‘Great River Paint Out’

Artists to gather at Hanover
College for outdoor painting

Madison’s Carlson
draws inspiration from plein air

(September 2013) – The Hanover College Great River Paint Out has become a bi-annual tradition for Madison, Ind., artist Kevin Carlson. Every other year, the event invites artists to come and enjoy creating art while surrounded by the beautiful scenery.
“Being in my own backyard is probably the greatest reason” for his perfect attendance at the event. More seriously, Carlson reflects that “there is as much around here to paint as anywhere in Indiana.”


Photo provided

Madison, Ind.-based artist Kevin Carlson says the natural light from working in outdoor settings helps him create his artwork.

Carlson, 55, explains the draw of plein air painting, or painting outside, saying, “I get to see the actual light.” He points out that being on site with his subjects impacts his mood, which in turn, plays into the finished work. “There’s nothing like being right there and recording nature and the scene as it is. I think that appeals to a lot of plein air artists,” he says.
This year’s Great River Paint Out will be held Sept. 21-22 at Hanover College campus. On-site registrations and check in begins at 7 a.m. each day of the event. From 3-5 p.m. Sunday there will be a special Meet the Artists Paint Out Sale and Exhibition, with free hors d’oeuvres and wine sales. Artists of all ages and levels of experience are invited to come and take part in this free event.
“We just ask that participants bring their own supplies, and they are welcome to paint anywhere on campus” says Event Coordinator Jennifer Miller. The event is sponsored by the Rivers Institute at Hanover College and serves as a way to further the educational goals of the Institute.
Miller explains that “The Great River Paint Out supports the natural and cultural aspect of our mission as well as supporting the arts.”


The Paint Out has been held every other year since 2005, and Miller estimates that the Paint Out brings in 80-100 artists each time. “Usually people from the tri-state area – Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio – are the attendees,” she says.
She says the keys to the event’s success are “the beautiful location and it is free to attend.” She particularly highlights the Georgian style architecture displayed by campus buildings and the famed view from the Point as subjects that have proven attractive to artists during past events. “Plein Air painting has always been popular because it offers such endless possibilities,” she notes.
Carlson describes the type of landscape that particularly appeals to him saying, “I do a lot where there’s water, a lake – pastoral scenes.” He suggests that those new to the Great River Paint Out “drive around and just see something that catches your eye.”
Those interested in painting the iconic view of the river bends from the Point might want to make an early start as that is a popular location.
Carlson explains that paint outs are a nice way “just to get together with the other artists and have fun.” While he also enjoys heading out for a solitary afternoon of painting, he cites the “camaraderie” that comes from the paint out gatherings as a large part of what makes plein air painting so rewarding.
“We all tend to meet up and talk about our painting and just enjoy our company,” Carlson says. While many artists at the event are old friends, Carlson also sees the paint out as a way for beginning artists to gain inspiration and even a little advice from more experienced painters.
“We all encourage other people to try it. It’s always a learning experience,” he says.
“We’re not going to criticize anybody for their inexperience,” he adds seriously and believes that most of the artists who frequent paint outs are “more than happy to help” newcomers.
Carlson is also eager to invite spectators to come out and enjoy a day of watching the artists in action, so long as they “don’t stand in front of the scene” being painted. He believes that art collectors can gain a new perspective by seeing how a piece is created.
“I always encourage and like people watching me. It is such a learning experience to see people painting like that.”
He points out that often the works created during the paint out are available for sale and encourages people to speak with an artist if a piece they see being created captures their heart. Being able to meet the artist and actually watch as a piece is created is certain to make a beautiful picture even more meaningful. While an artist who is obviously racing to capture the quickly changing light might not have time for more than a quick smile, those who are at a more leisurely stage in their painting are more likely to able to engage with onlookers.
“I think a lot of us like to answer questions,” Carlson said. “We’re all kind of hams at heart.”

• For more information or to pre-register for the event, please visit http://rivers.hanover.edu/.

Back to September 2013 Articles.



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