(Aug. 8, 2014) More than 50 artists will take to Ocean City’s Boardwalk, beach and bay this weekend to paint en plein air — “in the open air” — during the annual Artists Paint OC competition.
Painters will have two days, today and Saturday, to paint award-worthy pieces onsite in Ocean City. Then at 4 p.m. on Saturday, they will meet at the Center for the Arts on 94th Street for judging.
“Each year it gets more and more popular because plein air painting is just a craze now around the country,” said Rina Thaler, executive director of the Art League of Ocean City, the group presenting the annual event. “It’s really exciting. People have come from all over for it.”
Each artist will submit one piece to the contest judged by Michel Demanche, an arts professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, that features $2,250 in cash prizes, Thaler said.
The public is invited to watch the artists at work around town and to join them at the Center for the Arts for a reception and “wet paint” sale Saturday from 6-8 p.m.
“The works are smaller in size, which a lot of times make them more affordable,” Thaler said. “It’s kind of a frenzy to collect the pieces of art, which all feature local themes.”
Plein air painter Gerilyn Gaskill, who returns from Georgetown, Del., for her second year in Artists Paint OC, agreed the local, transient themes are what set plein air paintings apart.
“It’s a whole different atmosphere — a way of painting — than you have in the studio,” she said. “It captures a time and a place.”
She focuses on the Boardwalk and beach during her time in Ocean City and said part of the fun is interacting with people walking by.
“A lot of people are interested and I just tell them what I’m doing. Sometimes it turns into a mini-lesson,” Gaskill said. She even carries an extra set of supplies so children can paint impromptu pieces along with her.
Ocean View, Del., artist Jennie Doll will also return for her second year in the contest, which she said has “unbeatable scenery.”
Doll branched out into plein air to challenge herself with a new, faster style of painting, she said.
“It’s a little bit more about the impression and the moment,” she said. “I like to be inspired by whatever kind of weather we get or what’s going on at the time. It’s the spontaneity that’s fun.”
Last year, for example, she painted a scene by the Lighthouse Club Hotel on 56th Street and, with new condo development there, the skyline is completely different this year, she said.
Artists will have another opportunity to take home top honors on Sunday during the Quick Draw Contest on the Boardwalk at South Division Street, where they will have two hours, 9-11 a.m., to create a piece for the competition.
The public can purchase paintings off the easel at 11:30 a.m. after the judging on the boards.
Visitors can also get involved by stopping by the Center for the Arts on 94th Street to see a large map pinpointing each artist’s location or visiting the center’s Facebook for clues, Thaler said.
“It’s a community event because people get involved in watching the artists and finding the artists,” she said.
Painter Cheryl Wisbrock returns for her third year in Artists Paint OC and said it’s an unusual opportunity for visitors to see paintings in progress.
“If they’ve never seen this happen, it’s really fun. They’re are going to be artists all over the place,” she said. “You don’t get to see that everywhere that you go.”
Visitors can find the Bethany, Del., native in downtown Ocean City’s alleyways and streets this weekend, painting old buildings and passersby into her pieces.
“I find it to be very exciting. It’s almost sensory overload for an artist,” she said. “To me, it’s part of the challenge. That’s what it boils down to.”
The Ocean City Center for the Arts will display the plein air paintings this Saturday, Aug. 9, through Aug. 31.
For more information, call 410-524-9433 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the Art League of Ocean City and the Center for the Arts at www.artleagueofoceancity.org.