I have always found studio tours to be an exciting experience. As the event approaches, the air is charged with anticipation, peaking in a last minute whirlwind of creativity. The big weekend arrives and the hours fly by with laughter, good company, and the rewarding transfer of paintings from artist to patron.
The 2015 Whidbey Working Artists Summer Studio Tour lived up to all of that......and more. A hint of what was yet to come surfaced a few days before the event with a peculiar weather forecast. Ominous talk about a powerful weekend storm complete with BIG wind. In August? Surely a forecasting error.
Yet, on August 29, at 9:00 am, as I put the finishing touches on the food and flowers, calm weather gave way to sudden, powerful wind gusts. As the first guests arrived, trees were blowing sideways and lights were blinking frequently, with the threat of a power outage lurking behind each flicker. But the power lines held, and people kept coming, blowing in through the door of the creaking 120 year old school house.
By noon, it was clear that we were under seige, experiencing a historic winter type wind storm....in summer. Check out the stats: wind gusts up to 50 mph over Puget Sound, 60-70 mph over NW Washington, and up to 90 mph in coastal areas. Power outages affected over half a million people. Several major roads were closed and the greater Seatte area was paralyzed. On Whidbey Island, several gas stations were inoperable, ATM's were down, water pumps were out, and partially lit generator powered stores struggled to stay open.
At 1:00 pm, our power finally went out with a final gust and groan, and the warm halogen studio lighting gave way to flat, gray storm light. Thankfully, between the bright colors of the new series of paintings (ironically titled Forever Summer), and the tall 1890's style windows in the studio, there was still plenty of light and color. Surprisingly, painting sales and workshop registrations continued throughout the power outage. Wow! But best of all was the great attitude and sense of adventure that everyone had throughout the storm. True patrons of the arts!
By Sunday, the power returned, and we had another great turnout. To celebrate the return of power, an encaustic painting station was set up, and guests painted with hot pigmented beeswax and blow torches throughout the day.
After all was said and blown, it was great fun to debut a series titled Forever Summer as fall attempted to crash our party. But art speaks, and on that day, the paintings and patrons had the last word. Thanks to all for your support, especially while ducking falling branches, gale force pine needle showers and flying fish.