Paint the Peninsula 2015

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Paint the Peninsula 2015

By Kelly McKillip

Imagine this:  It’s a beautiful September day and you find yourself walking along a bluff overlooking the breathtaking view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  You happen upon an artist at her easel.  Dipping her brush into a puddle of ultramarine blue, she carefully applies oil paint to canvas recreating an impression of the water below.  A few feet away, another artist is making bold strokes on rough paper with a stick of soft pastel, rendering the constantly changing, dark violet shadows of the path.  And a little ways beyond him, a watercolorist adds a transparent glaze of cadmium yellow wet on wet to her paper in hopes of capturing the exquisite fall light.  You’ve not stumbled upon a new utopian artists’ colony, but the Port Angeles Fine Art Center’s (PAFAC) 3rd annual Paint the Peninsula Plein Air Competition.

Plein air (outdoor) painting, developed by 19th Century French Impressionists to capture the fleeting beauty of the natural world, remains very popular throughout Europe and North America. The Olympic Peninsula, with its varied and stunning landscapes, is an ideal place for artists of all mediums to find the perfect setting to express their artistic vision. Additionally, the event is a great opportunity for the public to follow their favorite (or soon to be favorite) artists as they create unique works of art from inception to completion.

Outdoor painting employs a very different set of techniques and challenges than traditional studio painting where conditions are controlled.  The artist must try to capture the scene quickly as the light, temperature and colors will change constantly.  For that reason, plein air paintings tend to be more spontaneous, impressionistic and difficult to master.  Working in nature is fraught with hazards.  A sudden storm may bring a downpour. One’s easel may blow over or unsecured canvas take flight and sail off the bluff by a gust of wind or fall paint side down in the dirt. Being in the understory of birds, or animal visitations may introduce unwanted distractions.  For these intrepid artists, however, the results are well worth the trouble.

To be considered for the Paint the Peninsula juried competition, artists must submit 3 works of original art for review.  This year’s jurors are: Executive Director and Curator of the Bainbridge Island Museum, Greg Robinson; Howard/Mandville Gallery owner, Pat Howard; and Contemporary Landscape artist Mike Ferguson
The 25 competing artists from the U.S. and Canada will make their way to Port Angeles on September 6th to find a warm welcome followed by an informative and inspiring tour of the Peninsula.  Each substrate (canvas or paper) will be stamped to ensure absolute authenticity.
The excitement starts on September 7th, as the artists begin the first of five days of painting by setting up their easels at a site of their choosing within the Olympic National Park. Blank canvasses will be transformed with images of snow-capped mountains, rugged coast lines, primeval forests and countless other possible subjects.  The schedule with details of the artists’ locations will be posted daily on the PAFAC website.

On September 8th, the artists will reconvene in the newest venue for the event, the Dungeness Recreation Area. Here they can choose from the Park’s stunning view of the Strait, or the Wildlife Refuge with the scenic spit that leads to the New Dungeness Light Station.

The following two days, the artists have the freedom to choose their locations. They may remain in the venues of the previous days or venture to town, visit a boat dock, farm or prairie. Each evening the works will be hung “wet” in the PAFAC gallery for public viewing and purchase.

On September 11, the fifth and last day, a frantic quick draw session will be held at various sites in downtown Port Angeles from 9-11 am. This is the ultimate test of artist chops as the painters only have two hours to complete their masterpieces.

Judging the paintings this year is multi-medium artist and teacher Gil Dellinger.  Gil is a retired Professor of Art from the University of the Pacific, a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America, and current President of the Plein Air Painters of America.  The artist winning best in show will take home $1500 and be given a 1/4 page ad in Plein Air Magazine.  Locally, the artist’s work will be featured in the promotions for the Port Angeles 2016 competition.  As they have for the last two years, Camaraderie Cellar owners, Don and Vicki Corson will use the winning Paint the Peninsula image as the label on a special vintage of plein air wine.  An additional $2500 in cash prizes will be awarded the runners up as well as Sponsor Merit Awards.

All paintings will be for sale, starting September 8th and each day’s paintings will be added, culminating in the Salon de Plein Air Reception and Award Ceremony,  5:30-8:30 PM on September 12th.  Tickets are $75.00 and may be purchased on-line for the gala event which also includes Plein Air Wine, hearty appetizers and entertainment.

On September 13th, from 11-4:00, a fun, free event of Art in the Park will take place in Webster’s Woods.  Art activities and demonstrations suitable for the entire family will be offered as well as an out-door BBQ ($10.00 donation suggested).

For nature lovers, art lovers, or those lucky enough to be both, The Plein Art Painting event is not to be missed.

For more information visit:
Port Angeles Fine Arts Center in Webster’s Woods Art Park
1203 E Lauridsen Blvd. 
Port Angeles, WA 98362


For more information please call the Refuge office at 360-457-8451 or send an e-mail to: