The first annual Plein Air, that is “painting out of doors”, Art Competition took place August 17th and 18th. It was led by Jed Dorsey under the auspices of the Stanwood-Camano Art Advocacy Commission and in partnership with Art by the Bay: so, in short, a great collaboration.

Some Background to the Plein Air event

The Camano Arts Association (CAA) launched the Stanwood-Camano Arts Commission to bring together the many art and cultural organizations in the Stanwood-Camano region who share a vision to make Stanwood-Camano one of the top centers and destinations for the Fine Arts in the Northwest.

These organizations believe that Stanwood-Camano is at a “tipping point” where art might become a key identity and economic engine of our region. We believe that a strong, strategic and intentional promotion of the arts with organizational and institution muscle behind it can make the Stanwood-Camano area a recognized destination for art and play an vital role in the flourishing of our region.

As leaders from these organizations discussed the many art events already taking place in our region, we felt that the creation of an annual Plein Air art competition would supplement what is already happening and have potential to become a popular event, much like the Studio tour is.

As we were having these discussions, we learned that Jed Dorsey was moving to the area. Jed has long had a heart for starting a Plein Air event. He’s participated in many in the past and sees their value for a community. We began to talk with Jed about taking the lead. He agreed.

Jed had conversations with the Stanwood-Camano Art Guild about the possibility of doing the Plein Air Competition in conjunction with their popular “Art By the Bay” show in August. They agreed that it would work well with their event. Val Paul Taylor assisted Jed in creating the event’s promotional look.

Art By Bay Plein Air Sign

That is the background to the event.

The Event Itself

Nine people signed up for the Plein Air Competition. As I drove onto Camano on Friday morning I saw my dad painting the Danielson farm from the side of the road.

I stopped to photograph him. I caught him being a little grouchy about all the cars driving by :). I have to admit it was non-stop cars!

Then I drove to the Camano Marketplace to get my watercolor paper stamped by Jed. The purpose of the stamp is to ensure that artists don’t cheat by painting in advance of the competition.

I set up my easel at the Camano Lutheran Church just south of where dad was.

Painting Lutheran Church

I had never painted, let alone entered, that church though I knew that one of my classmate’s dad, Pam Stordahl, had pastored there for many years.

It is a really picturesque church and I enjoyed painting it. I was happy with the progress of the painting as I went along.

As I painted, the church’s secretary (I forget her name) came out to chat and take pictures of me for the church’s newsletter. I told her that I was a local boy, that I was working on a 2 year project called “Discover Beautiful Camano” and would like to tell the story of Camano Lutheran in that book, and that I had never been inside the church.

She graciously took me on a tour.

Right inside the front door to the historic church there is a wonderful display of old photographs and I was delighted to see many of my Stanwood High School Classmates: Cheryl and Teri Cooper, Michael Hansen, Shannon Tonheim, Cindy Olsen, Heidi Berg, Jim Lindell, Sabena and Victor Mueller, Joy Holstom, Deana Major, Pam Stordahl, Michelle Lien and Kim Lien among others.

The sanctuary was historic and beautiful.

I finished up around lunch time. Then I grabbed lunch and went to the Kristopherson farm. They were gracious to let me paint their beautiful barn. I was able to hammer out a decent painting.

There were, of course, other artists painting around Camano and Stanwood.

One artist

Some of us met up for dinner at a new restaurant at the Marketplace.

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I wasn’t able to participate in the event on Saturday. Lots of fine paintings were done and community among the artists built.

My favorite painting of the lot was dad’s painting of Danielson farm.

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Dad didn’t end up winning, but my painting of the Lutheran Church came in second place and I won $100 for my efforts…and my friend and colleague on the Stanwood-Camano Arts Advocacy Board, Robin Hanks, who is the Co-Director of the Stanwood Historical Society purchased it. So a good day for me for sure.

Best of all was spending a day with my dad and my brother painting.

Dad Jed and I