En Plein Air: Artists set up easels outdoors in Waterville’s Art & About

6/15/2014
BY JENNIFER GERSTEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Callie Elder, 4, creates a colorful sky in her painting near the Maumee River during the open air art festival.
Callie Elder, 4, creates a colorful sky in her painting near the Maumee River during the open air art festival.

Lisa Exner, co-owner of the Silver Lining Gallery in Waterville, had been worried about the bugs.

“I hear that [they’re] a big issue,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll land in the paint.”

To Ms. Exner’s relief, skies were stinger-free at last weekend’s Art & About in Waterville. Hosted by the Waterville Area Arts Commission, of which Ms. Exner is a member, the event invited local artists to set up their easels outside for three days of painting “en plein air,” an expression meaning “in the open air.” A few hundred had come out for a good time, she said, and she plans to make the event annual.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here for more photos from the event

On June 7, during the event’s culminating Celebration of the Arts in Conrad Park, strains of live music reached the participating artists who had set up booths to sell their works. Jim White of Toledo listened to his son croon and strum his guitar as people drifted by. Mr. White won second place and the audience choice award for his illustration of the historic Columbian House.

Barb Houdeshell, left, an artist from Findlay, paints as her mother Pat Bear, right, watches.
Barb Houdeshell, left, an artist from Findlay, paints as her mother Pat Bear, right, watches.

“You always want to win first,” he said. “But if you get second place, that’s OK,” he added quickly. “And, to me, people’s choice is more important than first, or second, or third.”

Mr. White, who has been painting en plein air for years, said he enjoys when children peer at him while he works. If they like to paint, he gives them a brush. Upon returning home, a girl who had spent “quite a while” dabbing at his canvas begged her parents for a paint set of her own.

Kelli Kilpatrick of Waterville had brought her daughters to paint by her side. An art major in college, Ms. Kilpatrick said her daughters had taken after her, putting paint to paper whenever they could.

Four-year-old Callie, sunk deep into a lawn chair, was rifling meticulously through the paint set on her lap. On her canvas were a bear and horse beneath a swirly sky. Over the phone, her mother said 7-year-old Sarah had painted a river with two cranes.

“Three cranes!” Sarah insisted, audible in the background. In total, four cranes had been spotted in Waterville Thursday as Ms. Kilpatrick and her children painted in the park.

“Oops,” Ms. Kilpatrick amended. “Make that three cranes.”

Contact Jennifer Gersten at: jgersten@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.