When officials at the Saginaw Art Museum were planning their multiple Quick Paint events for the Great Lakes Bay Plein Air event, they decided to inject some excitement by staging one at the old ballgame.

For one of their Quick Paint spots, the organizers had the artists painting at a Great Lakes Loons game at Dow Diamond in Midland, Michigan, a single-A baseball contest. The two winners at the event agreed that painting at a baseball game meant capturing some of the excitement of the game and the crowd.

“There was a great energy to the evening and in the atmosphere,” says Sharon Will, who won Second Place in the Quick Draw. “It was great fun to be a part of that.”

Sharon Will working in pastel at a single-A baseball game

Echoes First Place winner Sandra S. Difazio, “The high energy of the crowd somehow translated into the painting, as sensory elements in plein air pieces often do. I was a little reluctant to participate in it at first. For one thing, it was out of my comfort zone to paint in such a large crowd and in an environment I was unfamiliar with. Then, everything inspired me — it was tough to narrow down a site where I could create a painting in the allotted two-hour time frame. But it was an amazing experience.”

Sandra S. Difazio working in oil at the Quick Paint event at Dow Diamond

Will was similarly unenthralled with baseball before the Quick Paint. “Don’t ask me who was playing — I can only tell you the color of the uniforms,” says Will. “I don’t follow baseball and I don’t go to games — so it intrigued me.” Quickly, the challenge of painting a ballgame took over her thoughts. “There was so much going on — so many shapes and activities,” says Will. “I painted a large part of the stadium because I knew it would stay the same — I chose the light conditions right off the bat. Shadows did creep onto the field and I had to make the decision to keep it the way I originally saw it.”

Will says that she doesn’t usually paint as large as 11 x 14 inches, so pulling off a painting that size in two hours stretched her. One of her solutions was to only show a couple of the players on the field. “My drawing of the figures was loose — just a gesture,” says the Michigan artist. “I waited until they were standing in a position again, like the batter waiting to swing. The whole thing ended up a lot looser than what I usually paint. I had to do that — I didn’t have time to refine it. But I knew that if I slowed down at first and got the perspective of the building right, I could throw any color on there as long as I kept the right value.”

The winning painters found themselves shown on the giant video screen in the stadium.

Will says the artists were to start at 6 p.m., and deliver the paintings to tables the Saginaw Art Museum had set up by 8 p.m. The winners were immediately chosen, and Difazio and Will were brought down on the field to be honored between innings. “They made a lot of hoopla out of it,” says Will. “We were very much welcomed there. It was a great experience. Other artists had crowds of people around them, watching. I was really oblivious to what was going on around me.”

Difazio and Will with the Great Lakes Loons mascot

The organizers of the event shared some of the sentiments of the Quick Paint judge, who said that Difazio’s piece won because it was “a dynamite job of composition capturing the field,” also pointing to her paint application, saying, “less is more when it comes to brushstrokes.”

The judge said Will did a good job of showing the saturation of color in the scene while making the overall atmosphere look natural.


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