Audiences at this week’s Art & About in Waterville will find local artists painting in plain sight throughout the city.
The three-day event, hosted by the Waterville Arts Commission, invites the public beginning Thursday and running through Saturday to watch artists painting en plein air — meaning “in the open air” — around the town’s scenic sites. Art and About is free for both onlookers and artists, who receive discounts to local stores and other freebies.
Organizers said the best time to observe the artists in action is before 2 p.m. daily.
“It’s not very often that the public can watch artists paint,” said Lisa Exner, co-owner of the Silver Lining Gallery and member of the Waterville Area Arts Commission. “We thought this was a nice way to enrich the public, as well as giving artists the opportunity to paint outside.”
Last year, popular painting subjects included the Interurban Bridge and the historic Columbian House.
Artists will be provided with maps of where to find these and other portrait-ready places around town.
A map of painters’ locations can be obtained at the Silver Lining Gallery, 122 Mechanic St.
Many artists working en plein air use oils, which dry more slowly than other paints. Some, however, use acrylic, and one artist this year will use pastels, an unconventional choice, according to Ms. Exner.
She recalled one artist last year even allowing children to lay their artistic touches upon her canvas.
Ms. Exner is crossing her fingers for pleasant skies, but acknowledged that nature’s unpredictability is part of the plein air painting process.
She said many plein air artists bring large umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun, and that artists must also be cognizant of how the landscapes’ lighting changes as the day progresses.
“I hear that bugs are a big issue too,” she said. “Not just for the artists — sometimes they’ll land in the paint.”
The fair will culminate on Saturday from noon until 5 p.m. with a Celebration of the Arts in Conrad Park, where participating artists may sell the work they have created for the competition, as well as prior studio art.
Live entertainment is also planned for the celebration. The Waterville Playshop will perform selections from its production of The King and I, students from Waterville’s Roger’s Dance Center will perform, and local musician Kelly White will play a set of contemporary music.
For the younger set, activities will be provided by Waterville’s YMCA and library.
Grumbling stomachs will find ice cream for sale by the Waterville Historical Society, and kettle corn by Waterville-based company Mom and Pop.
Waterville artist Teri Bersee will judge the competition, and the public will be able to vote on their favorite painting.
Waterville cultivates a large artistic community, Ms. Exner said, with many artists, like sculptor George Carruth, calling the area home.
“I think the culture of art in Waterville makes it a great place to draw artists together, and I hope that people from the surrounding area will come out and take a look at what they’re painting,” Ms. Exner said.
While the majority of the artists have painted en plein air event before, prior experience is not a requirement.
Registration through the Waterville Arts Commission is open until Thursday.
Contact Jennifer Gersten at: email@example.com or 419-724-6050.