The hunt for the perfect angle and light source will soon commence.
The 2014 Forgotten Coast Plein Air Paint Out will be held May 1-11 at various locales from Mexico Beach to Alligator Point.
More than 20 nationally acclaimed artists will gather to participate in the ninth annual Forgotten Coast Plein Air Invitational.
Painters from all over the world will set up their easels and pull out their brushes to document the landscape and culture of "Old Florida."
A true plein air painting is done on location and captures the atmosphere of the moment. The majority of the painting must be completed on site with little to no work to be done in the studio.
Participating artists agree this is the true test of skill as it requires complete confidence in placement of color and brushwork in a short amount of time.
The annual event is coordinated by the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition, a non-profit organization established to produce regional multi-community events aimed to improve the quality of life for the coastal area.
The 10-day event will include five exhibits across the coast, daily art demonstrations, art sales, workshops where attendees can learn directly from the talent and a series of receptions where the public can meet and mingle with the artists.
The Wetroom, the central location where all paintings are hung after completion will be at the Center for History, Culture and Art in downtown Apalachicola.
Special events will include a student art day with handpicked students from Gulf and Franklin Counties who will work one-on-one with artists and a family art day, held on the final day of the Paint Out.
“We put together an event that covers 10 days but we hope that an event like student art day will linger with those students,” President of FCCC Leslie Fedota. “We hope it sets off a spark of creativity and serves as a catalyst for something bigger.
“It’s events like this one that nourish the community and spark vitality.”
Plein Air brings together the communities of Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, Cape San Blas, Indian Pass, Apalachicola, Eastpoint, St. George Island, Carrabelle, and Alligator Point to produce one of the largest art-focused events on the coast. The FCCC also receives support from the Gulf and Franklin County Tourist Development Councils, Mexico Beach Community Development Council and Visit Florida.
While most artists convene from all over the U.S. for the event, there’s one artist in particular that is guaranteed to win the “furthest distance traveled” award.
Leon Holmes, born and raised in Perth, Western Australia, will travel to the panhandle from Germany where he has been living for the past three years.
Holmes got his start in commercial art as an art director, graphic designer and illustrator and painted on the side as a hobby. As time went on, the painting took over and he dropped the commercial work in order focus on painting full time.
While traveling home after the Art in the Open event in Ireland, Holmes found himself speaking with Lori Putnam, regular participant in the Forgotten Coast Paint Out. Holmes said that Putnam spoke highly of the event and she put him in touch with the coordinators who, after reviewing his work, extended an invitation for 2014, which he happily accepted.
Holmes said that he’s known many of participating artists for years, but has only spoken with them via the Internet and is looking forward to meeting them face-to-face.
“There really is so much to look forward to,” said Holmes. “The people, the painting…I come from an old fishing port and sailing background, and I love painting old boats so the subject is going to be fantastic for me.”
Though this will be Holmes’ first time on the Forgotten Coast, he’s showcased at Plein Air events in Ireland, Holland and Poland and has held exhibitions in Amsterdam and New York City.
“All (of the events) have been different and wonderful in their own ways,” said Holmes. “You meet so many other painters, and nearly all are happy to share knowledge.”
Holmes said that due to the small living spaces in Europe, 99 percent of his work is done outdoors. He said that working in “plein air” to capture fleeting moments and time intensive paintings has become what he knows best.
“Plein Air is an international phenomenon that has grown over the last 10 years,” said Fedota. “It forces the artists to step outside a studio and simplify their tools…go back to the basics--the whole point is to capture a moment without all the exquisite detail.
“It’s a very simple concept that requires extraordinary expertise.”
As Plein Air Festivals become more popular around the globe and as the manpower required to put them on increases, Fedota said that she’s proud of the all-volunteer staff that makes the Forgotten Coast Paint Out a reality each year.
“It adds a lot of a heart,” said Fedota. “Volunteering is a thankless task but everyone involved has such a passion for the art and they see how the event benefits the communities.”
The full calendar of events along with participating artists can be viewed online at www.pleinairfl.com.