Robin Purcell’s painting “Where They Ride Horses” won the Best Watercolor award at the 2015 Carmel Arts Festival, but her process is not something many will want to replicate.
She got caught in the rain. There’s nothing particularly novel about that, although rain heavy enough to turn a watercolorist’s palette into a lake is a serious matter indeed when competing in a plein air competition. Nevertheless, Purcell pulled off a good one — one so good that judge Ken Auster gave her the top prize in her medium. How she got there was a road that was a bit bumpy — and woozy.
“I gathered up my gear, and as I drove away, something stung me hard on my leg. I shook out my pants and a large red ant fell out; it had probably climbed up to get out of the rain,” Purcell recalls. “The welt was large and painful and growing fast, so I took an antihistamine to stop the reaction and I fell asleep. The next morning I was still very drowsy, but it was sunny so I dragged myself out to paint and told myself I’ll just stay two hours and see what happens. I was so tired I was hanging on to the easel for support. And I simplified the scene as much as I dared. This was the painting that won Best Watercolor.”


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