Barbara Benda Nagle, Moorhead, Minnesota, took the Best of Show award this year in the Rural Art Show at the Red Door Art Gallery. A reception was held Thursday, Aug. 15 where guests could visit with participating artists and the winners were announced.
Benda Nagle’s watercolor piece, “J & S Farmer’s Mill,” was picked for the top award, and she noted it was the first time she’d ever had a work be chosen as Best of Show.
A retired educator and Wahpeton native, she now teaches art workshops around the Red River Valley.
“This piece is in Barnesville,” she said, as she explained how she came about choosing the image.
“My husband has a classic car, ’64 Galaxy 500, and we were on our way to a car show in Fergus. A group of guys wanted to caravan the cars through Barnesville. I saw the scene of the mill, and a white truck was coming out,” she explained. “The light was hitting it perfectly, the light was hitting the roof of the mill or elevator, perfectly and I said, stop! I have to get a photo of this. He said, we can’t stop we’re in a caravan!”
She made a note to go back later to view the scene again.
“I returned another day, same time of day, and took my plein air easel, and parked across the street from the elevator at 7 o’clock in the morning and started painting studies,” Benda Nagle said.
She first does the studies in black and white to show the values and create a mood. Elevators are difficult to sketch as they have different perspectives on rooflines, she said, but she wanted to capture her excitement when she saw the light hitting the roof.
“Before long a man came outside with a camera and wanted to do a story on me,” she said. “I didn’t realize I’d set up my easel right outside the Barnesville newspaper.”
She said it’s hard to plein air paint and visit at the same time. She later took her studies home and tried it in various color schemes, finally landing on a version with a pale yellow…