RTPI Plein Air Fest draws regional artists

Photos by Michael Zabrodsky Judson Brown of West Valley paints a small pond Thursday on the Roger Tory Peterson Institute campus during the Plein Air Festival.

JAMESTOWN — Artists came with their materials ready to make their best creations possible during the opening day of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s Plein Air Festival.

“We have artists painting throughout Chautauqua County and it’s just a really wonderful event to celebrate the beautiful areas that we have,” RTPI Marketing and Communications Officer Jill Bornand said.

According to rtpi.org, the Festival is a two-day, open enrollment, plein air painting event in Chautauqua County that was held Thursday and Friday. Artists had the opportunity to discover the beautiful natural scenery of Western New York which inspired a young Roger Tory Peterson. Artists may paint at a variety of locations within the area, with suggested locations that were provided two weeks prior to the festival. Locations were to include the RTPI nature preserve, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Audubon Community Nature Center, the downtown Jamestown Riverwalk, and Johnson Estate Winery.

“Plein air painting is about leaving the four walls of your studio behind and experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. The practice goes back for centuries but was truly made into an art form by the French Impressionists. Their desire to paint light and its changing, ephemeral qualities, coupled with the creation of transportable paint tubes and the box easel–the precursor to the plein air easels of today–allowed artists the freedom to paint ‘en plein air,’ which is the French expression for ‘in the open air,”’ said artistsnetwork.com.

Sara Baker Michalak, of Fredonia, said she was creating a collage of a meadow at RTPI which include grasses, insects, wildflowers, which specifically reflect the current moments of the fall. Her collages come from photographs of the natural world.

Sara Baker Michalak of Fredonia was creating a collage of a meadow on the Roger Tory Peterson Institute which include grasses, insects, wildflowers, which specifically reflect the current moments of the fall.

“I edit those (photos) to express my impressions of environments,” she said.

Donald Michalak, Sara’s husband, was also on the RTPI campus getting ready to paint a picture of part of the RTPI building located at 311 Curtis St. He first drew a rough scketch of the building to get the right perspective. He lined up his easel and used markings on the building, markings on the ground, and a ruler to make sure the proportions were correct.

West Valley artists Judson Brown was painting on small pond on the campus and said because of the changes in sunlight, things were in flux.

“That’s one of the joys of Plein Air painting, you have the little changes that occur, that might not otherwise be seen if you work from a photograph, which obviously we’re (artists) not,” Brown said.

Following two days of painting, artists are invited to display their completed works at the “Wet Paint” sale on Saturday. All paintings submitted to the show will be entered into a judged plein air painting competition, with awards given out during the closing reception on Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. All art work submitted to the show will also be considered for an exhibition of plein air paintings at RTPI, to be held in the Fall of 2023 through Spring of 2024, rtpi.org said.


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