By Tzar Wilkerson
This past Friday and Saturday the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM) hosted its annual Blowing Rock Plein Air Festival, which encourages artists to spend two days painting “en plein air” (a French phrase that means “outdoors” or “in the open air”) around the town.
While artists have likely been painting outdoors since painting began, the 19th century Impressionist movement and the Hudson River school of landscape painting were particularly concerned with capturing scenes on-location. Since then, plein air painting has entered the popular repertoire; North Carolina has a particularly strong community of plein air painters. Plein air painting takes advantage of the unique lighting and movement of natural subjects – qualities that are often impossible to achieve in a studio.
The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum
The 8-year old institution was founded in response to an art collector in search of a permanent home for his collection of works by North Carolina native and seasonal Blowing Rock resident Elliott Daingerfield, who was a significant figure in the American art scene at the turn of the 20th century. Daingerfield himself created several paintings of Blowing Rock’s stunning natural landscapes – perhaps even painting them “en plein air” [PICTURED To The Right]. Since the museum’s founding, the institution has successfully pursued its goal of providing enrichment to the High Country communities by promoting the arts and Southern Appalachian heritage and history through educational programs, exhibitions, activities and permanent collections.
Following lectures and workshops by Wes Waugh, Dwight Rose, and Jeremy Sams on plein air painting, the event began in earnest on Friday. Featured artists Kevin Beck, Scott Boyle, Jeremy Sams, Dwight Rose, and Catherine Hillis joined the other artists in capturing Blowing Rock’s natural splendor on canvas for two days. The festival ended with Saturday’s Wet Paint Show & Sale, at which the fruits of the artists’ labor were available for appreciation and purchase by the public. See Lonnie Webster’s photographs of the artists at work below:
Photos by Lonnie Webster