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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!