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Artists gather in Shelter Cove for “Plein air at the Lost Coast”

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SHELTER COVE - “It's painting something that's a moving target. You have a certain amount of time before the sun moves to a different location and you've got to capture the atmosphere and that's what I like,” Paul Kratter, a plein air painter, said. 

Kratter is one of more than 40 artists from the west coast who have gathered in Southern Humboldt for a special kind of painting event.

“We have a 5-day painting event, first of its type, out here at Shelter Cove called Plein air at the Lost Coast,” Mark Mitchell, President of Shelter Cove Arts and Recreation Foundation said.

“Plein air” is a French term, meaning outdoors and that’s exactly what the event is offering the artists in attendance: painting in the wild.

“This is one of 7 or 8 plein air events that I'm doing this year and this is a brand new event. It's great to paint outdoors. Coastal stuff. The weather. You don't know what you're going to get on any of these events,” Kratter said.

Shelter Cove Arts and Recreation Foundation is hosting the event as a way to bring arts to the area and show off their scenic coastal town.

“Artists are always looking for another place to see. Another area they haven't painted before. Mostly what's going on is the artists are out by the ocean or above the cliffs painting the wild. What inspires them,” Mitchell said.

Plein air painting can be difficult with the constantly changing conditions but artists at the event seemed to embrace the challenge.

“I just love it so much. It's so immediate. You have to paint fast and I like to paint fast when you're working out in the open and it comes more from a feeling and a response,” Kathy O’Leary, a studio and plein air painter said.

The five-day event wraps up Sunday but not before a little friendly competition and community gathering. The artists will submit some of their work Saturday to be judged.

“They turn them in at 1 o’clock. The judges will get them hung throughout this room. We'll have panels put up here. We expect about 120 pieces of art. They're limited to 3 paintings or pieces of work per artists. After that, the judges will judge them at 7 o’clock. And then there will be a show,” Mitchell said.