More than 40 artists will grab their brushes and line eight blocks of downtown Lexington on Saturday for Paint the Town!, an all-day plein air painting event.
Plein air painting is essentially painting or drawing outdoors in the landscape. According to the fine arts website Artist Daily, it was a style championed by 19th-century French impressionists who felt freed from their studios by paint tubes and box easels.
This will be the sixth edition of the Lexington event, in which the artists plop down in front of downtown scenes of their choosing, set up their canvases and create from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dan McGrath, founder of the Plein Air Painters of the Bluegrass and one of this year’s participating artists, is a veteran of the event, and he has picked up some helpful tips through the years that will help with this weekend’s event.
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McGrath scouted out downtown a week ago to look for subjects, which he said is a “great help, since you don’t waste limited time on Saturday walking around in search of your subject.”
The event wasn’t intended to coincide with Lexington’s Pride Weekend, but Art Connects executive director Kate Savage said she thinks the colorful downtown will add vibrance to the artists’ works.
Once realizing the weekend events lined up, Savage said, “I just decided it was a great pairing of outside happening and made for a busier downtown and more colorful.”
McGrath said he hopes to meet some of the Pride participants.
Art Connects is a nonprofit arts advocacy agency that presents Paint the Town! Savage said the event was originally presented by downtown’s Gallery B. After the gallery closed several years ago, Art Connects reinvented the event as Paint the Town! in 2015. Savage said she thought there was a niche in the community for the event, and she wanted to bring it back to life.
I’m hoping I’ll be painting in an area where there are lots of participants in the parade and weekend, and we get to talk and learn something about ourselves.
Dan McGrath, founder of Plein Air Painters of the Bluegrass and one of this year’s participating artists
The artists have six hours to complete their cityscapes.
“It’s a big challenge working with the available sunlight and shadows, and you just can’t include every tiny detail; you learn to edit,” McGrath said. “The advantage is that you can walk around your subject and really understand it and choose the best composition.”
The completed works will be hung Saturday afternoon in ArtsPlace, and then an evening public exhibition will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. All of the works will be for sale from that evening through the July 21 Gallery Hop. Prices vary from $100 to $1,200. Internationally recognized artist Kathie Odom from Tennessee will be the presenting judge for best in show, second place, third place and people’s choice.
What they can produce in six hours, standing out there in the heat being constantly interrupted by interested passersby, just never ceases to knock my socks off.
Kate Savage, executive director of Arts Connect
“Art, like many things, like literature and film and many things, has a vogue. Things come and they go, and landscapes and that sort of thing are not necessarily in vogue right now,” Savage said. “So this, I always have felt, is a wonderful opportunity to showcase these people’s works and their talents.”
If you go
Paint the Town!
When: Artists will paint cityscapes from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 24 Open to the public.
Painting: Check-in and late registration is 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at ArtsPlace, 161 N. Mill St. Registration is open online and will be open at the event. $40 registration fee.
Exhibition: Open reception and exhibition of the completed works at ArtsPlace, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $25 and can be used for their entire face value towards the purchase of a piece of art.