Popular Plein Air paint-out event returns to Ashcroft

Weekend draws artists from around the province who love painting the local landscape
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Artist Max Grass painted ‘Alley Cats’ in Ashcroft at the 2017 Plein Air paint-out event. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

The ninth Plein Air paint-out event — which sees artists paint en plein air, or in the great outdoors — is returning to Ashcroft from June 7–9, and even non-artists can be involved in a variety of ways.

The event is sponsored by the Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society, and organizer Jessica Clement says that there will be artists from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and around the B.C. Interior taking part, many of whom have been here before.

“We get our regulars who come back year after year, because they absolutely love painting our vistas and landscapes, which are unlike anything they have at home. Some of them are commercial artists who have clients who love the landscape. And this year we have some new people, which is always fun.”

To paint en plein air, or in the open, is an art movement that began in the 19th century. Artists of the time took advantage of natural light, as well as advances in the type of paint available and the introduction of the box easel, to go outdoors and paint the actual visual conditions in front of them, rather than being confined to a studio.

Plein air painting has remained popular into the 21st century, with events taking place all over the world. The Ashcroft event, which started in 2012, alternates between June and September, and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday artists are free to paint where and what they want (organizers provide maps and a list of possible locations; Barnes Lake is popular, as are some of Ashcroft’s heritage buildings). There is a meet-and-greet on the Friday evening featuring gourmet appetizers, dinner on Saturday and lunch on Sunday, and snacks throughout the weekend.

On Sunday, June 9 the artists will display the fruits of their work at a wet art show and sale at St. Alban’s church hall in Ashcroft, which starts at 2 p.m. Members of the public are welcome to come meet the artists and view their work.

Some of the artists bring spouses or partners, and at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, June 8 local historian Barbara Roden will be conducting a walking tour of downtown Ashcroft and detailing some of its history. While it’s intended for partners, the artists are free to join in, and any residents who are interested in learning a bit more about Ashcroft are also welcome. The tour will start and finish at St. Alban’s on Brink Street.

The art show and tour aren’t the only way residents can take part.

“We’re looking for people who have interesting back yards they might want a plein air artist to paint,” says Clement. “If you have something, contact us.”

Local artists are also more than welcome to be a part of the event. The cost is $100 per artist ($50 per partner/spouse), which includes the meet-and-greet, meals, and snacks (there is no charge for the walking tour).

For more information, or to volunteer your back yard as an artist location, email [email protected].