Pastels on the Plaza might just be the most weather dependent event Arcata has. There’s nothing like sitting in the middle of the town square from dawn till midday at the edge of winter, drawing with colored powder. This year brought the dreaded wind. Everything is going along fine a few hours in and then a gust plows through the plaza and throws all your highlights across neighboring artwork, eliciting a collective groan.
This year, I did a portrait of Esther for Genevieve Schmidt Landscape. She was a sweet old hen. We had her for many years, and she was old when we got her. I stopped sketching at the point I realized that the wind was taking things away from me faster than I could add them. Despite the wind, or maybe because of it, Â this was the fastest I’ve completed a pastel. I was 80% done in two hours, and then stuck around a while adding finishing touches.
Each year I try to add some sort of innovation to my process. This year it was a boxing glove on my off hand, so I wouldn’t have sore knuckles from leaning on concrete all morning. It worked great and will be back in my kit next year.
Next to me on one side was Leah Vaughn, doing a large square for Holly Yashi jewelry. This is twice the size of mine, but I think it would feel like four times the work. I’m always impressed when someone finishes one.
To my other side was Casey Vaughn with his epic square for Pizza Gago. The only way Pizza Gago could be any more awesome is if eagles really did deliver their pizzas.
The artist who does the Alibi is consistently excellent. I didn’t get a shot of the finished product because she was still working up near 2:00. She gets bonus points for not compromising her quality through adversity. If you click the picture to zoom in, you will see the toll the weather has taken. I’ve worked under that tree a few times. It’s great on the sunny days. Not so much in the wind or rain.
Humboldt Area Foundation is another one I’ve featured before. This one was signed Cat Erin and Jill. Whatever their division of labor was, the results came out awesome. Like the previous pastel, this is done with water and brushes. Whenever I’ve tried this, I’ve ended up with mud.
Here I was three squares away from Wallace and didn’t even notice or I would have stopped to say hello.
Never one to stay within the lines, Mike Craghead has been doing this near forever, and has consistently been one of the better squares. He was a couple squares down from me. The east side sets the bar high.
And some honorable mentions. There were several I just couldn’t get a good picture of due to crowds and shadows, so if you made an awesome square and it isn’t here, I’m sure that’s why.