Ocean City Today

Annual ‘Artists Paint OC’ plein air event in full swing

By Kara Hallissey | Aug 10, 2017

(Aug. 11, 2017) The Art League of Ocean City’s 12th annual plein air event, “Artists Paint OC,” is underway and will continue until Aug. 13, as participants spend time painting in different locations around the resort.

“Our plein air event is special because it’s the chance to capture the essence of Ocean City,” said Rina Thaler, executive director of the Art League of Ocean City. “People love Ocean City. It’s a great way to collect original artwork and [it’s] more affordable.”

Plein air, a French expression for “in the open air” is the art of painting outdoors, directly from life.

The event has grown into a five-day affair where 50 plein air artists recreate scenic sites in the area and compete for $2,650 in prizes.

“We have added an extra day of painting this year and a couple of prizes sponsored by businesses in the community,” Thaler said. “Artists love coming to Ocean City for the hospitality and some stay in host family houses.”

Hundreds of spectators will be on hand to watch the artwork come to life, which has inspired some to construct paintings of their own.

The event kicked off Wednesday, Aug. 9, with registration starting at 8 a.m. followed by a full day of painting.

“Artists spend a couple of days together in a beautiful and diverse setting showcasing Ocean City, from the Boardwalk, harbor, marshes, bays, farms and the beach,” Thaler said. “A lot of people have met each other in past years and enjoy catching up. Some travel all over for these competitions.”

Thursday and today, participants were scheduled to paint using a variety of tools such as oils, watercolors, pastels, oil acrylics and graphite pencil. Artists can be found in favorite locations on the beach, streets, near the bays and marshes or on the Boardwalk and at the West Ocean City harbor.

“Artists paint whenever they want,” Thaler said. “They will have signs on their easels saying they are participating.”

Saturday’s events will start with a chance to paint in the morning and then registered artists will return to the Ocean City Center for the Arts on 94th Street before 2:30 p.m. to frame and hang their completed artwork for the competition.

“We are giving out an award for the best nocturnal painting and have designated Friday for artists to paint at night,” Thaler said. “We are also giving out an Ocean City lifestyle award specifically for artists to capture the essence of Ocean City businesses [sponsored by Jolly Roger Amusements].”

Stewart White, president of the Mid-Atlantic Plein-Air Painters Association, will be judging the competition this year. Award winners will be announced at 6:30 p.m. and their pieces will be on display at the Ocean City Center for the Arts until Aug. 28.

In addition, White will choose another work by each artist to be displayed in the classrooms for sale.

“The amount of artwork is really cool,” Thaler said. “These artists create several paintings while they are here. So if you have 50 artists, you might have 300 paintings [to choose].”

From 6-8 p.m. on Saturday, the public is invited to attend the “Wet Paint Sale” to meet the artists and purchase paintings.

“It is a chance to collect artwork and is always exciting to see what people choose to paint,” Thaler said. “Some paintings will stay up for a month in the gallery and classrooms. It truly is a wet paint sale with paintings fresh off the easel and not dry yet. It becomes a frenzy. Everyone is trying to buy the coveted award winner’s or their favorite paintings. Some follow the artists to different competitions.”

There will be a cash bar and complimentary refreshments. During the awards ceremony, the first-place artist will take home $1,000, the second-place finisher will receive $500 and the third-place winner will earn $250. Three honorable mention paintings will be given ribbons.

Four additional category winners, “Best Use of Light,” which is sponsored by Royal Plus Electric, “Best Ocean City Lifestyle,” “Best Maritime,” which is sponsored by Tow Boat U.S., and “Best Nocturnal,” will each take home $100.

On Sunday morning, the Ocean City Development Corporation is sponsoring the timed “Quick Draw” competition again this year on South Division Street in downtown Ocean City from 9-11 a.m.

Interested artists can register on-site Sunday from 7:30-8:30 a.m. for $15, stop by the Art League on 94th Street or online at www.artleagueofoceancity.org.

“The plein air competition is full and on a waiting list,” Thaler said. “Artists interested in the Quick Draw competition should go to the Boardwalk on Aug. 13, register and paint.”

Judging by White is set for 11:30 a.m. at which time $500 in prize money will be divided between first, second and third place.

“The Quick Draw event is a great way for art lovers and visitors to see some of their favorite downtown locations and features painting in a short, two-hour period,” said Glenn Irwin, executive director of the OCDC. “These paintings highlight the best of the oldest section of Ocean City.”

Another Wet Paint Sale will take place at the Ocean City Center for the Arts until 4 p.m. on Sunday, giving visitors the opportunity to purchase original artwork of local scenes minutes after competition.

“Part of the reason [artists] like to come to Ocean City is they get to do cool stuff while they are here,” Thaler said. “And camaraderie between the artists form.”

Artists from Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Florida, Virginia, New York and Maryland are registered to participate in “Artists Paint OC.”

Dennis Young, of New Castle, Delaware, has been painting in plein air area events since 2009, but always enjoys coming back to Ocean City.

“I come to ‘Artists Paint Ocean City’ because it’s a fun and friendly show and because I enjoy the Boardwalk,” Young stated in a press release. “I’ve been painting in Ocean City for several years, and I always do at least one painting on the boards. The scene vibrating with people and activity finds its way onto my canvas. Topping it off, I do enjoy pausing to talk with so many friendly people who stop by to look.”

Charles David Viera, of Flemington, New Jersey, has painted in Ocean City for the last three years.

“I love Ocean City, and, as an artist, painting it helps me to engage it in a more intimate and personal way,” Viera stated in a press release. “From the honky-tonk feel of the Boardwalk and the excitement of the waves crashing on the oceanside to the serenity of the bayside, Ocean City is a microcosm of life as we know it.”

Viera is also slated to teach a plein air workshop at the Ocean City Center for the Arts on Sept. 9.

“Take a class in plein air painting if you like what you see,” Thaler said.

The Center for the Arts on 94th Street will display a map marking each artist’s approximate location and artists are encouraged to post their whereabouts on its Facebook and Instagram pages during Artists Paint OC.

The event has taken place since 2006 and grown in popularity every year, with about 400 people attending the Wet Paint Sale in 2016.

Thirty percent of all sales go to the Art League of Ocean City to continue its programs and projects. The nonprofit organization is devoted to bringing the visual arts to the community through education, exhibits and scholarships.

An Ocean City beach painting created by White will be raffled off until Aug. 27 with tickets costing $5 each or get three for $10.

For more information on Artists Paint OC, call 410-524-9433 or email info@artleagueofoceancity.org. Learn more about the Art League of Ocean City and the Center for the Arts or sign up for a class at www.artleagueofoceancity.org.

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