My Plein Air Painting Adventure

2018 East Beach Plein Air PaintingLast weekend (April 13-15, 2018), I had the opportunity to paint outside in East Beach Norfolk, Virginia. Plein air painting involves leaving the studio and painting in the landscape. Most of you may know I have not done this sort of art since I was a water colorist decades ago. Currently, I do my thing in my studio surrounded by my files of reference material, piles of categorized hard copy photos dating back to the 70s, digitized photos (16,000 and counting on my computer or in the cloud), as well as any and all art supplies, canvases, paints,inks, gel medium, printed material for collages, and drawing implements. I paint, collate, collage, paint over, scrub it out, throw paint around using my gloved hands as well as my brushes, dance to my music or scream at TV news all while creating.

Plein air is different. You have to tote your supplies, including your easel, paints, and canvases. You have to remember your water, your hat, your sunscreen, sun glasses and check out proximity to the closest restroom. Your subject matter is generally stationary. Since my forte is action, painting outside here is difficult for me.

The organizers for the East Beach Plein Air Painting Escape do a phenomenal job of dealing with artists who don’t know each other, neighbors who are to house out of town artists, planning food and other accommodations for us, planning a dinner, and marketing and then hosting an art display and sales event. All this while hoping the weekend is as beautiful as this past week was. The fundraising is for the Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters (CHKD)  so success is important. Congratulations to the organizers on a job well done.

Back to me. The main point of my art revolves around my thought process and how I can present emotion.I long ago abandoned painting directly from the photograph. I don’t copy photos. I use them as take off points. For example this weekend I photoed a rusted gate. That became a design element for my imagined dancing figures. Colors are meant to be changed. I generally avoid panoramic use in favor of close-up details that expand to become less recognizable. I can foresee painting a large flower and embedding my figures. So basically I am a faux plein air painter.

Behind the Gates

However I can appreciate the other plein air painters’ unique form of art. It is a tough way to paint. On Friday, the glare was formidable and the wind was blowing so hard. The sand on the beach became a barrage of mini needles. I saw the wind take a fresh painted oil and throw it face down in the sand. While I might have used the sand as a textual element I know the artist was frustrated with what had happened and elected to start over again.

My most comfortable painting experience was perched in front of a live oak quite near my car. I was in the shade with a cool morning breeze while volunteers in golf carts came by with water and snacks.

My plein air colleagues exhibit incredible patience and discipline -selecting their subjects and rendering them so that everyone knows exactly where the location is yet they can see art and not a photo. I lack these traits of discipline and I am not methodical. I am very impulsive and love the art of throwing paint around. So I guess I am not cut out to be a plein air artist. Though I would love to be part of the event again, but set up inside somewhere. That way I could enjoy their company, and paint my little heart out.

East Beach Plein Air Painting Artists

Meet Up with your Favorite Artist

East Beach Plein Air Art Escape

We’re all ready for a bit spring and some warmer days!  This coming weekend, I’ll be painting at the East Beach Plein Air Art Escape along with twenty of the top Plein Air artists on the East Coast.  We’ll be offering the paintings we do during the event for auction on Sunday.  Proceeds go to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

I’ll be posting where I am on my Facebook page.  Come by and say hello.  We can sit and chat as I paint.

WHEN:  Friday, April 13 – Sunday, April 15

WHERE:  East Beach Bayfront Club, 4550 East Beach Dr, ​Norfolk, VA 23518

ART SHOW & LIVE AUCTION:  Sunday, April 15 | 4:00 – 5:30pm

More info

Painting at the East Beach Plein Air Painting Escape

An Afternoon with Gloria Coker

Did you know I have many of my paintings displayed at Associates in Dermatology?  If you’re interested in a personal viewing of the paintings with me, come join me on Wednesday, May 9th.  I may even be painting in the Waiting Room while I’m there.

WHEN:  Wednesday, May 9th

TIME:  12:30pm – 2:00pm

WHERE:  17 Manhattan Square, Hampton, VA 23666 (Directions)

 

Saying Goodbye to a Great Influence

This morning I learned that Fred Adair has died. Fred was my professor and mentor when I was at the College of William and Mary for my MEd in counseling and guidance. He was the one who supported me during those crucial days in 1972 when I was a feminist in a conservative area (I was removed from my internship at Warwick High School because of my progressive thoughts on women).  He helped me decide to pursue art instead and to accept the illustrator position at the Daily Press.

Fred was the essence of everything superlative one could say about another person. Kind, intelligent, funny, supportive … I could go on and on. We kept in touch throughout the years and I will miss him.

Message from W&M Provost

An Artist Sharing About Life, Part 1

Artist sharing about life at SWCCA few weekends ago,  I gave a talk at Southwest Virginia Community College just before taking down my art display. You think college, you think college students, but there were alas only two that Sunday afternoon. But who could blame them.  It was a gorgeous spring day in the Virginia mountains.

I was going to lead with a brief … what can a wrinkled old artist from Newport News teach you about the art you will be creating in the future …  then taking back the word “wrinkled” in lieu of texture which is much more artistically valued. Everyone in my audience was wrinkled.  Instead I was forced to finesse that opening a bit. 

I almost broke out in a sweat.

I was thinking back to a  time when I was doing my art without an iPhone camera for photos and no scanners for the art to be published.  It was a time you were required to actually draw.  There was no social media and Google to expand your files of ideas and reference material.   I am not sure any current college-age student would even begin to appreciate the difficulties in reproducing art (which is what I did for 12 years as a newspaper illustrator). Wait.  I am getting ahead of myself.

I was a commuter to college. 

Campus was two buses each way. Since my immigrant parents did not think continuing education was a good thing for a girl who should get a job, bring home her paycheck and live at home, I managed to pay for college through scholarships.  In my scholarship application, I wrote about being a first generation American and my life.  Guess I pulled enough sympathy from those who did the selecting that I got my education taken care of.  I  also worked after classes to have pin money.

I majored in Psychology. 

I was naive.  I loved the course selection, but did not realize you can do nothing without obtaining a graduate degree.  I got a job at Electric Boat in New London, Connecticut.  I spent my time there organizing the library for the Human Factors section.  It was books and papers.

About the jumper off the sixth floor?

I met a submarine doctor.  We got married, and moved to Houston.  There I worked at a charity hospital as a psychiatric social worker.  Once again, I had no experience.   I screened patients who had mental issues. 

Lock your door there’s a guy with knife.
Did you hear about the jumper from the 6th floor?
Good news is he did not land on the folks waiting for the bus.
Very interesting place.

I also schlepped patients from the ER to the mental institution. 

How do I know he is mentally ill?
Talk to him for 5 minutes. 
He’s probably just an alcoholic (think not really dangerous).

Me, a 28 year old mom, with complete strangers in the backseat of our Chevy Malibu.  Me, signing my name, affirming they needed to be committed. I almost breakout just thinking about it.

Then we moved to Duke and then to Virginia. 

By now I’ve had 2 babies.

Everyone at that time was a stay at home mom, but I enrolled in William and Mary College for a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling.  It took 4 years.

The Feminist movement just beginning. I was active. I got fired from an internship at a local high school for encouraging girls to ask for a shop class. The girls came to me. But the principal and the department heads were very threatened.

All in all, my hard-earned degree did not matter since I took a part-time job as an illustrator for daily paper.  Actually, it was more like the morning and evening paper with full-time work for part-time pay.  But I loved it.  Every story for the newsroom was a challenge. 

Stay tuned for more in Part 2 next week.

Artist Reception at TNCC

In case you missed the delightful Artist Reception at TNCC last month, the folks at the Visual Arts department at Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) put together a lovely video.  I wanted to share it with you . . .

Thanks to everyone who made the time to come out to see the exhibit and hear me share about my time at the Daily Press.

Oh, and in case you didn’t hear yet . . .

Back by popular demand, I’m hosting my Holiday Art Show and Sale on Friday, November 4, 2016.  Hope to see you there!

Sharing Stories from my Past in Daily Press Interview

For my coming up Artist Presentation and Exhibition at TNCC (Thomas Nelson Community College), Natalie Joseph, from the Daily Press, interviewed me about my previous experience as a newspaper illustrator.  Here’s a peak …

Talk of the Tongue discussed at Daily Press InterviewSomeone could spend all day listening to Gloria Coker’s stories.

As she prepares for her art exhibition and career presentation at Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) on Monday, she recalls the many tales behind over 30 years of work.

For the first time, Coker will tell a new story, showcasing news and courtroom art from her days as an illustrator at the Daily Press in the 1980s and early ’90s.

She spent more than 10 years as an illustrator, earning the job with no formal art training. She has two stories she highlights of her time in the courthouse. She covered the 1985 trial of retired Navy officer Arthur Walker, who was convicted as part of a family espionage case that included his brother, John Walker. She also recalls the moment a policeman called to inform her that an one of her illustrations led to the arrest of an escaped man from death row.

For the video and rest of the Daily Press Interview, visit the Daily Press.

Odd Family Thanksgiving Newspaper Illustration

Thomas Nelson Community College Exhibition and Artist Presentation

Come join artist, Gloria Coker, for an exhibition and artist presentation close to home at the Thomas Nelson Community College.

Would love to have you come by!  Here’s the scoop:

Where:  Thomas Nelson Community College, Templin Hall
99 Thomas Nelson Dr, Hampton, VA 23666 ( directions / map)

Date:  Monday, September 26, 2016

Time:  5:30 PM

Artist Presentation:  In Mary T. Christian Auditorium

Thomas Nelson Community College Exhibition and Artist Presentation