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Plein Air painting

Nearly 90 artists take part
in Rivers Institute’s ‘Paint Out’

The inaugural event took place at Hanover College

By Michella Marino
Contributing Writer


(October 2005) – On Sept. 17-18, Hanover College wasn’t only occupied by students. More than 90 artists traveled to Hanover’s Point to participate in The Great River Paint Out.

Ronald Mack

Photo by Michella Marino

Ronald Mack poses with his
painting at the Rivers Institute
“Great Paint Out”on Sept. 17
at Hanover College.

The Rivers Institute of Hanover College sponsored this plein air art event. Plein air is French for “In the Open Air” and is not a style of painting per se, but rather a place where artists head outdoors to capture whatever they can on their blank canvas, according to Rivers Institute literature explaining the event.
Michelle Purvis, associate director of Culture Programs for the Rivers Institute, said she wanted the artists to “paint what they’re inspired to paint.” Many artists were seen doing just that all over the Point and Hanover’s 650-acre campus.
Madison-based artist Bob Saueressig participated in the weekend’s plein air activities. He has been an artist since 1960 and currently makes a living as a commercial artist. He is a member of the Madison Art Club and the Cincinnati Art Club, which is the second oldest art club in the nation.
He described the Rivers Institute as being “very well organized.” Saueressig says that the New Harmony, Ind., plein air event sets the plein air standards, but that Hanover’s event “equaled or surpasses” that of the other. He added that it was nice to have an institution backing the event with some corporate sponsors instead of all volunteers.

Paint Out Tent

Photo by Michella Marino

A tent houses the collection of paintings
that are on display during the art show.

Ronald Mack, a well-known Indiana artist from Indianapolis, decided to bring his canvas down for the event as well. Mack was one of five artists who were chosen to work on the book, “Painting Indiana,” which included a painting from each of Indiana’s 92 counties. This book sold out in three hours and generated more than $400,000.
Mack said he enjoys plein air events because it “gives the opportunity to get out with others to paint.” He thinks it’s great for communities to invite artists to paint their neighborhoods and surrounding landscapes, and it’s a real boost for the arts.
Mack said plein air events are becoming more common. Previously, there were only a few shows to attend a year, but now there is practically one every weekend. The beautiful brick Horner Center on Hanover’s campus was his painting of choice on Saturday.
Some of the female artists found it irresistible to stay away from the downtown beauty Madison has to offer, not to mention its shopping. Axie Frye, Mert Strain and Pam Lassiter had all participated in plein air events before and had all been to Madison before but had never combined the two. The three friends met through their local watercolor society, the “Wabash Valley Watercolor Society” in Lafayette, Ind.

Pat Bardes

Photo by Michella Marino

Pat Bardes paints the front of The Attic
on Madison’s Main Street.

Frye and Strain have been painting for the last 18 years, but Lassiter said she has always been involved with art. Now that Lassiter has retired, she has more time to devote to it.
The trio said that oil painting was a popular choice for the Great River Paint Out, and they claimed that you could even “smell the paint in the air up at the Point and around Classic Hall.” However, they chose to paint with watercolors instead of oil paint. They explored downtown Madison for the best flowers and gardens to paint along with the best shopping spots.
Pat Bardes, from Nashville, Ind., stood outside The Attic Coffee Mill Café, 631 W. Main St., Madison, for several hours on Saturday morning painting the storefront along with it’s rustic cart full of blooming geraniums. Bardes painted with chalk pastels but also does oils.
She said The Attic was an attractive candidate to paint because of its “old charm.”
She believes that it represents the town of Madison with its tasteful decoration, and she found the geraniums out front just the right colors for painting. She traveled to the event with two other artist friends from Brown County, Ind.
A mother-daughter team of artists also found the charms of downtown irresistible. Selena Burk, Union City, Ohio, traveled with her daughter, Maria Green, Greenville, Ohio, to paint. They wanted the unique painting opportunities this event provided but also wanted to shop, eat and get the full Madison experience.
At 21, Green was one of the youngest to attend the Great River Paint Out. Burk and her daughter enjoy painting together and find that plein air events provide a nice “bonding experience” for the pair. They painted on Saturday morning at the college and found it “neat” that 40 people could be painting the Ohio River yet all somehow manage to paint a different view of it.

• For more information about the Rivers Institute at Hanover College or future events, visit: www.riversinstitute.org.

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