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Have you ever participated in a painting event?

Last week I was one of twenty nine artists who participated in PAINT GREAT FALLS. In its eighth year, this annual plein air event is sponsored by The Arts of Great Falls.

For five days I was able to visit my choice of sites within the lovely city of Great Falls, Virginia. The artists were invited to paint at landmarks, historic places and private gardens. The public was invited to come out and watch us work.

For me, painting en plein air creates a state of mindfulness. It is a grounding experience to be outdoors, communing with nature's elements and creating art from what I see. I am in the here and now, working quickly to capture a moment of brilliant lighting, the contour of wandering shadows, and fleeting patterns in the sky. Though challenging, I find the practice very relaxing.

Takeaways from the experience

Overall, I enjoyed Paint Great Falls very much. Although I only ran into a handful of artist friends, I felt that I was part of something greater than myself. The energy was palpable to me.

Specifically, this was my first experience painting in my car. I loved it. The day I went out to the Observatory, it rained. So I set up my tripod and EdgePro in the passenger side of my car and painted the view in front of me. The only downside was that, unbeknownst to me, my headlights were on and I drained my battery. Had to call my husband to get my car back on the road. This added more time to the outing than I had anticipated. Bet I won't do that again.

In addition, this was the first time I needed to frame a wet oil painting. If you are familiar with my art, you know that I paint in a contemporary, expressive style. My work calls for framing that complements this. I use a maple shadow box frame with a black inner lining. As a result the entire face of the painting shows. No part of the image is tucked inside the lip of a frame. I cannot emphasize the amount of care needed to mount the work and be sure not to get wet paint on the frame. I am happy it all worked out well.

The art reception at the end of the event was lovely. Finally, I was able to meet and greet the other artists who participated. Many I knew and some I met for the first time. So much talent in one place. All the art that was created is spectacular.

The exhibit showcasing two paintings from each artist is on display at The Arts of Great Falls through October 1, 2022 located at 756 Walker Road, Great Falls, VA 22066. Gallery hours are Wednesdays 12-4pm and Saturdays 10am-2pm. 703-232-1575. All art is for sale. The show will be available to view online by Friday, September 16th at

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