Plein air painters Ken Faulk

Painters go au naturel in Colwood

Outdoor subject matter appeals to group of local artists

It’s an old idea with a new following.

And it’s hitting the outdoors of the West Shore with The Al Frescoes Spring En Plein Air show, opening tomorrow (April 25) at Coast Collective in Colwood.

Plein air is the art of painting outside, capturing scenes directly from eye, through brush, to canvas.

The annual show is the third for a group of local artists calling themselves the Al Frescoes. They meet regularly to paint, depending on the weather. Member-artist Ken Faulks said one piece of bad weather, such as rain or wind, is OK, but two working together is enough to put most people off.

Painting outside has a long established history, most notably with the great impressionistic painters of the 19th century, such as Claude Monet and Edouard Manet, as well as post-impressionistic painters such as Vincent Van Gogh.

“It’s different than painting in a studio, more so than just being outdoors,” member Jim McFarland said.

As opposed to painting from a photograph or sketch, the outside world is constantly changing, inspiring a great use of the artist’s interpretation of what they are seeing, rather than trying to create an exact duplication of a still image.

“The clouds go across the sky, the sun changes, so you’ve got light sources changing. Wind changes. It’s not a static world,” McFarland said. “More than anything else, it’s a process of how you see.”

“It’s getting the feeling of the thing you’re standing in front of and whatever way you want to put that down,” Faulks added. “No matter how rough the stuff is, it always seems it’s different, it has something that studio work doesn’t really have.”

The group has about 100 members who show up in various conglomerates for the weekly Friday paint, held in different locations around Greater Victoria, from Sooke to Sidney.

The three-week show at Coast Collective runs until May 4. Gallery hours are from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays to Sundays at 3221 Heatherbell Rd. A wide collection of works from the group is on display.

The plein air group will paint Friday morning at Coast Collective, then display their fresh new works while sticking around to speak with any interested persons who attend.

“The best thing about the group? There is no rules,” McFarland said. “Everyone does what they want to do.”

Painters will start between 9 and 10 a.m. (remembering there are no rules) and will hang their new works at 1 p.m. The artists will have the choice to paint anywhere on the property and visitors are welcome to come and watch them work.

As a part of the show, McFarland will teach a weekend workshop class called the Joy of Painting Plein-Air with Acrylics, which will run through the process of painting outside. The two-day course runs May 3 and 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

To register, call Coast Collective at 250-391-5522. Cost is $150, plus tax.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com