Plein Air art show extended through October

At Washington Hall Gallery in Central City

by Virginia Unseld

Plein air painting is hot again in the art world. Painting en plein air was introduced and practiced by the French Impressionists in the 1800s, spurred by the availability for the first time of tins of readymade oil paints and portable easels. Artists were no longer tied to their studios to mix paint, so they began to venture outside to capture their impressions of the sun’s light on the landscape.

A resurgence of plein air painting across the United States and across the world is evident by the sheer number of plein air festivals held each year. Contemporary painters still struggle with the challenges of quickly changing light, wind, rain, and cold as they paint outside in the elements. Central City is home to the latest plein air exhibit. The Central City Opera held a juried festival with 21 artists from seven states selected to paint within a three mile radius of town and show their work for one night at Washington Hall Gallery across from the Opera House.

The Gilpin County Arts Association (GCAA) invited those artists to extend their exhibit for the month of October and supplement the show with additional plein air paintings of the west. This exhibit is entitled “Plein Air EXTENDED.” Most of the artists accepted that challenge and the results are hanging now in Washington Hall. The exhibit will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October.

  Doc’s Hayfield, a 11 x 14 pastel by Dawn Buckingham was painted during the Douglas County Plein Air event held this summer. Dawn, a Niwot resident, is no stranger to plein air painting or to Central City. She won Best Pastel Painting in the 2018 GCAA juried show this past summer. This is her fourth plein air event this year.

Bill Meuser is an oil painter from Golden, CO. A Moment of Sun, a 9 x 12 oil painting is one of his plein air pieces in the exhibit. Bill says, “Painting is meditation, adventure, exploration. Painting takes me places I wouldn’t normally go.”

This plein air exhibit is a first for Central City, but hopefully will become an annual tradition. The aspens are beautiful now, but they won’t last for long. Neither will this exhibit so stop by Washington Hall Gallery in October to enjoy these plein air paintings of Central City, Colorado and beyond.

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