Premier plein air painters capture Winter Park in all its colorful glory.
When people say Winter Park is as pretty as a picture, they may be speaking metaphorically — or they may be plein air artists. It’s more likely the latter in April, when the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden sponsors the annual Winter Park Paint Out.
En plein, or plein air, is a French expression meaning “in the open air,” and refers to painting — sometimes sketching — outdoors with the subject in full view. It became a popular pursuit in the mid-1800s with the invention of box easels and paint in tubes.
Plein air artists are particularly fond of Florida, with its vividly colored subtropical landscapes and year-round temperate weather.
The 2013 Winter Park Paint Out, which ran April 20 through 27, was the fifth for the Polasek, which stages the event as a fund-raiser. The museum, which was founded in 1961, holds more than 200 works by the Czech-born sculptor, who moved to Winter Park in 1949.
“Paint Outs” are popular all over the country, but the Winter Park event is emerging as a favorite for artists who follow the plein air circuit in part because of the lovely setting and in part because the museum is quite adept at selling paintings. The artist sets his or her own price and keeps half the proceeds when a sale is made.
“What makes our Paint Out different is our use of technology,” says Rachel Frisby, curator at the Polasek. “You can see the paintings online, in real time, as they’re completed.”
It works like this: artists fan out across the city, set up easels and create. Then they return their works to the Polasek to be photographed, scanned and posted on the museum’s website. They’re also hung in a designated “wet room” where in-person browsers are welcome.
Hal Stringer, co-chair of this year’s event, also headed up the inaugural Winter Park Paint Out in 2009. Stringer, IT manager for Technologies Management Inc. in Maitland, organized his first plein air event in Crescent Beach as a benefit for a combination spa and art gallery then owned by his sister in law.
“I really enjoyed it because it was a big family event and so many of the artists became personal friends,” says Stringer, who downplays his own artistic ability but in fact produces beautifully abstract landscapes using paint and a palette knife. “So when the Polasek was looking for something new to do, this concept seemed perfect.”
Stringer and Winter Park plein air artist Cynthia Edmonds, whose painting is on the cover of this issue of Winter Park Magazine, were instrumental in starting the Winter Park Paint Out and continuing to elevate its status in the art world.
The Polasek’s event has become so popular, in fact, that the number of artists allowed to participate has been capped at 25. Some artists are specifically invited while others apply and are selected by a panel. The museum simply couldn’t accommodate more paintings, Stringer says.
In 2013, there were 233 paintings completed and 83 sold at prices ranging from about $200 to $3,000, depending upon the stature of the artist and the generosity of the patron.
On the following pages are a selection of paintings from this year’s Winter Park Paint Out. We selected paintings that showed a variety of settings and those that simply appealed to us. You may find something you like even better by visiting polasek.org and browsing the entire selection.