Paint Competition Expands its Portfolio

Michael Situ, of Irvine, found the arch at Treasure Island Beach a fitting subject during last year’s competition. Artists return this Sunday. bei

A new palette of events colors the 13th annual Plein Air Painting Invitational, a competition among artists who paint on location, expanded to offer an array of activities that begin this Sunday, Oct. 8, in Heisler Park.

Unlike in previous years, when festival painters first unpacked their easels along the Montage resort grounds, this year’s event will start with 44 artists that congregate in Heisler Park for the traditional “Quick Draw.”  Results of the popular two-hour paint fest will be displayed at the Laguna Art Museum afterward, where the public can meet the artists, buy works and enjoy refreshments. Works will stay hung all week. Last year buyers chose from 322 small paintings.

During the ensuing week, the artists that have flown in from as far afield as Maryland or Hawaii are free to roam the coast and canyon for scenic spots to capture on canvas. “I feel honored to be invited for the first time,” said Dan Graziano, who paints coastal, mountain and urban landscapes in or near his Los Angeles studio, but wants to concentrate on Laguna’s coves. Artists complete multiple canvases during their week-long visit.

Artists vie for 13 prizes that include cash awards amounting to a total of $12,000 or in-kind awards roughly worth $7,000.

In keeping with local tradition, Laguna Beach families such as Richard and Sande Schwarzstein, who have opened their home for several years now, will host Graziano.

On the other side of the spectrum, Laguna painter Ken Auster  has participated in the Invitational since it’s inception. “I look forward to paint-out every year. Since it’s in my own back yard, it’s simple; no stuff to lug cross country,” he said. “The best part is seeing old friends. It’s like a homecoming and that’s the cake. The event, whatever form it takes, is icing.”

Paint outs are not only open to professional plein-air painters invited from across the nation but also students of the Laguna College of Art and Design and Laguna’s public schools. College students will have their own Heisler quickdraw on Wednesday and a contest that will net the winner a $500 scholarship. The kids’ painting session will be led by artists Rick Delanty, Greg La Rock and Jeff Sewell on Monday. The kids will host a cupcake reception afterward and walk off with roughly $70 worth of art supplies, said Rosemary Swim, executive director of the Laguna Plein-Air Painters Association, and co-sponsor of the invitational with the Laguna Art Museum.

“This year we wanted to involve the entire community in a meaningful way by staging several art related events during the entire week,” said Greg Vail, LPAPA’s president. “The idea is to make the invitational a signature event that involves the entire city and visitors.”

Vail, a trained landscape architect and environmental consultant, is the organization’s first non-artist executive.

“Artists do more than just paint pretty pictures. They can do a lot to raise environmental awareness by getting people to really look at a landscape,” said Vail. To that end, the group has partnered with the Laguna Canyon Foundation to provide public tours after allowing artists to station their easels in remote, seldom accessed areas of the canyon.

On Tuesday, the museum will also host a roundtable discussion themed “Sea, Sage and Sustainability” in conjunction with representatives from the Surfrider Foundation of Orange County, Crystal Cove Alliance and the Laguna Canyon Foundation.

Novice art aficionados can take in a lecture by Jean Stern, executive director of the Irvine Museum on “The Art of Looking at Art: Developing a Critical Eye for Art,” that night.

Traditionally, plein-air painters have used oil and acrylic paints but a painting demonstration at the Heisler Amphitheater will include watercolorist David Solomon, pastel painter Gretha Lindwood along with Delanty using acrylics and Josh Clare oils.

On Thursday, galleries featuring plein-air art will stay open until 7 p.m. (DeRu’s, Hotel Laguna Lobby Gallery and Pacific Edge).

The week will culminate with the Collector’s Soirée where guests can bid on their favorite artist’s output for that week. Tickets cost $125 for museum members and 150 for non-members, but this year $125 can be applied toward the purchase of a painting, said Vail.

LPAPA’s website: www.LPAPA.org  Phone: 949-376-3635

Brochures featuring schedules and a map can be picked up at several Laguna Beach location including Laguna Art Museum (www.lagunaartmuseum.org)

The Week’s Schedule:


Sunday, Oct. 9

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Quick Draw Paint Out. Heisler Park

1-2 p.m. Meet and greet artists. Laguna Art Museum, Free


Monday, Oct. 10

Kids Paint Out and Cupcake Reception, 10 a.m-1 p.m., Heisler Park. Free


Environmental Awareness Panel Discussion, 7 p.m. Laguna Art Museum. Free


Tuesday, Oct. 11


Laguna Canyon tours and artist paint out. 9-10:30 a.m. 949-497-8324 for reservations. Free


Jean Stern lecture, “The Art of Looking at Art”, 7 p.m. Laguna Art Museum. Free


Wednesday, Oct. 12


LCAD Next Generation Paint Out, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Heisler Park. Free


Thursday, Oct. 13


Paint Out at Crystal Cove, 8 a.m-noon. Crystal Cove State Park. Free


Gallery Open House, 5-7 p.m., De Ru’s Fine Art, Hotel Laguna, Pacific Edge Gallery. Free


Friday, Oct. 14


Outdoor art demonstration, 11 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. Heisler Park Amphitheater. Free


Saturday, Oct. 15


Collectors’ Soirée, 6-10 p.m. Laguna Art Museum. Tickets $125-$150


Sunday, Oct. 16

Public Art Show and Sale, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Laguna Art Museum. Free





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