Watch artists capture our local landscape: Plein Air Festival underway

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 11:16 AM EDT
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You’ve seen beautiful views across our part of South Florida, and now you can watch artists capture it on canvas right before your eyes.

The Lighthouse ArtCenter's 9th Annual Plein Air Festival includes award-winning artists from all over the country for live demonstrations, workshops and the chance for patrons to purchase the pieces before they're even dry. Organizers say 130 artists applied but 30 were selected to participate.

Painting “en plein air” was a common approach among the French Impressionists. It typically means an artist is propped up to paint a landscape scene outdoors as it stretches before them. The work is turned out quickly, and available for purchase.

“This show changes every day from morning until night. They bring me their wet pieces every day, so for me it takes about six months to get over this show because everything is wet, it has to be handled with such care. But in the morning I’ll have so many pieces, and by that night, so many more,” explained curator Janeen Mason.

The demonstrations are in picturesque spots across Palm Beach and Martin counties. There are also competitions through the week.

“There’s some serious prize money involved in this show, we have $20,000 worth of awards on the line, and boy does that attract spectacular talent,” Mason said.

Painting en plein air means artists must handle changing light, weather and scenery. Patrons can walk up to ask the artist questions as they work or simply watch for a while. At a gallery event Wednesday, artist Nicole Newsted painted in the middle of the bustling gallery space as people looked on and asked questions. Her piece was sold in a raffle before it was even complete. What some artists might find intimidating, Newsted finds invigorating.

“It’s kind of refreshing actually because I’m a studio painter for the most part so I’m by myself all the time, so I actually don’t mind it at all, I kind of love talking to people about it,” Newsted said.

The process requires that an artist be able to keep focus on their work, even when interrupted.

“People are coming and asking questions about the process, and always about my underpainting, because it’s that really bright pink color, everyone wants to know where that’s going to go. And so yeah, it’s kind of similar, and you just kind of get right back to it,” Newsted said.

The end of the event wraps with a Collectors’ Party and Sale at the Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery on April 1. April 2 there is an art sale and live painting competition called the “Battle of the Brushes.” The same day, awards will be announced.

The art will be displayed and is available for purchase at Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery at 373 Tequesta Drive in Tequesta. For a full list of events, click here.

Mason says the artists involved are top notch this year, and definitely worth a look.

“It’s so exciting, you can feel the energy in the gallery raise. Some of them have been with us before. Some of them are brand new. And only a few of them are actually local,” Mason said.

Scripps Only Content 2022