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North Carolina paint-out offers exposure to artists, takes a virtual format


The fourth annual “Paint it Orange” event, hosted by the Orange County Arts Commission and the Hillsborough Arts Council, is adjusting to a new online format to continue supporting artists in North Carolina. Graphic courtesy of Katie Murray. 

Through the collaborative efforts of the Orange County Arts Commission and the Hillsborough Arts Council, this year’s fourth annual “Paint it Orange,” is taking a new online format to continue supporting artists in North Carolina. 

Now called “Paint it North Carolina,” the event invites artists within North Carolina and those bordering the state to paint “en plein air,” or in the open air, in their favorite outdoor locations in the state. Unlike past years, this event will not be juried, but the sale of artists’ creations will be encouraged in a virtual art gallery. 

In light of the current pandemic, organizations and artists have transitioned to virtual platforms to continue sharing their creations as well as raising funds for those struggling as a result of the public health safety risks.

“A lot of our artists do travel in on a normal year from the coast and from the mountains, and people have started to catch on to this event,” Torey Mishoe, the executive director of the Hillsborough Arts Council, said. “We wanted to not lose some of them who were outside of Orange County, so we've given them the option to paint from anywhere in North Carolina.”

Artist Lyudmila Tomova is among those participating in the event from outside of Orange County and said that she has driven to participate in the paint out in previous years. 

“We as artists, we just want to be out there and paint no matter what,” Tomova said. “So this is a way of connecting us and going virtual, even though we won't be in person, it's close enough to kind of have more exposure and, of course, raise funds for the organization.”

Katie Murray, director of the Orange County Arts Commission, said that the outdoor painting event is something that artists can safely do within the context of the pandemic, but in previous years the event had a more community-based experience. 

“The exhibit itself is always jam-packed, shoulder to shoulder full of people,” Murray said. “Even though plein air itself was safe, there's so much communal events associated with the event...we just can't do it and it have that same kind of vibe that it's had in the past.” 

Murray and Mishoe both mentioned that last year the event participation went up to 60 registered artists, whereas this year there are only a reported 43 registered artists. 

“This year it's in its fourth year, it's still a very young program, we didn't want to lose that momentum,” Mishoe said. “So we decided to pivot it to the online platform, but scale it back really heavily.”

The paint-out will be taking place until Oct. 13 and five submitted pieces will be shown in an online exhibit for preview ticket buyers on Oct. 16. It will open fully to the public on the Oct. 20. 

Tomova said that she is most looking forward to the positive experience of connecting with like-minded people and sharing artwork.

“Obviously, just fight this whole difficulty with COVID, and still being able to paint and share and have our artwork shown,” Tomova said. “To me, that is just very worthy in itself.”

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