Natural Art: Plein Air Festival

Plein Air Festival - Lighthouse ArtCenter - Ted Matz - My Alligator Alley

My Alligator Alley by Ted Matz, Plein Air Festival co-chair.

From March 12-15, award-winning en plein air artists hailing from 18 different states will be headed to Palm Beach County for the second annual Plein Air Festival. Hosted by the Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta, artists will paint on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at select locations—The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, and Riverbend Park and Harbourside Place, both in Jupiter. The community is encouraged to join the artists on location to watch as they capture the scene on canvas and paper.

   Though en plein air painting, “in the open air” in French, has long been a painting technique for artists, it grew to prominence in the mid-nineteenth century when new technologies made for easier access to place for the artists. Metal paint tubes and the French easel box made it much easier for artists to break free from the studio and get outside, where new techniques and movements began to take shape (like Impressionism) as the artists strove to capture the intricacies of natural light. From Monet’s water lilies of Giverny to the bucolic landscapes of the Hudson River School, en plein air has given artists direct connection to a sense of place, a technique that continues on today.

   Lighthouse ArtCenter’s second annual Plein Air Festival will show how things have remained much the same since those first strokes found canvas in the French countryside. In total, 50 juried artists will take part in the festival, each bringing their own unique technique and vision when depicting to our local land and seascapes. After two days of painting, awards, as chosen by Marisa Pasucci (curator of Boca Museum of Art), Morgan Samuel Price (artist and instructor), and Glenn Tomilnson (curator at the Norton Museum of Art), will be presented on Sunday, March 15 at the ArtCenter, which will doubly act as the gallery exhibition opening, on view through March 28.

Events surrounding the second annual Plein Air Festival include:

Artist Dennis Young - Plein Air Festival - Lighthouse ArtCenter

Artist Dennis Young painting the scene at DuBois Park during the inaugural Plein Air Festival in 2014.

Thursday, March 12

Kids Paint Out: From 1-3 p.m., kids are invited to try their hand at painting en plein air as the festival kicks off. Location: Lighthouse ArtCenter School of Art; free for the public.

Meet the Artists: The festival formally begins with an artist meet and greet at the Lighthouse ArtCenter galleries from 5-7 p.m. Mingle with participating juried artists as they hold impromptu Q&As on plein air painting. Admission: $5; free for members.

Friday and Saturday, March 13-14

Artist Demonstrations: The public is invited to watch the creations in progress from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on location at Riverbend Park, Harbourside Place and Society of the Four Arts Garden.

Following Friday’s painting session, head to the ArtCenter galleries for a “Peek at the Day’s Painting,” from 6-7 p.m. Admission is free.

Following Saturday’s painting session, interested buyers and art enthusiasts have the opportunity for a chance to purchase their favorite work at the Collectors’ Preview and Cocktail Reception, from 6-8 p.m. Admission costs $50, which includes a $50 art purchase certificate.

Sunday, March 15

Quick Draw Contest: All artists are invited to register for this lightning-fast contest taking place in picturesque Dubois Park. Who has the fastest hand in the East? From 9 a.m.-12 p.m., find out during this “battle of the brushes!” Free to public.

Awards Reception and Art Sale: Join the artists as the panel of judges decides the best of the plein air pieces from 3-6 p.m. This is also the chance for the general public to snap up a personal masterpiece.

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