Fair Update

Rainbow elephants

Two weeks ago was the Montana state fair. I entered four pieces in to the fair. “Rainbow Elephants” and “Star Gazing” were the watercolor paintings I submitted into the professional division. Since the fair didn’t have a professional drawing division I entered two soft pastel paintings into the general drawing division. I entered the “Delicate Arch” piece into the surrealism category and the “Pink skies over Montana” into the realism category.

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Star Gazing – Watercolor

The first day of the fair was the artist open house. This is when all the artists participating can go see all the entries without fighting the crowds. I was originally planning on using this as a fun date with my husband while getting a babysitter for the kiddos. However, a change in dates for a family party caused us to have to leave town right after going to the open house. Lets just say bringing a toddler and two preshoolers to an art show is NOT my idea of a good time. It was about as relaxing as getting a pap smear. My oldest child did great and enjoyed seeing all the pieces being exhibited. The younger two liked touching everything and suffered from a condition, my Grandpa termed, “Painted on ears.” Thank goodness for the bench near the appetizer table that kept them semi occupied. This cut short my mingling and socializing time but I was able to meet a few local artists and see some impressive artwork. Some of the work that really caught my eye were landscape scenes created with dyed wool and other textiles. I have no idea how she created her pieces but they were magical. I really wish I could have written down the name of the artist because it was absolutely stunning.

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Delicate Arch – Pastel 

While there I found out that I won First place in the three categories. My Elephant painting won first for a surrealism watercolor painting in the professional division. The two pastel paintings also won first place in their respective categories. I was completely shocked that I won in each category I entered especially, when competing against other professional artists. This was my first time competing with other professional because last year’s state fair (in Idaho) I participated in the amateur division.

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Pink Skies Over Montana – Pastel 

This was such a good reminder to me to not let self-doubt and fear hold me back. Every so often I hear the whisperings of self doubt come into my mind saying things like “your not good enough.” “They wont like your paintings.” Etc. I usually shake them off pretty well by reminding my self of the truth. I have sold paintings and won awards so people obviously like my work. Even more importantly I love my work. I paint for the happiness I feel when I get in the flow/zen of creating and the pride I feel when its completed it. When I walk into my house and see my beautiful artwork hanging on my walls I am filled with joy. This fair was good reminder to just shake those fears away and not let them control life.

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-Lauren

Ps. I didn’t get a picture of me at the fair because the kids kept us so busy.  The joys of motherhood!

Chasing pink skies

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We first came up to the Billings area to look for housing it was the middle of winter. There was two feet of snow on the ground and it was surprisingly warmer than the southern Idaho we left. Billings was a roasting 5 degrees while Idaho was -25 degrees (not counting wind chill). One of the first things I noticed about Billings was the amazing sunsets you could see from the rim rocks. The sky was so massive that I instantly understood why Montana was called “the big sky state.” It was so big that the city seemed to disappear below me, making it feel like alone in the clouds with the golden sunset light shining on me. Seeing that sunset confirmed to me that Montana was the place I needed to go to develop my skills as an artist.

I had been to the western areas of Montana many times as a kid and had always been amazed by its beauty. We would drive through Yellowstone; go to through Bozeman, and then up to glacier national park. However, in all those travels we never went east of Bozeman. Having never seeing the plains side of the state I didn’t know what to expect. But seeing the farms, mountains in the distance, rolling hills, and snow made me feel right at home. Now it’s the height of summer and Billings still isn’t disappointing. The snow has melted away to reveal beautiful farmland growing things like barley and hay. Powerful thunderstorms roll in almost weekly. The magic that happens when the bright pink sunsets make the fields and rim rocks glow in its light.

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A few weeks ago we were leaving a friends house only to see the beautiful sunset. Instead of going home to put the kids to bed we decided to chase it.  We spent the hour driving around Billings snapping pictures of the sunset and basking in its glory. It was a fantastic way to spend a warm summer evening. That evening drive inspired me to pull out my pastels and do my first pastel painting of Montana. This will be the first of many paintings of Montana particularly, of the Billings area.

 

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