PAS Plein Air Competition opens to the public

PENDLETON — Jeff Compton of Orestes sat in his lawn chair at midday Saturday at the north entrance to Falls Park, sketching a drawing of the park’s Red Barn.
It was about noon and the sketch was the start of what would become his second painting of the day, as part of the Pendleton Artists Association’s first open-to-the-public Plein Air Competition.
“I look for shade, parking and bathrooms,” he said, explaining how he chooses where to set up when he competes in such outdoor art events, which he has done for about two years. “This is the trifecta right here.”
Compton and 14 other artists participated in the Pendleton competition, which required people to register themselves along with their supplies in the morning at the log cabin across from the barn, to verify they were starting with a blank slate. Then, they had until 3 p.m. to finish and submit their work.

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There were two categories: canvas and paper, and photography; and there was prize money, ranging from $50 to $100 for the top three finishers in each category.
Don Saxon, chairman of the event, said Pendleton Artists Society has conducted members-only plein air events the past two years as a way of gearing up for this year’s public event. The first event was at a member’s home, and the second was in town.
“The goal was to get a group of artists to come together, make art and have fun,” Saxon said.
Furthermore, he said, “Any time you get together with a group of artists like this you learn something.”
The number of participants this year was double last year’s, which he said was a good showing the first time going public.
Saxon said participants were set up all over the park and at other places throughout town.
A stroll through the park revealed a few artists set up near the north entrance, several near the falls, and one on the bridge over Pendleton Avenue.
Even the show’s judge — Carol Strock Wasson of Union City — sat painting for fun while waiting for her time to spring into action and decide the winners.
While artists worked primarily on their own, some did take breaks together and chatted, and all had the opportunity to gather afterward for refreshments and the awards ceremony.
Several of the artists on Saturday said they have competed in plein air events for years. Some belong to Indiana Plein Air Painting Association, a more than 20-year-old group with hundreds of members that helped spread the word about the new opportunity in Pendleton.
Amy Pasko of Shirley said she learned about the event as an IPAPA member.
She said since becoming an empty-nester, she has been painting outdoors “quite a bit.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said, and as for Saturday, “It’s the perfect day to paint.”
Sandy Hall of Greenfield, a retired art teacher, said she’s been plein air painting since 2009, and has won prizes on occasion. She’s an IPAPA member, too, and has done “paint outs” in Madison and Brookville.
She and others mentioned there was also a big plein air event in Carmel on Saturday that, as Hall stated, “brings out a lot artists that are very, very talented.
“I felt like this is where I needed to be today,” Hall said.
Not all participants were from out of town or experienced in the plein air format.
Tamara Magers of Pendleton said Saturday was a new adventure for her, one she was excited to try while supporting her local artists society.
“I’ve never been in a competition for plein air before, and I thought if I’m going to try it, I might as well try it here.”
“It’s a beautiful day for it, and I’m very glad Pendleton is doing something like this.”
The artists and organizers weren’t the only ones pleased with event.
Allison Gustin, who was walking through the park with her husband and three children, stopped to express gratitude to at least one of the artists — Pasko.
“Thank you very much for painting in the park,” Gustin said.
A short time after, she explained to a reporter why she made the comment.
“There’s something very beautiful about someone sharing their creativity in an open space,” she said.
Compton, who said as he worked on his sketch for that second piece on Saturday that “I do better selling than I do winning prizes,” added credence to his statement by leaving without an award that night.
However, that also added strength to another of his comments: “You gotta love doing this because you like going out to the park and painting on a Saturday morning.”

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