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By Mary Beth Brath, Co-Coordinator, Artist Colony and Plein Air Paint Out

From a painter’s perspective, Gettysburg literally offers endless vistas.  Coupled with the history and beauty of the region, there is limitless inspiration as well.  It’s no wonder that artists participating in Gettysburg Festival events have become passionate about plein air (open air) painting.  As one of those artists, I’m grateful to be a part of the Festival’s planning for 2012 events, which has stirred up a multitude of fantastic memories for me personally.

In 2008, I remember painting at Spangler’s Spring during the first Festival Paint Out.  There was a re-enactment taking place in the distance but all was peaceful at the spring, located within the boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park.  As I painted, I could hear the distant sounds of the artillery fire.  It was a very emotional experience that completely “hooked me” regarding painting along the Battlefield Auto Tour and I have participated ever since. To see that life-changing painting, click here.

Artists from Maryland (south of the Mason-Dixon Line) and Pennsylvania (north of the Mason- Dixon Line) came together in 2009 to paint Gettysburg’s hallowed battlefield scenes.  Many strong friendships were forged and still exist today. The Plein Air Paint Out event, as part of the Gettysburg Festival lineup, had firm roots at this point.

2009 Plein Air Artists at Gettysburg Festival

In 2010 and 2011, the Artist Colony was held as a juried and residential experience at Gettysburg Festival.   Amazing Master Artists, Lisa Egeli (2010) and Bill Schmidt (2011) led workshops and helped me learn techniques I have now integrated into my daily painting.  Click here to see a YouTube video of the 2010 Artist Colony experience.  The Paint Out also continued, due to strong relationships among the artists and the popularity with the public.  We especially loved having interactions with the public, at our exhibit located at the Gettysburg Railroad Station, especially when they led to sales of our artwork (click here for a few photos!).  I was fully immersed and enriched by both experiences.

Master Artist Lisa Egeli paints on Lincoln Square, 2010 Artist Colony

Some of my fellow artists have also summarized what it’s like to paint in Gettysburg:

“The artists have inspired me, challenged me and nurtured me as an artist.  Last year (2010), this event was one of the best of my life.  It lived up to that lofty height again this year (2011).”

-Cindy Downs

“I was honored and privileged to have been one of the artists selected to participate in the inaugural Artist Colony at Gettysburg in 2010.  It was a wonderful experience that had a profound impact on my direction as an artist… I was so excited to have been selected again to participate in 2011; it was as though I won the lotto twice!… This year’s Colony experience was a very worthwhile experience which I will treasure.  I am very grateful to have been a part of this exceptional opportunity again for a second year and I wish for its continued success.”

-Ann Crostic

Click here to apply to Gettysburg Festival’s 2012 Artist Colony, Plein Air Paint Out or (new for 2012!) the Quick Draw.  I know artists who apply in 2012 will be embraced by the warm artist community that’s developed over the past four years.  Prepare yourself for an incredible experience!

By Kirsten Sheahan, Festival Intern, Shippensburg University Class of 2010, Interdisiplinary Arts Major

I’d love to document the entire 10 days of the festival, but that would almost be enough information to write a novel!  Instead, I’ll share photo highlights and summarize:  it was such a great experience to meet so many talented people who shared the same love of art that I do and to be a part of an organization that wants to involve our small community in the arts.  Being an Interdisciplinary Arts major focusing on art – jewelry design – and photography, I let my inhibitions go and I set off to explore various events and to even help with the first Artist Colony at the Gettysburg Festival.  As always, I took way too many pictures but was able to broaden my portfolio and even have the opportunity to have my photographs considered for future publications.  It was a great way for me to step outside of my usual vision for photography – which is more abstract and color or object oriented – to practice shooting organized events.  

U.S. Marine Corps Band of Quantico, VA at the All-American Brass Picnic

Perspective on Painting: Master Artist Lisa Egeli at work

I would attempt to explain each picture but considering this is a “photo blog” I’d rather let them speak for themselves.  I enjoy shooting to capture patterns, colors, and angles among other unconventional rules.  As you can see by viewing a few of my pictures, some contain a very similar angle for added depth and mystery.  I try to see the beauty in everything which forces me to view things from more than one angle, allowing me to see the un-appealing as engaging.  Ambrose Bierce once said that a photograph was a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.  Considering that I’ve only taken one photography class in my life – last semester! – I feel that I am blessed to view things with a basically untrained eye.  It was very hard for me to break away from taking pictures that consisted of random objects or cloud arrangements to focus on capturing people, but it was definitely a helpful learning experience.  Hopefully with better equipment and more opportunities such as this internship I will be able to take my studies and practices much further. I’d like to thank the Gettysburg Festival for allowing me the opportunity to grow, to test my abilities, and to test new doors and opportunities for my future.  

I hope everyone enjoys this collection of photos–feel free to post comments and offer your feedback.

Artist Mary Beth Brath, Artist Colony "paint out," Gettysburg Battlefield

Artist Peter Krsko's colorful "Pods" awaiting installation

Pennsylvania Craft Beer, All-American Brass Picnic

Artist Patricia Keough: Painting with Wine

Ivan Schwartz Exhibit

By:  Nancy E. Petrisko, Festival Visual Arts Coordinator 

What an incredible three days of commaraderie, community and creativity!  The Gettysburg Festival’s first Artist Colony was a success on so many levels.  The 10 plein air painters and 4 sculptors (ranging in age by at least 4 decades) came from tiny rural towns throughout Pennsylvania , groomed suburbs of Maryland and busy urban centers of Washington, DC. and New York City.  Each brought very personal perspectives – and talents – to the experience. 

Inspirational Setting... the hallowed Gettysburg Battlefield

Painters enjoyed time with Master artist Lisa Egeli , painting outdoors (plein air) at some of Gettysburg’s most beautiful areas.   The first day, they went to Hauser Winery for a sweeping view of farms and open landscape in the early evening hours – followed by a gourmet dinner with exceptional wines.  The following day, they enjoyed the morning sunlight and quietude at Little Round Top (battlefield).  On the final day, they caught the very first rays of light and the increasing bustle of the town square.  Each artist spent their personal time to return to favorite areas, or found new ones, to paint some more. 

Sculptor Jim Mikkelson

The sculptors were a little more limited on the chance to create a work – since sculptures take quite a bit more time than paintings.  But two sculptors brought “works in progress” and were able to use their free time in Gettysburg College’s foundry.  When they weren’t carving, sanding, and shaping, they enjoyed time with Master sculptor Ivan Schwartz.  This intimate group enjoyed lots of time discussing their work, sharing techniques and offering critical views.  Their activities included a tour of the battlefield and statuary; an informative tour of Mr. Schwartz’ exhibit and sculpture at the Gettysburg Visitors’ Center, and a sculpture walk through the Artist Colony participants’ exhibited work as well as the permanent collection on the campus. 

Master Artist Lisa Egeli

The final day was filled with community activities that highlighted the colony experience.  In the afternoon, artists from the colony, fringe festival and masters gathered for a discussion on the “State of the Arts.”   It was a time to discuss the participants’ personal careers and the current trends in the field.    Later, the general public attended Master Classes with Lisa and Ivan.   Outside on the beautiful  quiet grounds of the college, Lisa reviewed and discussed each of the works done by the plein air artists, providing both the artists and the public a critical view of how to create …and view…a painting.   Inside, among the shavings, tools and noise, Ivan reviewed the sculptors’ work – offering advice at critical points in the construction and comments on the technical aspects of sculpture.

The concluding artist reception at Schmucker Gallery was a fitting end to an intense three days.  The celebration helped highlight the festival’s commitment to the visual arts by bringing music, food and the visual arts together in an intimate exchange between audience and artist.   I left feeling so fortunate to have been part of it all.

The entire 2010 Gettysburg Festival Artist Colony