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Artists from four states coming to Orange County for plein air paint-out and sale

DTH Photo Illustration. More information about Paint It Orange can be found online at

Artists from several states will gather in Orange County from Oct. 5-7 to participate in the sixth annual Paint It Orange Plein Air Paint-Out and Wet Paint Sale hosted by the Orange County Arts Commission.

More than 50 artists from four states are participating in the event. Each artist will produce at least one painting outdoors within Orange County, capturing a subject or scene of their choosing.

Artists are allowed up to three submissions for the chance to win a cash prize, and will also get the opportunity to sell their artwork at the subsequent wet paint sale.

The event, put on by staff and volunteers from the Orange County Arts Alliance, is a fundraiser for the organization, a non-profit that partners with the OCAC to promote the arts in the county.

Katie Murray, the director of OCAC, said funds raised from the event will go towards supporting artists, grant programs, public art initiatives and arts education, among other causes.

Katherine Jennings, a contemporary realist painter based in Chapel Hill, said the event will be an enriching experience. She said she believes the paint-out will be a great way to become more involved in the area, and also to learn more about Orange County.

Jennings also said the event is an opportunity to bring people together. 

Despite the inherently competitive nature of the event, Andie Freeman, an artist based in Raleigh, said she is excited to meet other plein air painters.

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to connect with new artists,” Freeman said.

Plein air painting, derived from the French for "in the open air," comes with challenges, according to some of the participating artists.

Because the artists are expected to complete the entire painting in one sitting outdoors, they said sunlight is a primary concern.   

“You need to time yourself,” Soonja Cook, a contemporary realistic painter based in Durham, and a participating artist, said. “The sun is moving constantly, so you have to capture the light really quickly.”

Competing artists have come up with several different strategies to overcome this obstacle, from setting up painting equipment early to completing a quick preliminary sketch of the subject beforehand. 

Nancy Carty, an art educator and participant in the paint-out, said it is important for plein air painters to be set up and prepared to paint by 8:30 a.m. at the latest.

Lily Braff, who is also participating in the event, said she will create a basic outline of the image, so that she knows where the shadows are and can then complete the painting in a few hours.

Participating artist Linda Hauser said the event should be fun, and that she is inspired by the beauty of Hillsborough and Orange County.

“Getting together with other artists, being outside, that’s what I enjoy,” Hauser said. 

Patti Duncan, another artist participating in the event, said she enjoys meeting new people that enjoy plein air painting, and is excited about painting outside with other artists and attending the Harvest Moon Party, which is also hosted by the OCAC.

Jeremy Sams, a representational artist and the judge for the event, said people living in a community get so used to seeing the same structures and landscapes in the environment around them that they often lose sight of their intrinsic beauty.

“Artists have a unique way of bringing attention to the beauty that is captive to those things,” Sams said.

@DTHCityState |

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