There were more than a few artists standing on street corners and sidewalks through downtown State College Saturday afternoon.
A total of 24 painters came out for the 13th annual Downtown State College Fall Festival’s newest addition: Uncle Eli’s plein aire painting competition.
The French term “en plein aire” refers to a form of painting that occurs outside, on location, and painting what one sees. Painters had to stay within two blocks of 200 Allen Street, start and finish their work between 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., be limited to certain mediums, and adhere to size limitations, according to official rules from Uncle Eli’s.
After the time frame was over, three professional artists determined a first, second and third place winner as well as four honorable mentions.
Uncle Eli’s General Manager Brittany Roob-Haislmaier brought the idea for the competition from her hometown of Milwaukee, Wis. where she competed in plein aire contests multiple times a year.
Roob-Haislmaier said she decided to hold the event for the Fall Festival to benefit the artists.
“It’s all for the artists. They can sell their work if they want to,” she said. “We also want to show that State College has an awesome art community.”
Other than artists selling their paintings, the purpose of the event was to show the public that the Penn State art community is alive and vibrant, Roob-Haislmaier said.
Third place winner and Uncle Eli’s employee Sean Bodleysaid, “a lot of time artists are stuck in the studio, so it’s good for people to see them out painting.”
Artists spent hours at the spot of their choice, continuing to paint in front of anyone passing by.
Competitors ranged from children to professional artists and anyone in-between who wanted to do some “en plein aire” artistry.
“I saw the event on Facebook and was very excited to come out with other artists for the competition, ” Laura Winn Kane, a professional painter for more than 25 years and painter of the second place piece, said.
When she was not satisfied with her first piece, Kane picked a new configuration of medium and surface in order to finish in about two hours, just in time for the judging.
This event is the first of many plein aire competitions that Roob-Haislmaier hopes to have in State College. She expects to have a significantly larger turnout for the next plein aire competition, scheduled to occur in summer 2013.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are, the idea is to get out and paint” Roob-Haislmaier said.