Nature inspires art. Some of the world’s finest masterpieces depict the great outdoors: the light, the flora, the fauna. As it turns out, being in nature while painting can inspire as well. Such is the premise behind the Shadows-On-The Teche Plein Air competition, scheduled for March 11-18.
2023 marks the ninth year of the competition, which draws artists from across the country to come and paint “en plein air,” out in nature. According to Shadows Marketing and Programs Manager, Jayd Buteaux, the competition draws interest from a wide variety of artists, some returning for several years in a row. “We have 25 artists, from coast to coast – from California, New York, Wisconsin and, yes, Louisiana,” she says. The artist who won our Best of Show last year, Marc Anderson is returning, and Phil Sandusky and Mary Monk, who have been in the competition since the start nine years ago, return this year, as well.”
The competition begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday the 11th, when the artists convene at the Shadows Visitors Center and have their canvases stamped. This verifies that the paintings will be done during the competition period. All paintings must be submitted by 5 p.m. Thursday to enter the competition.
Artists have no restrictions on their media or subject, other than being outdoors and painting within the time limit. “They can paint whatever they want,” says Buteaux. “There’s a seven-parish area that they can use as inspiration; they can be outside in Iberia, St. Mary, St. Martin, Lafayette, Vermilion, Acadia or St. Landry – a 6,400 square-mile studio to work in.”
Buteaux also would like to encourage the public to seek out these plein air artists and engage with them. “If you see an artist working on a painting, feel free to stop and chat, ask questions, or just watch them work,” Buteaux says. It’s fascinating to observe an artist’s process, especially one working to finish a painting in a short amount of time. We have so many stories of people connecting with artists and their work. Last year, a group of people found one of our artists working in a cane field, they stopped to watch them work, and wound up dropping off bags of food to insure the work wasn’t interrupted by a growling tummy.”
The public can participate in the Plein Air competition in other ways, as well. “We welcome suggestions as to interesting places for our artists to paint”, says Buteaux. “We’ve also had people host artists, sponsor or host lunch for the artists one day of the week, or sponsor an award.”
In addition to the competition itself, there is a slate of events all week the public can attend, from Quick Draw competitions, Artist Demos and Plein Air Technique Workshops, to the Awards Ceremony and Fine Art Sale Friday night, and Coffee with competition judge artist Dawn Whitelaw Saturday morning. All competition art will be available for sale, interested buyers can claim them in some cases right off the easel, and works will be on exhibit at the Shadows Visitor Center until Saturday afternoon.
“We’re awarding more than $10,000 in prizes for this competition,” says Buteaux. “We’ll have Best of Show, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and Honorable Mention, as well as prizes in special categories. We’re excited to partner with Delcambre Seafood & Farmers Market, Twin Parish Port District & Port of Delcambre, Bayou Carlin Cove, and Louisiana Direct Seafood again this year for a separate competition and celebration, Paint Delcambre, Sunday, March 13. Artists will paint Delcambre, there will be a Plein Air workshop, then there will be Cajun music, food and fun starting at 5 p.m. Again, we invite everyone to come out, talk to the artists and enjoy the event.”
Plein Air – fresh air, fine art, great events – naturally! ■