When artists paint outdoor scenes in natural light the technique is called plein air (from a French expression meaning “in the open air”). Plein air paintings of scenes in Rowayton are the focus of two special events organized by the Rowayton Arts Center.

“Paint Rowayton” artwork, which must be completed between June 5 and 12, will be featured from June 13-28 in a special show at RAC’s Portside Gallery, 145 Rowayton Avenue.

Paintings that are completed during a two-hour “Quick Draw” on Saturday, June 13, will be displayed and sold from 12:00-2:00 p.m. in Pinkney Park, 177 Rowayton Avenue. Art created by Rowayton Elementary School students also will be displayed.

Those who want to observe plein air artists at work can pick up a map of locations at RAC.

The winning adult artists for “Paint Rowayton” and “Quick Draw” will receive cash awards. Prizes for young artists will be provided by Brendan’s 101 and Jerry’s Artarama. The judge will be artist/instructor Shauna Shane from the Glastonbury Art Guild.

“Paint Rowayton” and “Quick Draw” are sponsored by Fairfield County Bank with additional support from William Pitt Sotheby’s Rowayton and a donation in memory of Jack Munson Burton.

“Plein air painting alters the way artists see things. I am fascinated by the patterns created by light am always seeking the perfect balance of light and color,” says instructor Carol Maguire.

Although the concept of painting outdoors is familiar today, in the mid-1800s, it was revolutionary when artists first left their studios to investigate and capture the effects of sunlight and different times of days on a subject.

Gallery hours at the Rowayton Arts Center are 12:00-5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1:00-4:00 p.m. on Sunday (closed Monday). For information, call 203-866-2744 or visit the web site at www.rowaytonartscenter.org.

For more than 50 years, RAC has sought to create an environment where local and regional artists of all ages and levels of expertise can gather for the purpose of education, exhibition and inspiration. Through its classes, gallery, outreach programs and events, the Arts Center endeavors to promote creativity in the arts and to expand its involvement within the community.
Two important inventions released artists from their studios and allowed them to paint outdoors.

Before paint in tubes became available, artists made their own paints by grinding pigment powders
and mixing them — a difficult task away from the studio. Box easels that included foldup legs and a compartment for art supplies made it easy for painters to carry everything they needed to outdoor