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Plein Air Easton! The Tradition Continues

Jan 13, 2011 12:12AM ● By Anonymous

Visit Talbot County the week of July 18th when artists—55 of them selected in a juried competition –engage in the various stages of translating an image that inspires them, into a work of art painted on canvas.  Some paint behind easels, others select the colors to squeeze onto their palettes, and still others are on the move looking for their next subject. As the week progresses, some of these masterpieces are available for purchase at an exhibition inside the Academy Art Museum. (See our calendar section for a full listing of events) While a concentration of visiting artists gravitate towards painting canvases that depict  the historic homes , porches, and gardens of Easton, others can be seen at work near fields of ripening corn, at the fork of a  lonely country road, or down  at  one of the waterfront harbors where they can paint  piers, boats and watermen.

“I’m mostly a figurative artist,” says Tankersley one of the founders of the Easton Plein  Air Festival 2004 and also one of four Easton artists selected to participate in this year’s juried component of the festival.   “There are so many plein air painters that it is important to have something to set you apart,” she explains.  Quickly painting people in a natural setting can be a challenge, so often Tankersley  ask sa friend to come  and pose. In other instances she’ll paint suggestive small figures in a scene to add a figurative element. One piece she is particularly proud of, “Wishful Thinking”, features her daughter, standing in front of a shop window.  “I painted it fast towards the end of the day and everything just came together,” she says.  The colors draw from the pastel tones of dusk and the pink dress displayed behind the window echoes the softness and shape of the young woman’s pink skirt.


Last year, , artist Michael Budden  from Chesterfield, New Jersey found inspiration from a porch on Goldsborough Street.  From the dabs of bright colors on his palette, he added the final brush strokes to his painting of a Victorian house t focusing on the porch and its American flag. “This morning I saw the flag all lit up in the sunlight and I thought to myself I think I’m going to try this,” he explained. “I’ve done every show. The first year I won the award for the best marine painting,” he related proudly. This year he returns again as one of the 55 artists selected by Stephen Doherty,  editor-in-chief and publisher of American Artist, Watercolor, Drawings, and Workshop magazines. Jean Stern , an authority on California impressionism, select the award winners . Stern has an impressive resume as author, teacher, and lecturer and is the executive director of the Irvine Museum in California.

Local residents house many of the visiting artists.  Last year returning artist Ellen Gavin  from Millville, New Jersey stayed with Pat and Bob Hinkel and thoroughly enjoyed her experience.  “This town has the history of producing the Wild Fowl Festival and thus understands the importance of events, “ says Gavin, “ There are twice as many artists and you have the potential of exhibiting twelve paintings.  Doing this (plein air) makes you a better painter, even in your studio work.”

Nationally recognized, the Plein Air Competition and Arts Festival has several organized events intended to enable local artists from Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s or Talbot Counties not initially juried into the festival the opportunity to participate. The 6th Annual Mid-Shore Choose Three Plein Air-Easton! Competition  takes place in May  and enables the top three winners of the competition to participate  in Plein Air- Easton as well as provides work  for an exhibit (June  4 to July 30)  at the Chesapeake Heritage Gallery.  The “Local Color” Plein Air Exhibit, features the work of Delmarva Pennisula artists not juried into Plein Air-Easton in an exhibit  at the Tidewater Inn  from July 23-25 during Plein Air–Easton and awards prizes.

Perhaps the most popular event and the one the involves so many additional artists (approximately 160) is the Quick Draw, began in 2005. Says Quick Draw  Co –Chair and artist Diane Mullaly “Art collectors love to watch a painter create a painting from the beginning. How gratifying to own a painting and be able to say, “I was there when that was painted.”  This year the Saturday morning quick draw has been renamed “Quick Draw for All Ages” and another event for artist 21 years and under titled “Quick Draw the Next generation” will take place from 10 a.m to 2:00 pm. on Sunday. 

“It’s simply great to meet and watch highly skilled artists from all parts of the country,” says Mullaly, who has been participating in one form or another in the competition since its inception. “I have learned so much from them (the artists) and become friends with many. The most emotional part of the event is the opening on Friday evening. It can move me to tears. I am so proud of the competition artists for going out and giving it their all. The entire week is intense work and a ton of fun!”

For a complete schedule and listing check out our calendar page and visit
Plein Air–Easton! is a project of the Avalon Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide diversified arts and educational programs that improve the quality of life in the Mid-Shore region.