Howard Friedland giving demo at 2017 OPA Eastern Regional

Just got back from a few days attending the opening of the 2017 Oil Painters of America (OPA) Eastern Regional show. This event included several days of plein air painting around St. Simons Island, Georgia; and watching demos by some of the master artists – Marc Hanson, Howard Friedland, Katie Dobson Cundiff, and OPA president John Michael Carter.

Of course they were inspirational. Masterful. The best at what they do. And that’s why I’m always surprised that they are so down to earth. And they love to laugh. A lot.

It started with a lovely little yellow paint tube I received in my goodie bag at registration. I didn’t recognize the maker. So I looked closer. I was surprised to see it was an acrylic. Made me think. Was this some new technique the oil painting group was exploring? Were they mixing acrylic and oil somehow? Probably not. But I had to ask. The OPA exec, Kathryn, answered with a gut-wrenching guffaw. “Did we give you an acrylic tube? So sorry! I didn’t know we had these!” She replaced it with a proper sample tube of Gamblin Ultramarine.

John Michael Carter demo with model at 2017 Eastern Regional

I giggled throughout the demos. These master artists sure know how to hold an audience. Oh, and they painted well, too. And the last evening a few of us sat outside by the fire, and belly laughed for a couple of hours about nothing important. Awesome.

You know my biggest takeaway from this experience, don’t you? Laugh more often!

— Mary Hubley