- Arts and Design
Photo Gallery Featuring Plein Air Coastal Delaware Artists
Photo of Plein Air Artist Christine Heyse
Children's Beach House
The Children's Beach House in Lewes, DE, was founded by Lydia Chichester DuPont in 1936 because she believed the coastal environment had beneficial healing qualities that could help children who had special needs.
Today the beach house is the center of a year-round community-based initiative offered to DE families who have special needs children.
In Search of the Plein Air Coastal Delaware Artists
Paint smudged faces, hands and aprons, broad brimmed hats and visors, and portable easles made it easy to spot artists participating in the inaugural Plein Air Coastal Delaware Art Competion, Exhibition and Sale. The event was a first time collaboration and fundraiser between the Children's Beach House, the Rehoboth Art League and the Food Bank of Delaware.
The artists and photographers were competing for cash prizes and were jury selected after submitting application portfolios. Thirty-nine artists and 11 photographers were accepted and each participant made a commitment to finish 4 to 6 artworks for judging and sale.
"En plein air" is a French expression which means "in the open air," and according to Wikepedia, the term is used to describe the act of painting outdoors. Like movie producers who take their crew on location for filming, plein air artists take their equipment outside and find a place that inspires them to quickly create a painting which captures the mood and lighting of the scene they're creating.
For four days in early May the participants of Plein Air Coastal Delaware painted and photographed some of the most beautiful Southern Delaware landscapes, seascapes, churches, historic structures and boardwalk scenes in Lewes, Milton, Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany Beach.
They worked outside from dawn to dusk not only in the glorious sunshine but also in gusty winds and bouts of heavy rain. This was a seasoned group of professional artists and when asked about the challenges of painting outdoors most smiled and explained they had chosen specific locales that took into account current weather conditions. When the downpours came they were already working under bridges, overpasses, open pavillions or from their cars and on windy days they used buildings and groves of trees as shields.
This article features 8 artists who were gracious enough to spend a few moments talking with me and generously allowed me to take photographs of them and of the art they were creating.
Christine Heyse Painting Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk
Photo of Christine Heyse
Christine Heyse is a watercolorist who also works in acrylics and oils. She has won many awards in regional and national exhibitions and in 2010 she was awarded a one month Artist Residency in Brittany France. She and her husband recently purchased a home on the Delaware Bay and she loves doing paintings that reflect the beauty of Southern Delaware.
I photographed her as she worked on a colorful Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk scene. She was standing inside the bandstand gazebo which gave her an elevated view of the boardwalk and ocean.
I planned to catch up with her the next day in Bethany Beach but heavy rains prevented me from venturing outside. She was not intimidated by the weather and later told me that she had painted a scene of the Indian River Lifesaving Station from the cramped quarters of her car.
Now that she owns a home in Delaware, I hope to see more of Christine's lovely paintings exhibited in local galleries and shops.
Pratima Rao Painting a Historic Building in Milton
Photo of Pratima Rao's Painting
Pratima Rao Painting
Pratima Rao is an award winning New Jersey artist who took the Cape May-Lewes Ferry into Delaware for the plein air competition. She quit her job as an engineer seven years ago to pursue her dream of becoming a professional full-time artist.
"My employer wanted me to just take a leave of absence but I knew I was never going back to work as an engineer. Pursuing my dream has turned out to be the best decision of my professional life and I'm happier now than I've ever been before."
She loves painting landscapes in the open air because she feels it helps her capture the scene quickly and explore the effects of light. She was excited about being in southern Delaware, an area that she had traveled through but never really explored.
Pratima has participated in national plein air events and her paintings have been praised as being, "filled with color and light, capturing the feel of a place with an unmistakable style and unique viewpoint."
Look closely at the Milton scene she was working on and you can see that it's an excellent example of her bold use of colors and unique style. The landscape colors on canvas were very different from what I captured in my photo, and much more dramatic.
Arlene Matzkin Painting the Milton Theatre
Photo of Arlene Matzkin
Arlene Matzkin lives in southern Delaware and this is the first time that she participated in a plein air event. She's a retired architect and was painting the Milton Theatre- a building which housed live theatrical performances until the theatre was forced to close its doors in Oct. 2010 when a bank foreclosed on the property.
It's sad to see a once vibrant theatre sitting vacant, but Arlene Matzkin's painting will be a beautiful watercolor that documents the way it looked while the old sign was still up.
David Diaz Painting a Scene in Historic Milton
Photo of David Diaz
David Diaz is a prize-winning artist and educator who lives in Annapolis, Maryland. He had woken up early to capture a sunrise over the Broadkill River in Historic Downtown Milton.
When I saw him at mid-day he'd found the perfect location to view and paint a small bridge that's in the heart of Milton. He looked comfortable sitting in a small vacant lot perched barefoot on a high cinderblock wall that was on the opposite side of the official Governor's River Walk and I could tell just by looking at his relaxed posture that he was a seasoned plein air painter. Indeed, he's a member and Chairman of the Board of the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters and has worked in venues throughout the Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey region.
Deborah McClure Painting Milton Memorial Park
Photo of Deborah McClure
Plein Air Artist Deborah McClure
Deborah McClure fell in love with painting as a small child but her parents didn't allow her to paint at home because it was too messy. She studied watercolors when she was in her 20's, started selling watercolor/collage work in her 30's, and a decade later began a faux painting and mural business which she still owns.
When I saw Deborah she was painting the gazebo in Milton Memorial Park- a colorful and serene scene which included the Broadkill River.
Though painting is her passion, Deborah is also president of The McClure Agency in Lusby, Maryland, which brokers insurance.
Mary Rinderle Smith Painting Historical House in Milton
Photo of Mary Rinderle Smith
Plein Air Artist Mary Rinderle Smith
Mary Rinderle Smith lives in Pocopson Township, PA, where she has converted part of her home into a working art studio. She is a member of the MidAtlantic Plein Air Painters Association and in summertime she paints with the Brandywine Valley Plein Air group.
When I saw her she was painting a historic house in Milton and told me that she'd wanted to name the painting after the owners who currently lived there, but neighbors said the house was vacant and in the process of foreclosure.
When I asked her why she had chosen that particular house she laughed and said that due to the windy weather she'd searched for a place that would provide a wind break. She also liked the colors of the house and the fact that it was surrounded by flowers.
In addition to doing plein air scenes, she has recently done portrait and figurine studies in charcoal, oil and pastel, and still life studies.
Rosemary Connelly's "Fisher Martin House" Painting
Photo of Rosemary Connelly
Rosemary Connelly Received Honorable Mention Award
Rosemary Connelly's painting of the historic Fisher Martin House in Lewes, Delaware, received Honorable Mention in the Plein Air Coastal Delaware competition. I was unable to photograph her on location but she graciously sent me a photo of the painting so I could use it in this article.
Rosemary is a talented artist whose Live Cheap & Make Art Studios are in my hometown of Milford, Delaware. A former graphic designer, she now specializes in watercolor journal paintings.
She is deeply involved with the art community in Southern Delaware and is a member of the Mispillion Art League in Milford, the Delaware Watercolor Society and the Rehoboth Art League.
I will be featuring her in an upcoming hub about watercolor journaling. In the meantime, you can view her work at her website: http://livecheapmakeart.com/ .
Jim Rehak Painting Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge Scene
Photo of Jim Rehak
Plein Air Artist Jim Rehak
Jim lives on the Delmarva Peninsula and has won awards for his regional paintings. He is a graduate of the Maryland Institute of Art and is a portrait and caricature artist, art director at a sign company, teacher and freelance illustrator.
I found him in the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge where he was painting a waterview nature scene. He said he has participated in other plein air events and enjoyed the fact that this one was close to home and he also knew many of the other artists who were participating.
Exhibition and Sale of Plein Air Coastal Delaware Art
The Children's Beach House in Lewes, DE
Photo of Christine Heyse's Art Work
Exhibition and Sale of Plein Air Coastal Delaware Art
The Children's Beach House in Lewes, Delaware, hosted a Patron Preview Reception and Awards Ceremony on May 11, 2012 and a one day Art Exhibition and Sale that was free and open to the public on May 12.
The Rehoboth Art League will also host a month long Plein Air Coastal Delaware Art Exhibition and Sale in June 2012.
I was able to attend the Art Exhibition and Sale at the Children's Beach House and enjoyed viewing the many artistic renditions of coastal Delaware that were done by the talented, accomplished artists who participated in this inaugural event. They captured many iconic scenes and it was interesting to compare how some had done totally different paintings of the same buildings or landscapes.
Photo of Deborah McClure's Art Work
Photo of Rehoboth Art League Homestead
Rehoboth Art League Plein Air Exhibit and Sale
The Rehoboth Art League's exhibit titled, "Highlights From Plein Air Coastal Delaware," will be at their Rehoboth Beach Homestead Gallery from June 1 to June 29, 2012. Visitors can view and/or purchase select pieces of art work that will be on display.
The Rehoboth Art League also has other ongoing events and shows and is a great place to visit whenever you may be in Southern Delaware. To find out further information about all their events call 302-227-8408.
If you are interested in learning more about the Plein Air Coastal Delaware 2012 roster you can see a complete listing of all artists who participated, plus a small sample gallery of their work online at https://www.pleinaircoastalde.org/galleries.html.
Hope you have enjoyed this partial photo gallery of the artists.
Rehoboth Art League and Homestead Gallery
Rehoboth Art League complex including their Homestead Gallery.
Link for those who are inspired to take an art class
- Taking Time For a Class
Go ahead and give yourself permission to take an art class. Fellow hubber, Starstream, shares the experience of painting an apple in a class setting and encourages others to take an art class in their local community.