When plein-air painter John Cosby decided to found the first Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational in 1998, he wanted to bring the best representational painters from across the nation to his hometown in Laguna Beach. To start off on a good footing, they met at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. “Little did I know that many of the artists from places other than Laguna were not used to such high-end meeting places and the idea of leaving their cars for someone else to park,” he said.
“Man you should have warned me. I would have put on a better shirt,” one participant told him, frantically trying to smooth out wrinkles.
At the first invitational, collectors lined up to get into the Laguna Art Museum to buy paintings and most sold within half an hour. “If you put 50 painters together, the results will be amazing, and those were highly developed and recognized in their respective areas.”
After a seven-year hiatus from painting competitions, Cosby, now of San Clemente, is re-joining the Invitational, scheduled to run Oct.17-25. While the event has changed venues in recent years, its character remains intact.
Currently, paintings from the event catalogue are on display at the Forest & Ocean Gallery downtown, 480 Ocean Ave.
Thirty-five invited artists from as far afield as Rhode Island, Missouri and Hawaii and as close as south-county will participate. Nine are first-timers, said Laguna Plein Air Painters Association Executive Director Rosemary Swimm.
As in the past, out of area artists will be hosted at local homes and paint on location throughout the area for the next week.
Festivities will begin with the popular Quick Draw Paint Out at Main Beach and Heisler Park on Friday, Oct. 17, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. After that, trolleys will transport artists, spectators and collectors to the Festival of Arts grounds for a meet and greet reception from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. A silent auction will enable the public to buy works until 3:30 p.m.
On Sunday, Oct. 18, the artists will disperse throughout the area to paint from dawn to dusk.
Forest & Ocean will serve as a meeting hub for artists, and the public is welcome to visit the “Fresh Paint Gallery” as new paintings are deposited on drying racks.
On Monday, Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the small-fry will have their turn. Forty-two students from El Morro and Top of the World Elementary schools, Thurston Middle School, Laguna Beach High School, St. Catherine and Anneliese schools will be instructed by eight LPAPA painters and receive a plein-air painting kit to keep their passion alive, said Swimm.
For the first time, their efforts will be displayed and for sale at Forest & Ocean beginning Wednesday, Oct. 21, with 100 percent of proceeds earmarked for school art programs, explained Swim. Laguna College of Art and Design students will have their own Next Generation paint out on Wednesday, Oct. 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dana Point based painter Rick Delanty will mentor LCAD students and instruct 45 of the younger children in Heisler Park. “I see the kids experience the same thing I do, connecting with the outdoors and a love of painting and finding something in them that they did not know they had,” he said. A high school art teacher, he said that on that level students make decisions that affect the rest of their lives and that he is passionate about helping them succeed.
On Oct. 19 and 21, artists discuss their work during “Plein Talks–Ask Us Any Question” at 6:30 p.m., also at Forest & Ocean Gallery.
On Thursday, Oct. 22, artists will demonstrate technique at Heisler and Treasure Island Parks from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
On Friday, Oct. 23, LPAPA will hold its ticketed Collectors Soirée and Gala from 7 to 10:30 p.m. at Tivoli Too, 777 Laguna Canyon Road.
This year, there are two public sale days, both at Tivoli Too: Saturday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.