“Plein air” is French for “painting outdoors.” A plein air painting in its truest form is completed from beginning to end on site with the subject matter right in front of the artist. The artist works directly from nature, observing the environment and capturing light and other environmental changes as they occur. The interest in light and movement are often evident in the finished work, as is true with historic Impressionist work. Although the approach is similar, each artist’s paintings can be vastly different – from photo-realistic to extremely abstract. Today, plein air festivals are a way to showcase a unique landscape or region to professional plein air painters and supports these artists by providing an art market for their finished work. Plein air festivals have been popping up nationally and internationally over the past 20 years and we are excited that the local 25-year-old Beverley Street Studio School is bringing one to Staunton!With much community involvement and support, Beverley Street Studio School launched their first QCPA Festival in 2016 and is proud to bring back a second expanded festival in April 2018. This Festival is just another jewel in our Queen City’s crown and enhances the already rich artistic and cultural fabric of Staunton.
Professional plein air painters representing Maryland, Jew Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and New York will be staying in Staunton for five days of painting, demonstrations, lectures, shows, sales, and artistic expression. These artists will be painting the unique historic architecture of downtown Staunton, beautiful established gardens of homes open during the Historic Garden Week Tour, and the rolling landscape of Augusta County. Featured locations include internationally known Polyface Farm, the educational Frontier Culture Museum, newly renovated Blackburn Inn, special event location Gaie Lea Farm, and many other private properties in and around Staunton.
Friday, April 20 is the third annual Paint Staunton Quick Draw Art Competition and Fresh Paint Show & Sale, a family friendly community art event. Registration is required to compete while the Show & Sale will be open to the general public. Awards will be presented for those in professional, amateur and 16 and under categories; all mediums and skill sets are invited to participate with a pop-up show and sale of the work created that day occurs from 2-3pm in the Sunspots Pavilion.
The weeklong festival culminates Saturday evening with a Fresh Paint Gallery Sale in the BSSS Gallery after the conclusion of the Historic Garden Week Tour. Other Festival events include artist demonstrations, lectures, preview parties, and a workshop by event juror and nationally acclaimed plein air painter, Nancy Tankersley.
Expose yourself to the world of visual arts during your stay in Staunton: April 17-22. Watch artist in action, participate, and see our region through the eyes of an artist.