Local and national artists gather for Steamboat Art Museum Plein Air Paint Out event
If You Go...
What: Plein Air Paint Out opening reception
When: 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25
Where: Steamboat Art Museum, 801 Lincoln Ave.
If You Go...
What: Quick Draw & BBQ
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26
Where: Wolf Run Ranch, Routt County Road 33
Tickets: $25 per person, free for kids under 12. Purchase in advance at the museum or call 970-870-1755
Steamboat Springs — Follow the light, capture its vivid hues, work quickly and efficiently — time is almost up.
There are multiple elements that go into a “plein air” painting.
“You really have to be spontaneous, open and responsive,” said local artist Chula Beauregard. “A lot of professional artists don’t want to let go of their plein air studies. These are really valuable pieces because that was the only time you will get that feeling, that light, that mood, balance and colors of that moment.”
Beauregard is one of 27 artists who will compete in the Steamboat Art Museum’s Plein Air Paint Out starting Saturday and continuing to next Friday.
Plein air is French for “in the open air,” and the museum’s non-juried event attracts emerging artists from all over the country. For a week, these local and national artists will have an opportunity to select a location of their choice in Routt County to create as many as three paintings with approved materials.
On Friday, Sept. 25, there will be a celebration reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at the museum to showcase the work created. At the reception, featured Steamboat Art Museum artist John Fawcet will judge the paintings and award prizes to the artists.
Another contest will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26 at the museum’s Quick Draw and BBQ event at the Wolf Ranch on Routt County Road 33. Participating artists will have two hours to start and finish a painting on location. The finished pieces will be on display and can be purchased during a silent auction. There will also be a catered barbecue, bar, live music and more.
Tickets for the Quick Draw and BBQ event are $25 per person and free for kids younger than 12. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Steamboat Art Museum.
Plein air pieces are some of the most significant references artists may have when deciphering color values, textures, lighting and realistic details.
“It’s the most valuable study I have,” said Beauregard, who sometimes refers to her plein air pieces when finishing a studio piece. “We would love to keep these for ourselves, but that is part of the excitement of the event. You get to buy a study that an artist doesn’t usually sell.”
Preparation for the contest involves gathering materials and brainstorming through memories of places in Steamboat to optimize where artists decide to go.
“When I’m looking for a place to paint, sometimes the place talks to me, and I’m drawn to that,” said Dancy St. John, another local artist participating in the event. “Throughout the week, you get immersed in the painting and then you start seeing colors in places you hadn’t seen before.”
Surprising even themselves, artists have a tendency to come up with work that may be out of their comfort zones.
“Sometimes, an artist will just loosen up or get into the zone,” said Dottie Zabel, Steamboat Art Museum operations director. “There have been some really cool, spontaneous things that happen.”
Beauregard said the event is in line with the museum’s mission because it is place-based and celebrates the arts and culture of Northwest Colorado.
“This allows people who are not from this region to go out and experience the area with those who do know it well,” St. John said. “It builds a lot of camaraderie among artists, collectors and art enthusiasts.”
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