2013 marks the Centennial Year of The Washington State Parks system. The 100 plus members of “Plein Air Washington” (PAWA), our state’s largest organized group of plein air artists, will be outdoors painting directly from nature, in good, bad and even ugly weather, at most of over 100 Washington State Parks.
Besides the fact that most landscape artists love to paint unspoiled areas, PAWA members are working hard this year to elevate awareness of the fragile beauty within our own state parks as well as create public awareness and interaction with the new “Plein Air Painting” movement that has been sweeping across America for the last twenty five years.
What is plein air painting? Originally coined by a French journalist trying to describe what the Impressionist were doing outside with their newly invented paint-tubes, (ca. 1850’s), it simply means “Painting in natural light” Also described as: “in situ” or “alla prima”; American artists, especially, have revived the older movement into exciting exhibits at galleries, museums and hundreds of annual plein air painting events, across the country. Those lucky enough to directly observe artists work on-site, can witness first-hand, the physical (and mental) painting process in action.
Historically, very famous artists like Thomas Moran and Ansel Adams played a huge role influencing the very formation and conservation of national parks (like Yellowstone and Yosemite) because their artwork had a huge influence with key leaders like Teddy Roosevelt, to make it happen. Todays’ artists are no different, as modern (think PAWA) plein air painters have a burning desire to connect the landscape with the public, through their own unique vision and expression.
Easter Sunrise at Spencer Spit, Lopez Island
Millions of digital photo images are taken annually, by visitors to our parks, but none are ever as unique or exciting as an original painting, made through the eyes and hands of an artist experiencing the moment, in natural conditions. This centennial year, PAWA artists are making a special effort to share the “gift of original paintings” to our state, its residents and any who set foot in these hallowed grounds. The lands encompassing the Washington State Parks system are like second homes to the PAWA group and they provide the perfect refuge from the modern too-busy and complicated world, that we all cherish.
As a collective group, we feel there is nothing more exciting than working directly from live subject matter, while everything is “alive and in motion . . . an immediate, very visceral connection (aided by sounds, smells, weather conditions) made with the subject at hand. The artist only gets @ 2-3 hours from start to finish - as the motion of the light itself, dramatically changes all colors, highlights, shadows . . . even the very shapes of the objects under observation.
In 2013, PAWA will be hosting many live demos and events, across the state. The public is cordially invited to come see us in action. Whether you are watching a beginner level artist or an award winning painter from our group, prepare to be amazed at what will unfold through each and every expressive gesture in paint. Many from our group will also be doing special ‘live demos’, during this years planned events, which will be announced in local and regional media.
Our 2013 efforts will also be show-cased in special exhibits at The American Art Company Gallery, in Tacoma, WA, October, and La Conner Seaside Gallery, La Conner, WA in June, as well as other venues like plein air competitions around the state!
Visit the PAWA website to find dates and locales.