A Painter’s Delight

Jim McIntosh painting 'Eatery Row' at last September's Plein Air Paint Out. Courtesy photo

Jim McIntosh painting ‘Eatery Row’ at last September’s Plein Air Paint Out. Courtesy photo

What: Plein Air Paint Out
When: Fri., April 11th and Sat., April 12th
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Downtown Southport
Cost: $20 to paint, FREE to spectate
Info: www.cityofsouthport.com

Landscapes feed almost every artist—tree-tipped mountains, the degrees of greens and blues within an ocean wave, and the expanse of the red-rock desert. Nature’s beauty has long been a muse, even beckoning artists to create works outdoors. But it wasn’t until the 19th century that working in natural light became a priority for the Barbizon school of art and Impressionism, and thus, created a movement celebrated today by thousands: En plein air.

The French phrase translates to “in the open air,” and the International Plein Air Painters (IPAP) organization started in 2001 to promote plein air painting. Each September, the group hosts a worldwide “paint out.” Last year, the City of Southport joined in the fun, and it will host another Plein Air Paint Out this Friday, April 11th and Saturday, April 12th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. A “wet paint” sale and artist meet-and-greet will take place on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the lawn of the Fort Johnston-Southport Museum and Visitors’ Center, located at 203 E. Bay St., behind the NC Maritime Museum.

Cindy Brochure, the Director of Tourism and Economic Development for the City of Southport, describes the atmosphere of the paint out as similar to a festival, “fun and full of creativity and culture.”

“Southport is North Carolina’s premier painting location for the serious plein air artist,” Brochure asserts. “It is important to create cultural events by bringing local, regional and national artists to Southport.  The ‘Paint the Town’ Plein Air Paint Out is a two-day event that will bring art into public view. Our goal is to support and encourage Southport as a growing artist’s haven for all mediums.”

Jim McIntosh, a renowned local painter, suggested the City of Southport take part in the IPAP Paint Out. “I have been painting over 40 years and have been painting ‘plein air’ seriously for over 10 years,” McIntosh confirms. “With great success the first [Paint Out brought] several dozen artists to participate from several states, and it was a grand happening.”

Nancy Schulte, an artist who transplanted to Southport from Atlanta, enjoys painting outdoors often. She created this watercolor during the city's last Plein Air Paint Out. Courtesy photo

Nancy Schulte, an artist who transplanted to Southport from Atlanta, enjoys painting outdoors often. She created this watercolor during the city’s last Plein Air Paint Out. Courtesy photo

Likewise, artist Nancy Schulte is no stranger to painting outdoors. “It helps artists be more aware of changing light and weather conditions, which translates into our paintings,” she divulges. “I do feel safer and more emotionally ‘charged up’ when other artists are around me. If observers come along, it’s fun to see what they have to say.”

Spectators are welcome to peruse the streets of Southport and get a peek of the artist’s works as they come to life. Artists looking to participate must register online by March 30th at www.cityofsouthport.com. The fee is $20, which includes lunch on Friday. Youngsters ages 10 through 18 may participate for free but must still register. This event is open to anyone who wishes to participate and has their own supplies and easels; there will be no delineation between amateur or professional.

Schulte, who once served as the President of Georgia Watercolor Society while living in Atlanta with her husband, recently relocated to the area. Her art is featured in public and private collections, including Neil Diamond’s. Currently she is active with the Associated Artists of Southport. “We wanted to be closer to family and have a place our grandkids would enjoy coming to,” she explains. “I had no idea what a wonderful artist’s community Southport was. What a blessing! This plein air Paint Out is helping the public appreciate what we do.”

For McIntosh, the area has long been a muse for his work. “Southport is such a neat place, with so many things to paint,” he shares. “The waterfront is special, as well as many quaint homes on oak-covered streets. The commercial fishing boats, the marina for pleasure craft, sail boats that just wait to be painted in action or waiting to go again.  The old yacht basin with so many things to catch your eye, and my rendition of ‘Eatery Row’ [our cover image]. This area is a painter’s delight. We just need to take advantage of it.”

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