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Ocean City

Plein air: (in the open air)

Plein air artist Dennis Young

(Aug. 9, 2013) Artists from around the region will take to the Boardwalk, streets, harbors, bays and beaches to paint Ocean City en plein air — “in the open air” — today and Saturday, with their works available during a “wet paint” sale to follow.

The 2013 Artists Paint OC competition presented by the Art League of Ocean City will see from 40-50 artists create up to three works apiece, Art League Executive Director Rina Thaler said.

“There’s a lot of subject matter here, and we take it for granted when we live here,” she said. “Artists get excited to come to Ocean City.”

Plein air events are “something very special and rare, because most of the time painters are hidden within their studio,” said artist David Simpson, who will paint for his third year in the Artists Paint OC competition and is an artist in residence at the Center for the Arts on 94th Street this month.

He said painting outside presents both challenges and benefits.

“All the elements are, in some respects, against you, but also for you. You have that wonderful aesthetic and experience of painting outside, but at the same time, it’s more challenging,” he said.

That’s because lighting and subjects move, and weather can be unpredictable, or at least uncomfortable.

Plein air painter Dennis Young turned down a prominent plein air competition in New Hope, Pa., to paint Ocean City’s Boardwalk and iconic landmarks for a second time this weekend.

“I get to experience all the sights and the atmosphere of painting on-site,” he said, and “I particularly like people stopping by and chatting with me while I’m painting.”

He compared his paintings to postcards, “in that when you take them home, you can reminisce over where you have been.”

“It’s easy to be transported back to the fun of the Boardwalk, a warm summer day, the fellow that was posing in front of the kite loft,” Simpson said.

Artists will have the opportunity to use their oil paints, acrylics and pastels in a range of space around the city, from the popular Northside Park on 125th Street to quiet marshes, the crowded Boardwalk and even Assateague seashore. Painters will report their whereabouts to the Art League so their locations can be pinned on a map, allowing spectators to watch them work around town, Thaler said.

Talking with passersby is part of the appeal of plein air events, said local painter Rebecca Morgan, who will participate for her second year in the competition.

“I really like the idea of being outside in Ocean City… and being able to have people actually see the art and come up and talk to you,” she said.

Artwork will be “for every price range,” Thaler said, with many smaller pieces given the constraints of a two-day, outdoor competition.

“They’re very fresh because the artist is in the moment while they’re painting, as opposed to a studio painting,” she said.

Artists will paint all day today and until 4 p.m. Saturday, with late registration continuing Saturday morning from 8-9 a.m. at the Ocean City Center for the Arts. At 4 p.m. Saturday, they’ll take their works to the Center for the Arts for judging.

A reception from 5-6:30 p.m. Saturday allows ticket-holders to view and purchase works and speak with artists before the sale opens to the public. Tickets will be available for $50 at the door, the cost of which is applied to any works bought during the wet paint sale.

At 6:30 p.m., doors open to the public and prizes will be awarded, including $1,000 for first place, $500 for second and $250 for third. Works will be on sale until 8 p.m.

Sunday, artists have the opportunity to compete in a Quick Draw Competition, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Boardwalk area by the inlet. Judges will award cash prizes for the competition and those works will join the weekend’s other plein air pieces on sale from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Center for the Arts on 94th Street.

An exhibit featuring the unsold plein air works will open Friday, Sept. 6 at the Ocean City Center for the Arts. They will remain on display at the 94th Street gallery until Sept. 29.

For more information, contact the Art League of Ocean City at 410-524-9433 or info@artleagueofoceancity.org.

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