photo by Larry Mayer of the Billings Gazette (2nd time I've been featured in that paper in 2 weeks)

photo by Larry Mayer of the Billings Gazette (2nd time I’ve been featured in that paper in 2 weeks)

Over 800 artists submitted to the Yellowstone Art Museum auction this year.  I haven’t participated in eleven years so I must say it felt like a bit of an honor to be both included with 56 other artists in the live auction.  I was also asked to participate with a few artists in the Quick Draw event.  But just what could I create in 60 minutes?  Yes – I can draw.  Yes – I can paint.  But I wanted to relate my quick draw piece to the reliquary sculpture in the live auction.  Just last month I explored some of the energy and ideas behind the big sculptures in a small piece for the “Trophy Art” fundraiser for the National Museum of Wildlife Art.  I decided to continue my exploration by hand carving a frame for the quick draw and then completing the piece by painting during the 60 minutes allowed at the event.  I had the intention to experiment with paint and materials in February before the March 1 auction but that intent was gobbled up by a few weeks dealing with the crud where I was too sick to be in the studio.  I ended up pulling a twelve-hour day in the studio to create the frame (while under the influence of antibiotics and cold medicine).  Momma Nature was in a blizzard mood with temps double digits below zero when I packed my truck with art supplies.

The finished piece - a mixed media painting in a carved frame (I made the frame before the event)

The finished piece – a mixed media painting in a carved frame (I made the frame before the event)

Zaydee and I took off in the storm with poor and sometimes totally zero visibility to drive on roads declared “emergency use only” but we got to Billings.  One semi knocked over a telephone pole when it rolled off the road, another blocked both lanes for a few hours when it jack-knifed on the interstate.  Just as I turned off the exit into downtown Billings, a truck the same size as mine knocked over a giant street lamp.  Luckily dear friends had opened their cozy art-filled home (while they were out of town) so Zaydee had a warm place to hang and we had a comfortable place to stay.

I gussied up for the big event, pulled on an apron and proceeded to totally “wing it” at the Quick Draw.  I painted, drilled, glued and created under-the-gun during the 60 minute event with a combination of totally new materials in front of an enthusiastic and friendly audience.  Good energy and plenty of interruptions as folks stopped to chat – it was certainly challenging.  The memory of the event from the safe side of having it completed makes me believe it was fun.  I would have liked to chatted with peeps more and it might have been nice to have a familiar formula or plenty of practice or something but all-in-all if you know me, you know I like challenges and the opportunity to try new things but I must say, “Phew!”

Despite being on antibiotics and trying desperately to regain my pre-crud super healthy self, I did let Troy Evans buy me a drink with whiskey after completing the art piece and before I had to walk on stage holding the art like Vanna White while the auctioneer did his thing.

The good news is – the auction had its best attendance in over eleven years despite the frigid temps.  The quick draw piece not only raised money for the museum but it spurred a whole new realm of creative possibilities which I cheerfully thought about while driving home from Billings the following day.  The roads were icy from the storm but visibility was super compared to the blizzard.  Ditches were dotted with carnage of vehicles and semis but the sky was blue, the sun was shining and my creative gears were turning.  Oh – and the Billings Gazette featured a photo of me in the article about the auction.  Sweet.