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Artists to paint ‘en plein air’ during annual event, Aug. 6-9

(July 30, 2015) Plein air: the quality of light and atmosphere out of doors as rendered in painting. That’s what the Art League of Ocean City will be about next week when it presents  its 10th plein air event, “Artists Paint OC.”
Except that there will be money involved as these artists set up at various sites in the resort from Aug. 6-9 and compete for monetary prizes.
“It’s neat … the White Marlin competition of paintings, which features artists specializing in different mediums and come from all around the country to paint,” said Rina Thaler, executive director for the Art League of Ocean City. “Local people join in for the camaraderie and it has a great energy to it.”
The event will begin next Thursday with painting from 9 a.m. until dusk, followed by a reception for registered painters at the Ocean City Center for the Arts on 94th Street.
On Friday, participants will begin painting at 9 a.m. and will employ a variety of methods such as oils, watercolors, pastels, oil acrylics and graphite pencil. Artists are likely to be found in favorite locations on the beach, near the bays and marshes or at an interesting spot on the Boardwalk.
Next Saturday’s events will start with a chance to paint from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then registered artists will return to the Ocean City Center for the Arts to hang their completed artwork for the competition. Judging will begin at 5 p.m. and the pieces will be on display at the Art League headquarters until Aug. 31.
In addition, each artist will choose another work to be displayed in the classrooms for sale.
“There is a lot of excitement with artists coming in from the field,” Thaler said. “You see where they have been on the Boardwalk, bays, beaches, Seacrets, Fager’s, Macky’s, the harbor in West Ocean City or Assateague. It’s neat to see what parts of Ocean City they captured.”
From 6-8 p.m., the public is invited to attend the Wet Paint Sale, meet the artists and to purchase paintings that might not have even dried completely at that point.
“The local and nationally acclaimed artists hang their artwork on screens in the rooms and it’s all in the moment,” Thaler said. “Attendees can buy original artwork with local themes and have it framed right there.”
There will be a cash bar and complimentary refreshments. The awards ceremony is set for 6:30 p.m. at which time the $1,825 in prize money will be divided between first, second, third and three honorable mentions.
Thaler encouraged people to come out and support the artists by buying their work.
“There will be a couple hundred original pieces to choose,” Thaler said. “You will have it forever and it shows why people love Ocean City with unique lasting memories captured.”
Dennis Young, of New Castle, Del. has participated the last four years and won a couple of awards using pastels and oil paints.
“Everything else is cleared to the side for Ocean City and my plein air weekend,” Young said. “It’s returning home for me when I come back to Ocean City and I always have a good time.”
Young enjoys when people stop to chat and watch as he paints local scenes.
In the past, he has painted and won awards for works completed of the Kite Loft. In addition, he has painted the tackle shop by the inlet, the amusement park on the Boardwalk, Fager’s Island and the Life-Saving Station.
This year, he plans to switch it up and head down to the marina in West Ocean City.
In addition, the Ocean City Development Corporation is sponsoring a timed “Quick Draw” competition on South Division Street from 9-11 a.m. next Sunday morning.
The first-place artist will win $300, the second-place finisher will receive $150 and the third-place winner will take home $50. In addition, the top three paintings will join the plein air competition paintings on display at the Ocean City Art League until the end of August.
“The Quick Draw competition is a great way for spectators to see artists complete a painting right before their eyes,” said Glenn Irwin, executive director of the OCDC. “It’s interesting to see an artist’s interpretation of a street scene or specific object in such a short time frame. The downtown area of Ocean City and its Boardwalk provide many opportunities for such artistic expression.”
Kathy Gibson of Ocean Pines was the first-place winner in the plein air competition last year and she will be back to compete in the Quick Draw on Sunday.
“This event is such an asset to Ocean City, with artists bringing such an interesting viewpoint to the city itself,” Gibson said. “It’s exciting to see what artists choose as their special places.”
Gibson took home first place with her depiction of the trees lining the road to Route 611 on the way to Assateague Island. She was always intrigued with the scenery during early morning or late afternoon drives when the sun would hit the trees.
During the Quick Draw competition, Gibson is keeping her options open on what or where she will paint, but did mention the Life-Saving Station.
“The public should come out and see artwork that tells stories of locations they may have missed or are not as familiar,” Gibson said. “The artists engage the public with their viewpoint of Ocean City.”
Participants can register on site Sunday from 7:30-8:30 a.m. for $15, stop by the Art League on 94th Street or online at
Judging will begin at 11:30 a.m. and another Wet Paint Sale will take place at the Center of the Arts from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. giving visitors another opportunity to purchase original artwork of local scenes.
“There is nothing like this in Ocean City,” Thaler said. “Enthusiasm and enjoyment of the town will be captured on canvas by more than 50 artists.”
Although the event has taken place since 2006, Thaler said the last four years have taken off, with artists flying in from Indiana and Chicago this year. Others are visiting for the first time.
“Plein air painting caught on in recent years ,with artists coming into the field to paint and it’s become a spectator sport as well,” Thaler said. “Being outside has become a movement in the painting world.”
Alison Menke of Silver Spring, Md. is returning for her second year to participate in the plein air competition. Locations are spontaneous for Menke, but she loves the beach.
“What better place to paint then at the beach? I am happy and excited to come back,” Menke said.
Last year, Menke painted an early morning scene on the beach with umbrellas and a canal with a park near the Art League headquarters.  
The Center for the Arts on 94th Street will display a map marking each artist’s approximate location and artists are encouraged to post their whereabouts on its Facebook page during Artists Paint OC.
Thirty percent of all sales go to the Art League of Ocean City to continue its programs and projects. The non-profit organization is devoted to bringing the visual arts to the community through education, exhibits and scholarships.
For more information on Artists Paint OC, call 410-524-9433 or email Learn more about the Art League of Ocean City and the Center for the Arts at