Arts and Entertainment

Artists paint in the plein air of Whidbey

Artist David Marty of Edmonds paints along Coupeville’s Front Street Thursday morning.  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Artist David Marty of Edmonds paints along Coupeville’s Front Street Thursday morning.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

This year’s Plein Air Painters’ U.S. Open is coming to an end and the public’s only chance to see the artworks is at the gala and auction tonight, Sept. 12 at the historic Crockett Barn.

For the past week, both professional and amateur artists have scattered across Whidbey Island to paint “en plein air;” a French term meaning “out of doors.”

The event is a race against time and natural sunlight to capture the landscape before the scene changes.

About 93 artists registered this year, and they will each have at least one painting featured in tonight’s show.

The gala will support the Pacific Northwest Art School. Sue Symons, executive director, said they expect to raise about $8,000 for the school and $27,000 overall. About two-thirds of the money will go toward the artists.

In past years, event organizers held a second art showing at the Coupeville Rec Hall, but this year, the gala is the only time to see the paintings.

There are still tickets available for sale at the door, Symons said.

Some of the popular artist spots for 2009 included Bowman Park near Deception Pass Bridge, the alfalfa fields near Engle Road, Snakelum Point and Captain Whidbey Inn, where Captain John Stone moored his old, wooden schooner.

The weather hasn’t deterred many artists, Symons said. There was some light rain Wednesday afternoon, and a couple of overcast days.

“It’s been off and on but today they’ve been excited because they like blowing fog as long as there’s sun,” Symons said Thursday.

Graphic designer David Marty of Edmonds painted on another popular site Thursday morning; historic, downtown Coupeville. He said passing drivers have been polite and he hasn’t run into too many curious people. He usually paints in rural areas.

“It’s great to get out in the elements. It’s helpful to be here rather than painting from a photo,” Marty said.

Along with first-time painters, many professional artists will be featured at tonight’s gala. They include Teresa Saia, Alfred Courrier, Jim Lamb, Nicholas Oberling, Michael Clements, James Moore and Mike Wise.

All of the art is submitted for judging and several pieces are selected for awards, including the new award “Rookie of the Year.” The top award winners will have their art sold in a live auction led by Jim Freeman.

The remaining paintings will be sold in the silent auction. This year’s juror is internationally renowned artist Xiaogang Zhu.

Each of the paintings will be professionally framed and some of the oil paintings might still be wet if they were created that day.

“These are rich, live paintings for people to take home memories of Whidbey,” Symons said.

The gala and auction will begin tonight at 6:30 and continue to 8:30 p.m. at the historic Crockett Barn just outside of Coupeville.

The tickets are $50 each, which provides sumptuous foods, great wines and a $50 “Plein Air Buck” credit toward a painting purchase. Call 678-3396 for more information.

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