The non-profit Village Green holds the event every two years. This is the festival’s third year.
Plein air painting is done on location, or in open air, so the artist can capture the atmosphere of the moment. It started in the 19th century. Englishman John Constable, considered a pioneer of the free form, believed that artists should forget formulas and trust their own vision when painting.
And, painters must be confident in their abilities since they only have a set amount of time to recreate the view before it changes, either as the light or weather alters during the day.
Although it is only in its third year, the plein air event has gathered a following among Cashiers area residents, some of who offer their gardens or private property as a painting destination for the event.
“It’s been well received,” Weihs said.
The event opens with a welcome dinner at 5 p.m. July 15 at Village Green Commons on Frank Allen Road. Tickets are $15.
The next day, the 25 participating painters will get to work, creating unique, Cashiers-related works of art. Each morning, the participating artists gather in a location to paint. The first day will start at the Cashiers Village Hillside Shops. Other locations include the Zachary-Tolbert Historic House, The Historic Cottage Inn and Mountain Top Farm.
Although artists will setup their easels in the same general area, it’s up to the individual what they chose to paint — a blade of grass, the side of a barn or an entire field.
“You are really able to do whatever you want in that area,” said David Berger, owner of Mountain Mist Gallery of Cashiers. “That is what’s really cool about the event. It’s what we feel in the area.”
Berger will participate in the event for the first time this year.
Once the painters complete their first work, they can move freely around Cashiers recreating whatever scenes they wish on a canvas. Plein Air has only one rule.
“They have to have a stamped canvas. That prevents them from bringing an already finished piece,” Weihs said.
Each day, the collection of new paintings will decorate the wet room in The Village Green Commons for anyone to view and purchase. Weihs said that they have had success selling many of the event’s works because of the paintings focus on Cashiers and the surrounding landscape.
“That is what people want to buy. They want to buy the community,” Weihs said.
To find out where the artists will plant themselves on any given day, a schedule of Plein Air events will be posted at The Village Green Commons along with the names and cell phone numbers of each participating artist. That way, if someone wants to watch a particular painter, he or she can simply contact the artist directly.
“We hope that a lot of town people will come out and join them,” Weihs said.
Participants should not be hard to find, however, given the small size of Cashiers.
“They will be easy to spot,” Wiehs said.
In addition to spending their days traversing the Cashiers area, all 25 artists will join in a Quick Paint competition, in which they will have only three hours to paint a masterpiece, at the village green. The spectator event of timed art in progress will be held July 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will also include children’s art activities, food and refreshments.
Plein Air will conclude with a dinner Friday, complete with wine, music, a judging of the paintings and an art sale. Tickets are $85.
Check out www.pleinairnc.com for a full schedule of events and artists.