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Faces of the Festival

The Art Center's major annual fundraiser returns to SLO

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About five dozen artists will converge on the area for the San Luis Obispo Art Center's Sixth Annual Plein Air Festival. Here's a glimpse at a handful of their histories, preferences, and strategies.

PRAYER FLAGS :  By Scott Lloyd Anderson - IMAGE COURTESY OF SCOTT LLOYD ANDERSON
  • IMAGE COURTESY OF SCOTT LLOYD ANDERSON
  • PRAYER FLAGS : By Scott Lloyd Anderson

# Scott Lloyd Anderson, Cary, Ill.

NEW TIMES Have you always painted plein air?

ANDERSON Yes, from the start. I like being outside, in all the elements. Being a painter living in Minnesota, that includes a lot of different kinds of weather. I started painting as a way to get my butt out of the chair in front of a computer. I don't want to trade that chair for one sitting in a studio. That said, I'm learning how physically demanding painting plein air is. I need to get in better shape if I plan to do this for a lot of years.

NEW TIMES How often do you participate in plein air festivals?

ANDERSON I participate in as many as I can get into. SLO will be my fifth this summer and fall. I started two years ago when I was accepted into the Estes Park plein air event. From there, I was accepted into SLO's last year, where I won the top award, and Telluride's this year, where I also won the top award. It seems to be a sort of circuit, not unlike the pro golf or NASCAR circuits.

NEW TIMES How do you get to your locations?

COUNTRY GARDEN :  By Daisy DePuthod - IMAGE COURTESY OF DAISY DEPUTHOD
  • IMAGE COURTESY OF DAISY DEPUTHOD
  • COUNTRY GARDEN : By Daisy DePuthod

# ANDERSON When participating in plein air events, I'm driving. There are only so many sessions available. I don't want to waste time hiking when I don't know exactly what the view is far down the trail. There's a tendency to paint from the side of roads when you do this, and that's awfully unappealing, so I try to walk a little ways off the road so I'm not eating any semi-truck's gravel.

NEW TIMES Do you already know some of the locations where you will be painting for the SLO festival?

ANDERSON I don't know somewhere on the water, somewhere out in the fields I suppose. But if I did happen to know and told you, I'd have to kill you.

Daisy DePuthod, Hopewell Junction, N.Y.

NEW TIMES How often do you participate in plein air festivals?

DEPUTHOD This is my first time participating in a plein air festival on the West Coast. I'm looking forward to it. I often participate in ones close to my area, the Hudson Valley. These are plein air paint-outs and live art auctions and are usually a one-day event held in conjunction with an art center, like the Rye Arts Center, the Barrett Art Center, the Garrison Art Center. I started participating in these in 1990.

NEW TIMES How did you hear about the SLO Art Center's plein air festival?

DEPUTHOD I heard about the SLO plein air festival from fellow artist friends from California. Last year, I visited and painted the coast in this area, which will help me a great deal for this year.

NEW TIMES How would you describe your painting style?

VICTORIAN ON BROAD GREEN:  By Pam Panattoni - IMAGE COURTESY OF PAM PANATTONI
  • IMAGE COURTESY OF PAM PANATTONI
  • VICTORIAN ON BROAD GREEN: By Pam Panattoni

# DEPUTHOD Other painters describe my work as "colorist" due to my strong use of color. The New York Times reviewed a show of my work as "leaning towards Fauvism." I feel my painting style right now is leaning towards impressionism, but I'm sure it might evolve into something else.

NEW TIMES Do you have any particular plein air subjects that you tend to stick to?

DEPUTHOD I believe artists should be able to handle a variety of subject matter. I'm usually drawn to an interesting play of light. It can be on a building, a rock formation, the coastline, a group of trees, an interesting face ... .

NEW TIMES What is your goal over the course of the festival?

DEPUTHOD My goal is to do the best paintings I can, and to sell them! Also to meet other artists, see local galleries, and find great painting locations for future festivals.

Pam Panattoni, Yorba Linda, Calif.

NEW TIMES Have you always painted plein air?

PANATTONI I have an art degree and never painted plein air in school. I returned to painting nine years ago because I was so excited by the plein air paintings that I saw in Laguna Beach, particularly the paintings of Ken Auster that documented and celebrated the local landscape.

NEW TIMES Do you have any particular plein air subjects that you tend to stick to?

PANATTONI I am passionate about the buildings and streets that give each town its unique character. The Central Coast has an abundance of wonderful historic buildings, beautiful neighborhoods, walkable downtowns, and interesting streets. Those places should be celebrated in paintings as much as the beautiful open spaces of the county. San Luis Obispo and the towns of the Central Coast need to be treasured for the very special character that has evolved over the years. I think the residents of the Central Coast feel the same. Often when I am painting in downtown San Luis Obispo or another area, residents come by and tell me stories about whatever I am painting. There is a clear sense of pride and love of the place.

NEW TIMES How do you choose a location?

EVENING HILLS :  By Stephen Sanfilippo - IMAGE COURTESY OF STEPHEN SANFILIPPO
  • IMAGE COURTESY OF STEPHEN SANFILIPPO
  • EVENING HILLS : By Stephen Sanfilippo

# PANATTONI I certainly do a lot of driving to find locations, but for towns and neighborhoods I love to just walk around and take it all in. Many times there is an "Oh! Look at that!" when I see an exciting subject. Before the SLO plein air festival starts, I scout out as many as many possible painting sites as I can. But I also give in to the excitement of new scenes that I discover during my festival week travels.

NEW TIMES Do you have a favorite color?

PANATTONI If I was forced to pick one color, it would be blue, but I love the richness of all colors.

Stephen Sanfilippo, Alamo, Calif.

NEW TIMES Have you always painted plein air?

SANFILIPPO No, I finally ventured out of the studio to paint outdoors when I inherited my grandmother's French easel and supplies in 2004. She was a talented painter, so I felt a great creative and emotional loss when she passed. At first, using her equipment just seemed like a nice way to connect with her, but it ended up being the catalyst for me to finally pursue a career in fine art.

NEW TIMES How did you hear about the SLO Art Center's plein air festival?

SANFILIPPO Other painters ... I enjoy swapping experiences and recommendations with fellow artists.

NEW TIMES Have you been to the SLO plein air festival before?

SANFILIPPO I was invited in 2005, which turned out to be a real highlight of my year. Selling four paintings was such a validation for me. I had some friends and family join me at the quick draw. Our stomachs were fluttering from watching my painting get bid up so high at the auction that day. We really enjoyed the whole week.

NEW TIMES Do you have any particular plein air subjects that you tend to stick to?

SANFILIPPO I find inspiration in both the hills and the coast. Lately I've had a lot of demand for my oak trees and golden hill vistas. Since I need to produce a lot of paintings in a limited time during an event like this (always more than I submit for sale), I tend to steer clear of urban scenes because they slow me down.

NEW TIMES How do you get to your locations?

SANFILIPPO Drive and then hike. I have a painting system that allows me to hike for great distances without much fuss. And the hikes help clear my head and get me focused.

INFOBOX: Nothing plain about it

The Sixth Annual Plein Air Festival, hosted by the San Luis Obispo Art Center, takes place Oct. 1 through 7. Beginning Oct. 2, participating artists (all 54 of them) will have representative pieces on display at the Art Center. On Oct. 3 the artists will be painting within the city limits of San Luis Obispo. Oct. 6 there will be a Quick Draw at Mission Plaza from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Artists will have two hours to complete and frame a painting, which will then be auctioned off between noon and 2 p.m. That evening, from 6 to 9 p.m., the festival exhibition and gala will take place at the Art Center featuring the three top pieces completed by each artist over the course of the week. Tickets to the gala cost $50. Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be the public's last opportunity to view and purchase festival paintings. To order tickets to the gala on Oct. 6, call 543-8562 or visit www.sloartcenter.org.

Arts Editor Ashley Schwellenbach can be reached at aschwellenbach@newtimesslo.com.

 

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