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Orange County is getting its portrait painted by local artists this fall

Brett Lague Painting

"Churchyard", oil painting by Brett LaGue of a historic cemetery in Fincastle Virginia. Photo courtesy of Brett LaGue.

Artists from different locations and disciplines will come together to paint the beautiful and historic landscapes of Orange County at the Paint it Orange event from Sept. 25 through Sept. 27. 

Hosted by the Orange County Arts Commission, the Hillsborough Arts Council and Application Architects, the three days of painting will culminate in an exhibition, an awards reception and sale of the artists’ work.

 “It’s a 'plein air' event, which means you go out and basically paint outdoors whatever it is you see,” said Brett LaGue, an artist registered to paint in the upcoming event.  

LaGue paints in the style of American Impressionism and though he lives in Virginia, he said he is excited to explore the many sites Orange County has to offer.

“It’s just a neat, historic area and it’s very diverse," LaGue said. "It’s exciting and fun to come down and try to find something good and capture it."

As an out-of-state artist, LaGue said one of his favorite aspects of the event is the opportunity to stay with a host family. He said getting to know the families he stays with is always something he looks forward to. 

Staying with a host family also helps remove financial stress associated with traveling since host families house and feed visiting artists, he said.

LaGue is not the only participating artist looking forward to community engagement at Paint it Orange.  

Impressionist painter Lyudmila Tomova from Cary, North Carolina, said she enjoys how the event takes her out of a solitary worker mindset and places her in a community of artists and art lovers.

“Taking the artist outside of the studio and into the open creates a bridge between the public and us,” Tomova said.

Tomova said her paintings, which have recently been watercolor, aim to capture the feeling of a place rather than serve as a copy of exactly what the artist sees.  

 “I try to not really copy reality, but more interpret it in my own way," Tomova said. "I try to create more moody and more energetic pieces."

Dorothy Whitmore, a local artist from Hillsborough, said she is also excited to bring her own flair to the event.  

"I like to paint things that have some history to them," Whitmore said. "I like looking down an alley or looking through a stand of trees to show distance to get a feeling of time passing."

Whitmore said Paint it Orange gives her and other artists the opportunity to actually do something by enriching the community’s environment.

“It helps them to see the beautiful things that are out there. I’m creating that view, and it helps them appreciate their environment as well,” Whitmore said. 

She, like LaGue and Tomova, said she believes in the power of art in community engagement. Having artists going through their creative process in a public setting gives artists and community members the opportunity for conversation and mutual support.

“If they see people painting it, it’s even better to have it because they’ve talked to the artist that actually created the work,” LaGue said.  

The art sale on the last day of the event makes art even more accessible to the community, and attendees can support artists by purchasing paintings.

LaGue, Tomova, Whitmore and other artists will be in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough beginning Wednesday, Sept. 25. Their art can be viewed at C3 Hillsborough beginning on Friday, Sept. 27 and will remain on exhibit through November.


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