In 2017 I served as a visual arts judge for an ocean-themed, international student arts contest sponsored by Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs. The Ocean Awareness Contest is open to students aged 11-18 worldwide, and encourages students to explore the relationship between human systems, climate change, and our oceans. Students can submit visual art, poetry, prose, film, or music, and are eligible for cash prizes.
Although I had high expectations for the artwork entered into the contest, I was blown away by the caliber of entries in my category. For example - "Our Future" by Angelika Kolodziej took the top prize for High School Art. You can spend an endless amount of time poring through the details and references in the artwork, and how it highlights man's tumultuous relationship with nature. Congratulations to all the winners!
Bow Seat's Program Director, Alyssa Irizarry, recently interviewed me for their new "Meet a Judge" series. Thank you for the feature Bow Seat!
The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach. I have heard them all, and of the three elemental voices, that of ocean is the most awesome, beautiful and varied.
Henry Beston, The Outermost House
Seven adults piled into the pine green pickup, politely jockeying for seats in the truck bed like we were 16 again. Some of us packed light - a DSLR camera, snacks, and water - and others, much less so - oil painting supplies, an easel, turpentine. We were all strangers, but we were all on the same mission - capturing the strange, elemental beauty of Sandy Neck.
It was disorienting being so close to home yet feeling so far away. I looked south to see the Cape Cod beaches I visit so frequently, sailboats dotting the shoreline and swaying in the shallow water. I picked out my path to the water on a laminated map in the shack, slung my paint supplies over my shoulder, and set off on a solo trek with my watercolors
I walked until I hit the head of the trail. I found a good vantage point with different vegetation, colors, and enough space to plop down on my beach blanket and break out my palette.
I was quickly reminded of all the plein air painting 'hazards'. Immediately upon finishing my first painting, I was run over by two (friendly) terriers wandering the trails with their owner. I imagine they didn't expect to see anyone painting on a blanket in the middle of nowhere, so I could only get so annoyed at the sand in my paint. I took it as sign to change locations anyway, and climbed to the highest point I could.
I stayed at the top of the dune until the sun began to set, making small talk with campers staying in their RVs, and with Cape Codders who hike Sandy Neck every weekend. I finished my second watercolor with a silly-big smile on my face and trekked back to the Halfway House.
We shared our work while waiting for the pickup to return. (Note... bring lots of bug spray!) Although we had vastly different levels of experience - some were full-time, gallery-owning artists; others were recreational photographers or new to their medium - we all shared a deep appreciation for Cape Cod's natural beauty.
I have prints of both paintings available on Saltwater Palette, just in time for the holidays. :)