Sunset Plein Air brings life to Barn Shoppes

For the first time in a long time there was life after business hours in the Barn Shoppes in Chadds Ford Township. Several businesses stayed open late while others provided food and beverage during a June 21 Sunset Plein Air event at the Chadds Ford Gallery.

Plein Air is painting outdoors where sounds, smells and activity influence the product. There’s no sketching or photographing an outdoor scene then working in the studio. Soup to nuts, it’s all done outside in the open air.

The event was a collaboration between artist Jacqueline Beam and Chadds Ford Gallery owner Jackie Winther. Beam has been instrumental in promoting plein air in the area and has chaired such events at the Chadds Ford Historical Society.

“The thought was, what can we do that’s new and different,” Winther said.

Paul Scarborough takes time from his painting to give an autograph to local writer Gene Pisasale during the plein air event at the Barn Shoppes.

Paul Scarborough takes time from his painting to give an autograph to local writer Gene Pisasale during the plein air event at the Barn Shoppes.

Last week’s event was designed as a kickoff to summer and a portion of proceeds from sales were donated to victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes.

A handful of artists — including local favorites Beam, Paul Scarborough, and Robert Stack — took part. They arrived at the Barn Shoppes at 4 p.m., staked out a view, loaded their palettes with color, primed their canvases and went to work.

As they painted, dozens of admirers visited the artists, chatting, asking questions and generally enjoying a sunny evening. There was live music, hot dogs on the grill, hors d'oeuvres from Brandywine Prime and wine from the Brandywine River Hotel. Transcend Yoga also held an outdoor class.

Stack — who doesn’t do a lot of plein air — said the event “sounded like a nice idea, a way to have some fun out here.”

Scarborough said he does about a third of his work outside. He said the challenge is working with a small window of opportunity and the elements.

“You have a two-hour window of consistent light, light and color. And the elements, heat and cold, change your reaction. You have to adjust your whole approach,” Scarborough said.

Among those elements are also sounds and wind, and that those challenges that sharpen the senses, making the painting better.

“You look for the fleeting something. It adds to the spontaneity.”

Another of the painters, Valerie Craig, of St. Davids, agreed.

She said working outside “enables you to feel the mood and spirit.” Adding that the sights, sounds and smells come together to generate a whole different feel.

The art will be on display at the gallery for another week and another plein air event is planned for October, weather permitting.

Top photo: Artist Jacqueline Beam works on her painting of Green Meadows Florist in the Barn Shopppes of Chadds Ford.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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