Making an Impression: Annual Olmsted Plein Air Invitational to draw top painters to the city

Painters gather in Olmsted Linear Park for last year’s Olmsted Plein Air Invitational.

Painters will be setting up their easels around Intown from April 28 to May 5 for the 5th annual Olmsted Plein Air Invitational.

According to event co-founder Lilian Ansley, the painting extravaganza will offer a series of experiential and educational events for artists, collectors and admirers. Painting sessions will be held in the invitational’s namesake, Olmsted Linear Park in Druid Hills, as well as the Atlanta History Center and on Miami Circle.

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“It’s a great opportunity to watch impressionist artists create before your very eyes,” Ansley said, noting that 26 of the country’s most noted painters will be on hand vying for the purse and to sell their art to collectors.

The artists will fan out across the city and the state for six days to create new works of art before gathering in Atlanta to showcase their three best works and compete for thousands of dollars in prizes.

A Meet the Artists Welcome Party will be held April 30 at Smith Family Farm on the grounds of the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead. The evening to get a first look at the art by the competing artists along with enjoying food and live music.

The Awards & Collectors Preview Soiree on May 4 will give attendees an opportunity to view and purchase paintings from the artists before the general public. There will also be wine, food and conversation with the participating artists.

The Paint Quick will be held May 4-5 at Olmsted Linear Park and is open to the first 200 artists who want to participate. Artists will have two hours to complete their work. A “practice round” is set for Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. and the competition on Sunday at the same hours.

Ansley, an artist herself, created the invitational with fellow Druid Hills artist Andy Hall to help activate Olmsted Linear Park. “The parks are beautiful and we wanted to create something low impact so that visitors could explore and enjoy the beautiful landscape,” Ansley said. “Plein air – outdoor painting in French – was a movement in the late 1800s that got the artists out of the confines of the studio and painting among the people. The Olmsted Plein Air Invitational is in the spirit of those early impressionists.”

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Ansley said the popularity of plein air painting reemerged in the 1980s in beach and mountain communities, and artists began flocking there. “We thought: why not have a plein air event in the city? There are so many beautiful spots here that lend themselves to creating still life art.”

For those who want to collect art, the work created and sold by the artists won’t break the bank: prices generally run from $500 for a small painting to $2,400 for a larger canvas. Ansley said the artists competing generally sell their work for much higher prices in galleries and with agents, so Olmsted is accessible way to add to or begin building an art collection. “You also get to know and meet the artists who created the work hanging on your walls,” she said.

For the full list of events, visit olmstedpleinair.com.

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