MEEKER I Artists taking part in Plein Air Meeker 2014 can now be seen along the Rio Blanco County roads and forests within 50 miles of Meeker as the painters focus on outdoor art available through the scenery offered in the area.
The translation for “en plein air” is “in the open air,” and the artists, who could start the two-week painting competition on Wednesday, will be working until July 2 in the natural light to complete a painting on location. That has inspired many artists, and will make up the third annual Plein Air Art Competition held in Meeker. There are cash prizes, and the best of show art will win $1,000.
“Plein art got started in the late 1800s in Europe and quickly moved back to America,” said Pat Sheeran/Daggett of Meeker, who helped start the local competition in 2012 in conjunction with the Meeker Chamber of Commerce. “Plein art painting also played a major role in helping to define American art late in that century in that it is responsible for many of the large landscape paintings quite prominent throughout the West.
Sheeran/Daggett said plein air has seen a resurgence in popularity since the late 1990s and that there are hot spots for plein air artists now in Taos, N.M., California and a few other locations.
She named some of the top American plein art artists as Oscar Berninghaus, Victor Higgins, William Wendt, Edgar Payne and Harvey Dunn.
“I think this is a really good way to bring people into Rio Blanco County and a great way to advertise Meeker,” Sheeran/Daggett said. “We have exceptional scenery, which includes high country and low country, which is unlike many other locations.”
All art must be created within 50 miles of Meeker, and the paintings must be turned in by 5 p.m. July 2. Most will be painted in water colors, oils, acrylics or pastels, but any medium may be used such as ink and pen, pencil sketches, charcoal, etc.
On July 3 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. will be the champagne toast at the “Wanderlust Gallery,” being set up at 640 W. Main St., a public meet and greet with the artists and the beginning of the silent auction.
On July 4, the quick-draw competition runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the courthouse lawn downtown. The quick draw silent auction begins at 1:30 p.m. and, at 3:30 p.m., the awards ceremony will be held at the Wanderlust Gallery, followed by the competition closing and awarding of art to the silent auction bid winners.
To register, artists are asked to stop by the Meeker Chamber of Commerce to fill out entry forms, then take that form with you when you get your canvas stamped.
Visitors are requested, if staying in Meeker during the competition, to make reservations now.
The activity is part of Meeker’s Range Call Celebration, which attracts visitors from all over the country, and hotel rooms fill quickly.
“I like plein art painting because it gives me more information on what I am painting,” Sheeran/Daggett said. “It is so very different from painting from a photograph.”