Public Painters

Area artists take to the streets

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Every August for the past eight years, dozens of artists have taken to the streets of downtown Bellingham to spend one of the last Saturdays of the summer painting in public as part of the Plein Air Paint Out (PAPO). They’ll do so again this Sat., Aug. 23.

Spearheaded by Studio UFO’s Trish Harding, the reason for the popular event is twofold; in addition to drawing attention to the plethora of artists who live and work in Whatcom County and beyond, the event also gives the participants valuable practice for painting outdoors (which is essentially what “plein air” means).

“Whether painting as exercise or as a finished product, plein air is the act that an artist has available to him/her at any time and free of charge,” Harding says. “For that reason, it is practical practice.  It is also extremely challenging; no confined image of picture plane, an infinite amount of visual information to select or edit, and an endless chase of light and movement—not to mention the weather extremes and elements of just being outdoors.”

Harding speaks from experience. While she’d prefer to paint in decent weather, the artist and instructor has learned to roll with whatever Mother Nature brings—whether it’s wind, rain or fall’s bitter chill. She says it’s changed her studio work, and thinks it does the same for others.

“As an artist, I think it my responsibility to practice what I preach,” she says. “If I tell someone that all painters should include plein air painting in their regimen, then they should expect that I, too, plein air paint regularly.”

This Saturday, look for Harding at her regular spot on Bay and Holly streets—in front of Studio UFO and across the street from Bayou on Bay. She’ll be joining the 26-30 artists who will set up their easels and find their visions along the Holly Street corridor, where they’ll be visible and accessible to the community—many of whom, Harding hopes, will engage the artists about their work.

And, since the event is also used as a teaching tool, those who are involved in the act of painting during PAPO will encompass a variety of skill levels—from professionals who come from both near and far to first-time plein air painters. Harding says that’s an important consideration when it comes to the success of the event, and the resulting show at Mindport Exhibits in September.

“A component of Studio UFO’s mission is to always be inclusive rather than exclusive,” Harding says. “Studio UFO, being a place where it is safe to learn and keep on learning, can only achieve its mission if all skill levels are welcome.

“I want to show the community how many artists are here and to engage the community in a casual and non-competitive wonderful day for all involved,” she adds. “The reception and sale after the Paint Out should feel the same, with the locals coming out to see a great gallery space at Mindport, meet the artists and maybe even purchase local, original, organic art of their downtown.”

More Visual...
Indelible Images
Worlds of wonder at Whatcom Museum

Thanks to a recent viewing of the exhibit “Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates,”  I’m now convinced that an underwater denizen dubbed the “stubby squid” (Rossia pacifica) is my new spirit animal.

Like the dozens of other up-close-and-personal photographs taken by marine biologist…

more »
Story Paintings
David Kane’s tall tales

“Where does one go after reaching the pinnacle of artistic achievement—a solo retrospective at the Frye Museum?” asks the promo flyer for David C. Kane’s exhibit of his paintings at i.e. gallery in Edison.

Kane, a lifelong teacher of art, is a master of technique. His touch is light,…

more »
Skagit Scene
River Gallery’s seasonal visions

Twice a year, Sylvia Strong pulls together some of the best painting, sculpture, glass and jewelry from the Skagit region to show in her gallery, a well-lit former greenhouse. It affords plenty of space to display a selection of small, affordable pieces by 38 invited artists.


more »
Handling the truth


Word Sprints

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

October Chores in the Garden

6:30pm|Skagit Valley Food Co-op

Crossing Zion

7:00pm|Deming Library


8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library


9:30pm|Green Frog

MBT Once Lydia Place
Handling the truth


Halloween Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Anti-Inflammation Menu

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Beet Inspiration

6:30pm|Gretchen's Kitchen

Polyamorous Particulars

7:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Raptor Management

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Bellingham Farmer’s Market MBT Ben Folds
Handling the truth


City Club Meeting

11:30am|Northwood Hall

Finger Painting for Grownups

3:00pm|Hops 'n Headz

Salish Sea Origins

4:00pm|Wilson Library

Marry Shelley's Frankenstein

6:00pm|Blaine Library

Wildlife Photography

6:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Winter Camping Basics


Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Basic Nutrients

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

WJMAC Concert

7:00pm|Unity Spiritual Center


7:00pm|Village Books

Family Game Night

7:30pm|DUG Theater

see our complete calendar »

MBT Ben Folds Northwood Steak and Crab MBT Ben Folds Swinomish 2016 Everybody’s Store Andrew Subin Artifacts Wine Bar Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Lydia Place Village Books Bellingham Farmer’s Market