This year my vantage point was from the landing on the central staircase of the ornate Chinese entry hall. In 1926, architect Robert C. Reamer and interior designer Gustav F. Liljestrom modeled this interior after three of Imperial China's most splendid structures: the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heavenly Peace and the Summer Palace. It was restored to its glory in 1980.
The great challenge for me in painting this venue is editing— every detail can barely be observed, much less rendered in likeness, in a few hours. I’m learning to simplify, becoming more impressionistic, and still keep the essentials necessary to record a memory of a place and an evening.
At benefit auctions, items rarely sell for more than their stated value. This is because donated items are often products available to the public at market price— a case of wine, a vacation package, etc. But I paint only one painting during the cocktail hour and silent auction each year. Several patrons noticed themselves depicted in the painting, and others had reasons to want to remember this particular event in a singular way.
Mine was the last item in the live auction, and bidding for the 30” x 40” painting started at $1500. In a flurry of raised paddles, the asking bid quickly passed the stated value of $3750 (For a complete list of my fees for event paintings, go here). The drama then slowed, and drew itself out as other patient bidders replaced the early contenders. There was spontaneous applause each time the price passed another thousand dollars, and sustained applause as the gavel came down at $7250.
I’m looking forward to doing this again next year.