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Strokes in the sand

Fort Myers Beach Art Association hosts annual plein air festival

November 15, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Some painters sit, some painters stand. Some use water colors and others use acrylics, but all plein air painters fare the elements to make their works of art.

The Fort Myers Beach Art Association hosted its 2017 annual Paint the Beach Plein Air Festival last week, bringing 67 plein air painters to the beach to capture the island with paper, brush and pigment.

Shelbie Frifeldt of Fort Myers Beach spread out her beach throw and settled in for a two-hour test of skills during the Sundowner competition Nov. 7. Forty-three artists entered the special contest as part of the week-long event; they had two hours to paint a scene outside of Junkanoo's as the sun set.

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Manon Sander of North Palm Beach crafted her stand to hold a slide full of paints so she had enough room on her palate to blend them. She said she learned the technique from a painter in California.

Frifeldt said it was her first time in Paint the Beach

"I'm trying my hand at it," she said, with a laugh.

Outside of plein air, she also teaches paint and sip classes.

Marie Crist, the chair of the event, said the artists all had a fun week in the festival. The weather gave them hot and sunny days to contend with, but many opted to get out early in the morning or later in the evening to paint a scene and evade the hot temperature.

Nervous Nellies held the welcoming reception; the new Fish-Tale Marina Waterfront Dining restaurant catered the awards reception Friday and the artists got a culinary preview of the restaurant, which hasn't opened its doors.

"The sponsors we had and dozens of community restaurants and individuals jumped up to help us," Crist said. "It was a joy to work with the community."

The Sundowner was a new addition last year, and its popularity brought it back again, as well as the Quick Draw in Times Square. During the rest of the week, the artists scattered around the area to find their fancy and put it on paper. They usually attract the attention of passers-by.

"We encourage people to come up and watch what they artist are doing, so they can see how they produce the art they end up hanging on their wall," Crist said.

Saturday and Sunday, the event held its art sale for the public to purchase some of the pieces created during the week. While last year produced many lovely paintings, Crist says this years' work was even better. The festival added a juried division, which has brought in some of the more seasoned plein air artists.

"The artists are learning, progressing and moving forward," Crist said. "I couldn't believe how beautiful the art was this year."

Here's a partial list of this year's winners.

Main Event Juried Division: first place, sponsored by Santini Marina Plaza & Plein Air Magazine, Craig Reynolds, "The Green Flash"; second place, sponsored by Fish-Tale Marina, Frances Mangino, "Sanding Her Down." Emerging Division: first place, sponsored by Santini Marina Plaza, Christa Friedl, "Low Tide at the Beach"; second place, sponsored by Fish-Tale Marina, Lisa Swift, "Bob Paints the Beach." Quick Draw Event, Adult Division Sponsored by Smokin Oyster Brewery:

first place, Jinsheng Song, "Sunrise on the Building"; second place, Craig Reynolds "Times Square Beach." Student Division, sponsored by Red Coconut RV Park: first place, Hannah Florell, "Pier Pressure"; second place, Hannah Batof, "FMB." Sundowner, sponsored by Junkanoo, Fresh Catch Bistro, Jack Richeson & Co., Inc.: first place, Manon Sander, "Taking a Stand"; second place, Linda Richichi, "Before Sunset." Most Representative of the Beach winner, Barbara Valentine, with "Happy At The Beach" and People's Choice Award winner, Jinsheng Song, with "After The Storm."



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