Plein Air artists have many unique challenges

By Jeff Smith

A RUSHED PAINTER — Nancy Baylor-Taylor of Henderson, Nev., works on her Quick Draw painting on Sept. 29 on Hill City’s Main Street. The artists with the Plein Air Paint-Out had two hours to paint a scene from around town.

Artists received a touch of all four seasons while they were in the Black Hills for the Black Hills Paint-Out.

There was wind, rain and snow in Hill City as well as other places the artists visited.

Organizer Tim Peterson said snow is the worst weather to get but they got through it. Most artists don’t stop to eat or take a break once they start painting. Plein Air artists have to dress for any type of weather condition.

The gallery walk on Sept. 27 was meant to get people in galleries and walk around to look at everything. Those who participated were able to get a stamp at the different galleries and be entered for a grand prize. Five galleries participated in the event. Many people were out on Main Street during the event even though for some of the time it was spitting rain and a jacket was needed. Artforms Gallery closed early due to the weather but there were lots of others.

Crowds came in throughout the days the gallery was set up at the Hill City Senior Center.

Nancy Baylor-Taylor, who received the Best of Show at the Black Hills Plein Air Paint-Out, said the most interesting part was the challenge of painting with all different types of weather.

Sept. 29 was a nicer day and also the day of the Quick Draw competition. During the Quick Draw competition the artists went around Hill City and set up at different spots to paint. They had two hours to paint.

Baylor-Taylor was a little bit nervous because she usually paints something in 2-3 hours. The scene she found was by the Jon Crane Gallery.

All of the Quick Draw paintings were auctioned off at the Hill City Senior Center after the artists completed the paintings. Part of the proceeds from the paintings went to the Boys & Girls Club.

Charlene Fleming, who received an honorable mention at the Plein Air Paint-Out and won the Quick Draw Competition, started painting 10 years ago with the De Smet Plein Air Paint Out.

“It’s the largest Plein Air event in the state,” Fleming said.

It went from 10 people to almost 58 people. Many Hill City people are hoping to see the Black Hills Plein Air Paint-Out grow too.

Fleming has always liked the Black Hills. She said the area is very different for her since she came from the east side of the state.

“I enjoy painting animals so I’m intrigued by the buffalo,” Fleming said.

Baylor-Taylor received the Best of Show at the Black Hills Plein Air Paint Out.

“It’s totally unexpected. There’s so much amazing talent here that I felt that the competition was really tough,” Baylor-Taylor said.

The idea of painting outside is what motivated her in the beginning of her Plein Air painting experience. The Black Hills Plein Air Paint-Out was Baylor-Taylor’s first Plein Air event she participated in.

“I grew up in Rapid City so coming to the Hills to paint was really fun for me,” Baylor-Taylor said.

She said that it was nice to come back and appreciate things that she would ignore or take for granted when she lived here. Her sister was the one who encouraged her to come to the event. She now lives in Nevada and said that there,  artists don’t really paint outside in the summertime.

“It’s definitely a seasonal thing there,” Baylor-Taylor said.

Baylor-Taylor mentioned that the people who organized it did a great job and she is thankful for the support as well as an opportunity to be creative.

“This encouraged me to keep going,” Baylor-Taylor said.

Peterson said the best part of the event is seeing less experienced artists join with more experienced artists. He also liked seeing the faces of the award winners on Friday night.

“It’s always interesting to see artists who are completely surprised and the joy on their faces, the shock, surprise and gratitude, all of that which goes into winning an award they don’t expect.” Peterson said.

The planning stage for the first Black Hills Plein Air Paint-Out took over a year. Peterson said they have gone through a lot of scenarios and meetings have taken place every other week for the last six months.

There was a lot of man hours spent creating the event and fine-tuning it up until it actually took place. A lot of the artists are experienced Plein Air painters so they knew what a good event looks like so their expertise helped in the formation of the event.

“Like all shows, we would like more sales, but despite the inclement weather the artists were all very happy,” Peterson said.