What do you get when you invite the top painters in the region and combine them with dozens of community artists? Paint It! Ellicott City, a plein air paint-out, took place over the weekend of July 8–10. More than 100 artists spent the long weekend painting the historic district of Ellicott City, sharing their talents with the summer crowds that came to watch the artists at work.
The French term “plein air” refers to painting out-of-doors without the assistance of photography — a tradition made popular by the Impressionists. Artists say there is nothing more challenging (and satisfying) then chasing the light in the scene that is before you and capturing it on canvas.
Artists have always sought to work together as a community, and this event provides the camaraderie that helps nourish that need. Add that to working in an historic, cohesive community such as Ellicott City and you have a perfect combination.
The paint-out was a collaboration between the Howard County Arts Council (HCAC), the Howard County Tourism Board (Tourism) and the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). The idea for the paint-out came from the Exhibition Committee of the arts council.
The HCAC manages two professional galleries at the Howard County Center for the Arts in Ellicott City. Having the asset of a charming historic district right in the vicinity, the committee felt that Ellicott City would make a perfect venue for a paint-out. Numerous communities in Maryland sponsor paint-outs, the most notable being Easton, Annapolis, Frederick and Allegany County.
The event was marketed to artists in the area through the three sponsoring organizations. Each has its own contact list and by partnering were able to reach the maximum number of potential artists.
Everyone Can Join In
Artists were invited to apply to participate in the paint-out by submitting samples of their work. Terry Sholvin, a plein air painter and nationally award-winning teacher from the Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Baltimore County served as the juror. As juror, Sholvin was responsible for selecting the 25 “juried” artists and for awarding prizes at the opening of the exhibition.
In addition to the juried artists, the public was invited to join in the fun and paint — for one day, or for the entire event. More than 100 painters, ranging from high school age to adult, were scattered throughout the historic district that Saturday and Sunday. Local businesses provided a variety of services to artists including discounts on meals, free water and discount framing.
The event kicked off with an artist’s reception at the Wine Bin on Main Street, followed by a talk by Sholvin. This is the second year the Wine Bin has hosted the opening reception, and despite a torrential downpour, the event was a success.
Artists began painting all day on Friday and Saturday and up to 3 p.m. on Sunday. As a plein air artist, you have to paint — in good or bad weather. Luckily, Friday proved to be a beautiful day. Saturday started out gray and rainy, but artists could be found tucked under overheads and on porches, painting the rain-soaked streets.
A number of intrepid artists painted “nocturnes”: night scenes. By Sunday afternoon, artists had to deliver their completed and framed work to the Howard County Center for the Arts.
The Winners Are …
The reception for the event was held at the Howard County Center for the Arts on Monday, July 11. The juried artists were allowed to select two paintings to be hung in Gallery I, and the community painters’ work was displayed in the lobby. Sholvin presented the awards to the following recipients: Hiu Lai Chong, First Place; Mark Coates, Second Place; Jaye Ayres, Third Place; Heather Leatherman, Honorable Mention; Stewart White, Honorable Mention; Debra Moffitt, Honorable Mention; Steve Stannard, Blossoms of Hope Award.
Other juried participants included Nick Aumiller, Hoainhon Caramencico, Ann J. Crostic, Nancy Lee Davis, David Diaz, Greg Johannesen, Janice Kirsh, Kathleen Kotarba, Michael Kotarba, Lisa Kyle, Maria Marino, Elena Maza, Lynn Mehta, Linda Newton, Duane Sabiston, Mary Jo Tydlacka, Edward M. Williams and Alexander Wissel.