Chuck Marshall won the top prize at the Finger Lakes Plein Air Festival in early June, and he tells us that getting the award-winning painting was a matter of waiting out the weather — and heeding some good advice.
“On that particular day when I found this scene to paint, it was very cold, very windy, and raining,” Marshall remembers. “As plein air painters, we deal with what we are given by Mother Nature. It’s all part of the experience. Hopefully those conditions translate in our work. Because it was raining, I searched out a location where I could paint out of the rain. One of the locations they gave us was this horse farm, where we were told we could get in a barn and paint.
“That sounded good enough—until it stopped raining, at least. I think I had on every particle of clothing I had, trying to stay warm. From the barn I was in I could see what looked like an interesting view. As soon as the rain seemed like it might stop, I drove in that direction, hoping it was worth taking the time to paint the view. I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the view was even though it was still a very gray scene. There was enough of a gravel pull-off that I could stop and set up. While I was painting, several people stopped by, either checking out what I was doing or asking if I was broken down.
“One of those people was George Van Hook. I had met this man the very first day and instantly liked him. I had no idea how good his art was, and it turned out to be awesome. But on this day, he stops, jumps out, comes over, and asks if I need anything — food, coffee, whatever. I was blown away by his generosity and kindness. He even gave me a tip: to turn my car around and face a different direction in order to block the strong winds. It worked out great, thanks to him. Of course I was able to finish the painting despite the odds from the weather.”


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