The weekend of October 17th (2 weeks ago now) was the opening reception for Oil Painters of America's 2008 Eastern Regional Exhibition. This year's event was hosted by Richland Fine Art in Nashville, Tennessee, and since Nashville is a fairly easy drive from Atlanta, of course we had to go!
The gallery was packed when we got there, with the crowd spilling out into the lobby of the posh, high-end shopping center where Richland Fine Art is located. There were so many wonderful paintings there and, as cliche' as it sounds, it was truly an honor just to be included in the show. (I found out that evening that more than 800 pieces had been submitted, but only 94 were accepted!) We could have stayed for hours more just to be able to closely look at everything. I'm sure we missed a lot - the crowds made it a little difficult to spend time with any one piece.
This was the first OPA event we've been able to attend and it was really nice to meet so many of the artists. A representative from American Art Collector magazine was there taking pictures, there was live harp music in the lobby and talk, introductions and laughter flowed freely.
Dinner for everyone followed at a great restaurant just a few doors down from the gallery. We were joined at our table by David Hettinger, an OPA Master Signature member and the awards judge for the show. He told some great art school anecdotes from his youth and he and Charles swapped David Leffel stories back and forth. He was a great sport and very pleasant company. His plan was to leave town early the next morning, take the back roads and paint his way home! I hope he had a great trip.
Bright and early Saturday morning many of the group were at Belle Meade Plantation for a group paint-out. Nashville-area artist Dawn Whitelaw had graciously made all the arrangements. The weather was perfect with only a few clouds rolling through in the afternoon. There were at least 15 painters scattered throughout the grounds of the plantation that morning. Several hours later most everyone met for a lunch break to chat and compare notes. The main house, various outbuildings and barns, the gardens, the family crypt (now empty) and Richland creek (which runs along the front of the property) were all captured in paint that day.
Charles finished 2 paintings - the main house with fall foliage in the morning sun and the old stone dairy building in the afternoon. (Once he's added the finishing touches and signed them, I'll post them here on the blog.) We left in the late afternoon weary and energized at the same time, with 2 beautiful little paintings and several new friends.
Our early start the next morning got delayed by a bit of antiquing on the way home. We came out with several little treasures which I'm sure will soon find their way into some of Charles' new still-life paintings! It was a great way to wrap up a wonderful weekend.