2023 Carmel Art Festival

“The Carmel Art Festival in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, is an extraordinary celebration of artistic talent and the beauty of the coastal landscape. Every year, this renowned event brings together artists and art enthusiasts from around the world to showcase and appreciate a diverse range of artistic expressions. With its charming streets and stunning ocean views, Carmel-by-the-Sea serves as the perfect backdrop for this captivating festival. Visitors can immerse themselves in a vibrant atmosphere filled with creativity, as they explore the exceptional artworks on display, engage with the artists, and participate in various interactive events. The Carmel Art Festival is a true testament to the profound impact of art, fostering inspiration and forging connections between artists and the local community.”

— ChatGPT

This year is the 30th anniversary of the Carmel Art Festival, and instead of jurying in participants, they invited past award winners for the show.  I have won a number of awards over the years, so I was automatically in, but it was certainly going to be a pretty stiff competition!  As it turned out, about 40 past award winners opted in, so they juried another 20 artists for a total of 60.

I have been participating the the Carmel Art Festival about every year since 2006.  There have been ups and downs both in sales, and awards, but is always a rewarding experience.    This year, since we live near Carmel, I didn’t need to travel, stay in a motel, and had the convenience of my home studio where I could do final touchup and framing, etc.

Day 1 – Wednesday May 17

During a competition/show like this, you have a number of days to create paintings which are then sold or auctioned off. At the start of the event, the painting surfaces, such as canvases or panels, are stamped or marked to verify that all artwork is created within the designated time frame. After checking in Wednesday morning, and having my canvases stamped, I headed down the Big Sur Coast for my first painting.  I had spotted a scene last week near Rocky Creek Bridge while on a Harley ride, which looked inviting to paint.  It was overcast, but clearing, and hoped the coastline would be sunny.  Well, it wasn’t, but the fog drifted in and out, sometimes totally blocking the scene, but occasionally the sun did break through which gave me enough to complete the painting.  

Next stop was Ft Ord Dunes State Park, a familiar location, not far from our house, which I walk by 2-3 times a week on our coastal dunes walking.  I did a studio painting of the scene several years ago, but never a plein air on location.  It was still overcast, but the sun peeked out occasionally.

Last stop for the day, was Del Monte Beach, where I started a nocturne of Monterey Bay with the town of Monterey in the background.  Again, I did a studio painting of this several years ago, but never a plein air.

It was an exhausting day, but I got 3 paintings near completion.

Day 2 – Thursday May 18

It was foggy and overcast again, so I spent the morning touching up the prior day’s pieces.  In the afternoon, I ventured out, and went to Pacific Grove to paint the coastal ice plant…always a favorite among collectors.   I only got about half done with the piece, and eventually decided not to put it in the show.  I’ll go back at a later date and finish it as I liked the scene, light, and colors.

Day 3 – Friday May 19

We had to deliver our just completed paintings to the festival by 2 pm, so I spent the morning framing, photographing, and prepping the three pieces. Here are the three paintings I entered in the show. Click on each one to see a larger, more complete version.

After delivery to the show in downtown Carmel, it was home to get ready for the afternoon and evening activities.  Returning to the show, found out I was honored with People’s Choice award for the Ft Ord Dunes painting, and it sold right away!  The collectors run a gallery in Texas, and since I spent my formative years in Texas, we immediately made a connection!

That evening, a VIP event was hosted with wine and small plates served. I had invited a few friends/collectors to celebrate with us, and it was a delightful evening.

Day 4 & 5 – May 20-21

The next two days of the show were fairly uneventful as I only stopped by occasionally to see how things were going. All-in-all, it was a great event, and a great, but tiring time!

Stay tuned.  Next show is at the John Steinbeck Museum!