. The farm was very large and beautiful. I produced two paintings: “Cow with Attitude” and “Another Day at the Farm“.

Update 3/28/23: Unfortunately, the artists reception was very crowded with people that didn’t seem too interested in the artwork. Unknown to me, this reception had been combined with a celebration of Agricultural Day and the art became secondary. Additionally, I was a little disappointed by the quality of the artwork as a whole with the exception of a handful of artists who seemed to be professionals.

Acrylic Painting Tip# 1: use acrylic medium to create washes instead of water

“Fried Egg on Oat Nut Toast”, 8″x6″, acrylic on canvas panel by Francisco Silva

This tip only applies when painting on surfaces that are gessoed.

It seems natural to use water to create thin, transparent layers of color while painting with acrylics, especially when creating an underpainting. Unfortunately, adding too much water will break down the acrylic binder that holds the pigment together. What this means is that, over time, the paint will detach (or flake off) from the surface. The general rule is to use a maximum of 30% water to 70% paint. To create thin layers, I use an acrylic airbrush medium instead. This gives me the transparency I would normally get with water without weakening the paint. Additionally, the airbrush medium’s viscosity is similar to that of water, making wash effects easier.

In the example above, I used thin washes on the table, background as well as the egg.

Experimenting with Acrylic Paints

Peanut Butter and Jelly on Oak Nut Break, 8″ x 6″, acrylic on canvas panel by Francisco Silva

I’m currently experimenting with acrylic paints with the intention of using them for plein air purposes. I believe acrylic’s quick drying time will work better with my paint layering technique as compared to oil paints. Since it’s still cold here in New Jersey, I’m creating small, 6″ x 8″, indoor paintings of food to test out my technique and work resolve any issues I may encounter with the medium. Additionally, these food-themed paintings have taken on a life of their own.

I’ll be posting my progress here as well as any tips or pitfalls that I run into.

“Night” Exhibit at Outliers Gallery in Jersey City, NJ

View of my paintings currently at Outliers Gallery.

Where: Outliers Gallery, Studio 150, #246, 150 Bay Street, Jersey City, NJ
When: January 1 – February 28

The Outliers are currently having an exhibition with a “nighttime” theme at our gallery at 150 Bay Street. The four participating artist are: Dorie Dahlberg, Ed Fausty, Brad Terhune and myself. Each of us have our unique interpretation of the theme and and the exhibit is worth a visit. I have 2 plein air paintings and 2 studio paintings as part of the show.