Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bucks County Plein Air

By Alan Fetterman

Bucks County is a mecca for the arts, and has been for over a hundred years. It’s a painter’s paradise tried and true, and the action of painting outdoors is a large part of our artistic heritage.

The terms: “plein air,” “alla prima,” and “one go,” all apply to the swift action and first attack for painting out of doors in a swift, painterly manner. It’s a condensed form of artwork that relies on a strong sense of surroundings and artistic foundation. The radically changing conditions at hand include wind, temperature, sun-cast, clouds, bugs, and physical terrain, to name a few. And if you set up in winter, difficulties compound fourfold. For me, the late famed Pennsylvania Impressionists Edward Redfield and Fern Coppedge stand out as the masters of plein air painting in this region when creating such spontaneous beauty. 

I have painted hundreds of pieces outdoors, and have achieved my own fervent expression.  My largest work to date painted outdoors, “Doylestown at the Turn,” is held in the permanent collection of the Doylestown Hospital (main lobby). At 54 inches by 60 inches, the painting delivers a grand-scale vista view of the heart of Doylestown, P.A., in autumn. It was painted in 1999 from the roof of the courthouse in a more relaxed time, when standing on a courthouse rooftop for 10 hours was viewed as secure. I am pleased to say seeing artists outdoors is much more common and the art scene is ever growing.   

With a love for the arts and our wonderful county, the idea to form the Bucks County Plein Air Festival came to light. Now, in partnership with Bucks County Community College (BCCC) and the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, we proudly announce the first national-level event that will be held at Tyler Mansion at BCCC on June 6-11.

As a national juried event, four diverse and exemplary jurors selected 50 artists from a field of hundreds to paint in a five-day county wide painting extravaganza. The week begins as the artists paint vistas near the river, towns, and byways, all culminating in a presentation of over 100 finished paintings offered to the public to purchase and behold. With $15,000 in awards, the prize money and medals will be presented in conjunction with Tyler Tasting.

It is very clear that the fine arts are truly a primary pillar of a great society. When a society is healthiest, the arts are, too. Bottom line: We are blessed to have such a vibrant community, and that Bucks County is a mecca for the arts. Paintings are in many ways wonderful in-house rainbows. Be a part of the colorful scene June 6 to 11, and watch the B.C.P.A. Festival brightly unfold!

Check online for more information at: http://www.bucks.edu/about/foundation/events/pleinairfestival/

Alan Fetterman is a Kay scholar with a degree in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a degree in American studies from BCCC. As an American artist, he has traveled extensively in Europe and South America.

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