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Members Form Plein Air Group

Anderson Artist Guild member Yvonne Park wanted to share her passion for plein air painting with others. Two years ago, she posted a message on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in forming a group. “No response,” she said.

But last year, in a blog post about artistic New Year’s resolutions on the AAG website, she noticed that two members wanted to explore plein air. One of them was her friend Sue West, so Yvonne called her, and from that seed grew the Tri-County Plein Air Painters, a group of 10: Yvonne Park, Sue West, Sherron Fergason, Donna O’Hara, Brenda McLean, Diana Gilham, Lori Solymosi, Teresa Anderson, Karen Powell, and Jill Rees.

The group meets every other Tuesday at various scenic locations. They paint outside for about four hours, breaking only to eat the lunches they’ve brought. Destinations have included Boxwood Manor (an 18th century farmhouse now serving as a wedding venue in Pendleton), Hagood Mill (a 19th century grist mill near Pickens), Twin Creeks Lavender Farm in Williamston, Table Rock State Park in Pickens (where they painted from the lawn and front porch of the visitors’ center), Chattooga Belle Farm in Long Creek, Split Creek Farm in Anderson (where they painted at its spring festival and donated all proceeds to the farm), on the square in Pendleton (where they painted the town’s big Christmas tree), and Oconee State Park in Mountain Rest, plus various other sites. Their outing so impressed the owners of McLean Maple Farm in Piedmont that the group has been asked to come back and do a show there.

They always arrange permission ahead of time, especially when parking is limited as it was at an abandoned barn where a neighbor allowed them to park in her driveway. Members are always on the lookout for great subjects, like when Sherron reported spotting blue silos and cows in a field.

So energized has this group become that some have accompanied Yvonne to official plein air events. “This year seven of us (and two dogs) went to Edisto for a paintout and rented a house,” said Yvonne. At the Blowing Rock Plein Air Festival, with both professional and non-professional artists competing, Sherron won third place.

The group has even been invited to do annual shows at the Blue Ridge Arts Center in Seneca.

Yvonne’s desire for a plein air community has exceeded her wildest expectations. “I used to like to paint outside by myself,” she said. “It’s good in one respect because there are no distractions. But it can be lonely, and depending on where you go, there is safety in numbers. Now I really look forward to painting with the group; it makes me happy.”


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