On Thursday Papa, Nick, my lifelong friend from college and myself ventured down to Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown, R.I. to do some hiking by the sea. When we arrived we were surprised to hear that throughout the week the Newport Art Museum was running a program called "Wet Knees 2007" at the Refuge. This is a benefit for the museum where artists (photographers and painters) come to the Refuge and produce art on site.
We were excited as we walked the trail outside the main Visitor's Building to see artists of all ages enjoying their craft. Most of them had just a small little backpack with their paints and supplies... all that they needed to record a feeling or a vision of a landscape at the Refuge that ignited their soul.
At the end of the day these same artists joined William Vareika on the grassy knoll in front of the Visitor's Center where he critiqued each piece. You could tell he was a true teacher because he always first looked for all the positive aspects of the painting and then he went on to discuss what the artists could do to enhance the quality of the piece.
He might talk about composition with one artist or color mixing with another. He might talk about "finishing off the edges" with yet another. At times, he would refer the artist to a well-known artist that they might study. His wealth of knowledge about art and painters was unbelieveable. Being lay people, Papa, Nick and I relished this time of stepping into the world of art.
On Friday morning all the pieces that were created during "Wet Paint 2007" week were hung in the Center and that evening a Benefit Preview Party was held from 7-10 pm where people could bid on individual pieces at a silent auction. Silent bidding continued on Saturday morn followed by a live auction at 1:30 P.M. All proceeds would benefit the Museum's Acquisition fund. What an absolutely creative way to raise money for the arts!