A ‘plein’ exhibit debuts at the Center

Published 6:51 pm Friday, October 16, 2020

The Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts partnered with the Suffolk Art League to display a new exhibit ‘In Plein Site’ through Dec. 19.

About 54 works of plein air art by regional artists were selected to be displayed in the Suffolk Center’s BB&T and Norfolk Foundation galleries.

Plein air is a style of painting used by many impressionists, including Monet. This style is less about what or how you paint but more about where you paint. Plein air has the artist take everything to the landscape they are painting. It is not done from memory or a photograph, but by what is in front of them.


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“It’s all about catching the light at that specific moment,” said Sandy Waters, the gallery coordinator at Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts and one of the displayed artists. “Artists usually weed out what doesn’t make a good painting. That’s the ultimate goal, not to make it photorealistic.”

Squeaky Swan is an artist that has her painting ‘Flamingo Bouquet Parade’ on display. She admitted that she altered the scenery to make the flamingos closer together than they were to fit more onto her small canvas.

“Plein air is the only kind of painting I do,” said Swan. “I like being outside with the birds and the bees with nature and not stuck inside.”

Other painters on display include Beth Blanchard, Thomas Bradshaw, Gina Buzby, Kirk Dice, Linda Gerek, Mick Grochowski, Barbara Harris, Elisabeth McGinn, Brian Murphy, Eric Thingstad, Rachel Vredenburg, Sandy Waters, Jenny Windsor, and Terry Wylie.

Thomas Bradshaw donated his painting ‘Sunrise on the Chesapeake Bay’ to be raffled. The winner will be announced on Oct. 29 at the ‘Together on Stage’ event over Facebook Live before Connected performs smooth jazz. In-person tickets are $10 a person and are on sale at the Center’s website.

Murphy will also be teaching an upcoming, two-day plein air workshop on Nov. 7-8. At this workshop, painters from beginners to intermediate will paint with a limited palette and be instructed on painting techniques, including establishing composition, tinting the canvas, building the grisaille, and adding layered color to a finished painting.

“We want this gallery to demonstrate what plein air is, and people can become familiar with it so that when we have future events, people will understand what it is about,” said Linda Bunch, the executive director for Suffolk Art League.

The big event planned is the Suffolk’s Plein Air Invitational 2021. This is a three-day event Sept. 9-11 featuring artist Thomas Bradshaw of Blackstone and other talented artists. There will be workshops, art demos, and a Quick Draw and a Wet Paint Sale.

“This is a great opportunity for our two organizations to work together,” said Bunch. “It’s more important now that we support each other and get things done.”

Visit suffolkcenter.org for more information. The Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is located at 110 W. Finney Ave.