"Overcast Day, New Iberia," by Mary Monk, 2017, pastel 12 x 18 in. First Place in the 2017 Shadows-on-the-Teche Plein Air Competition

No sun? No problem for Mary Monk. Overcast days at the Shadows-on-the-Teche Plein Air Competition did not deter the Louisiana oil painter.

It was very overcast the entire event; not the dark stormy skies that you could make a dramatic painting with but the kind that forms a sheet in the sky for most of the day causing a very dreary mood. I had to find something that had enough interest without the drama of light. I came the day before the event just to have time to drive around and find some painting locations.

It was a lovely place to paint. The street was not too busy. I spent two days painting there for several hours. I love rural scenes in particular so New Iberia is full of subject matter that I love. I look forward to this event every year because they allow you to go out and choose what inspires you instead of making you paint their choice of subject matter. I think this is the best way to get the best artwork from each artist.

Why did she pick this view? “I would say the composition is what attracted me most. I loved the way the canal directed your eye and in the slight distance you can see a little walk bridge over grown with a vine catching the sunlight further directing the eye inward. There were trees in varying distances providing interest in the back ground and to the right there was a very subtle indication of a sugar cane field so the eye traveled around the canvas as needed. Another thing that attracted me to the scene was the stillness of the water and the reflections with bits of leaves and roots in it as it reflected the green of the trees above it.”

John Porter Lasater IV served as judge. He was unequivocal about the choice of Monk’s painting for First Place at Shadows-on-the-Teche. “Mary’s piece had a subtle beauty,” comments Lasater. “It didn’t dazzle in the way a sunset does, it had emotional depth and honesty. Mary simplified her values and form and made a stellar design.”

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