Art unfolding

Marie Jewell’s painting of the Barber Farm House in progress. (Courtesy photo)

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

This weekend, local artists will flock to Jericho for the Plein Air Festival, setting up their easels in sweeping meadows and shady greens to bring summer landscapes and objects to life.

Three Williston residents are among the nearly 80 artists from Vermont and neighboring states participating in the second year of the festival, set for July 21.

Pastel painter Phil Laughlin said the festival “takes art out of the museum and off its pedestal and makes it very accessible to people.”

“There are a lot of really talented artists out there… it’s pretty amazing to just watch them build a painting,” he said.

Laughlin, a realistic painter with a naturalistic focus, said he will choose a spot based on the light and mood. He painted at last year’s festival, and said it’s a great opportunity for artists to get out of their studios and meet other artists and art appreciators.

Oil painter Marie Jewell said it’s also fun to see what other artists have created while working with the same lighting and subject.

Jewell, a realist who calls herself a “Sunday painter,” said plein air painting—which stems from the French term “en plein air,” meaning “in the open air”—is vastly different than painting from a photograph.

“A photograph can’t capture all the colors and values and vibrancy that you see in the landscape … you lose a lot in a photograph,” she said.

“Painting outside, you make decision about colors and values and what to leave out, and you only have a certain amount of time to capture what you see.”

Pastel artist Marla McQuistin, who is participating for the first time, said painting outside gives artists a better feel for the subject.

“It seems like you’re inside the scene more,” she said.

Artists will be painting at Jericho Settlers’ Farm, Barber Farm and on the Jericho Green, among other locations. Members of the public can watch the artists and talk about their creative methods, beginning at 9 a.m.

Artists will take their work to the Emile A. Gruppe Gallery by 3 p.m. to be framed, and work will be  available for direct sale throughout the day. Paintings will also be displayed at the gallery from July 22 through Aug. 12, with a public reception on July 22 from 2–4 p.m.