Plein air ‘Paint Out’ at the Dragonfly Gallery

Vasha Brunelle's "Beach at Wilfrid's Pond." — Photo courtesy of Dragonfly Gallery

Nearly 20 artists, most of them from the Island, have taken advantage of September’s crystal light and mild weather to set up their easels outdoors for Dragonfly Gallery’s invitational Plein Air “Paint Out.” The results of their work began arriving at the Oak Bluffs gallery on September 22, and will continue to go on display through Saturday, Oct. 6, when a reception will take place from 5 to 7 pm.

“People have always been interested in plein air painting,” says Dragonfly’s co-proprietor Don McKillop. “They’re fascinated by how they (the artists) do it and like to see how two different artists depict the same scene.”

This is the third year Dragonfly has offered the event, which produces small, reasonably priced landscapes with Island settings. Last year there were close to 100 paintings shown at the gallery in the plein air exhibit.

Mr. McKillop has suggested subjects for the participating artists, namely Island beaches, lighthouses, and marshes. The artists are not required to choose those subjects. They are asked to submit a minimum of three paintings.

In conjunction with the “Paint Out,” Chilmark artist Marjorie Mason has scheduled a series of four plein-air classes in various location around the Island. Demonstrating with oil on panel board, she is concentrating on color mixing and application.

Two off-Island artists, Claudia Minicozzi of Washington, D.C., and Janice Balson of Phoenixville, Pa., have come to the Island for several years to join in the plein air event. Brandon Newton of Fredericksville, Va., a seasonal visitor, is participating for the second year. Island artists who are producing new work for the event include Ms. Mason, Thaw Malin III, Mr. McKillop, Nancy Kingsley, June Schoppe, Linda Thompson, Marston Clough, Bill Buckley, Adrianne Ryan, Liz Taft, Vasha Brunelle, Stephanie Reiter, Fern Vaughan, and Nina Gomez Gordon.

Ms. Gomez Gordon emailed earlier this week about why the “Paint Out” exhibit at Dragonfly appeals to her. “This show is a great venue for seeing the freshest paint, with the unifying theme of love of our island and the great outdoors.” She likes seeing what other artists are doing, their different styles and the sense of camaraderie with other plein-air painters. “It is very immediate and spontaneous, much like plein-air painting itself,” she says.

Most of Ms. Gomez Gordon’s landscapes are done plein air, although she sometimes paints from photographs. “It’s sometimes difficult finishing outside,” she says. “There are the logistics of changing light, insects, weather, wind, hunger, temperature, but also the sheer beauty of nature can be distracting.” Finishing a painting in her studio allows her to concentrate on some of its formal aspects –– composition, color, value, geometry and texture.

This painter calls September a magical time of year, “with beautiful light, more color as ubiquitous greens start to change into golds, orange-browns, red.” Other advantages to painting in September include having fewer tourists around, kids being in school and driving in less traffic. “As with the rest of the Island, artists breathe a collective sigh of relief, before we start stressing about the holidays and winter,” Ms. Gomez Gordon says.

Plein Air Paint Out, Dragonfly Gallery, 91 Dukes County Ave., Oak Bluffs, through October 6. For information, call 508 693 8877, or go to