South Okanagan artists breath fresh air into work

en Plein Air has South Okanagan artists working in nature on Saturday at the Summerland Ornamental Gardens.

Connor charlesworth

Connor charlesworth

In the open air, the act of painting outdoors can be transcending, said Penticton artist Loraine Stephanson.

On Saturday, 20 of the region’s best-known landscape painters and the Friends of the Summerland Ornamental Gardens will team up for a unique one-day celebration with the fourth annual en Plein Air.

“It is a different experience of nature than if you are going for a walk, bike ride or horseback ride because you have to stop and be in one place and take it all in. It is a lovely thing to do, I recommend everyone try it,” said Stephanson, one of the artists working this weekend. “As a painter you have to make certain decisions very quickly because the light changes rapidly and you get elements like wind, so clouds change as well shadows appear in different places.”

Painters will document amazing vistas found over 16-acres that comprise the Summerland Ornamental Gardens from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Stephanson, who teaches Plein Air workshops, said the artist must look longer and deeper at the subject.

“Sometimes it is really hard to get a whole day where you just feel you can spend it outside painting and away from all the other distractions. When you do get out there you get deep into concentration so much so that when it is time to go, you don’t want to,” said Stephanson.

The artist said the added benefit of being outdoors is the sound coming from nature that gives contextual substance to your art.

The Penticton Art Gallery will have a free limited edition guidebook to help viewers with a map, profiles of the participating artists, an introduction to the Summerland Ornamental Gardens and information on the Penticton Art Gallery. The book can be picked up at the gallery, will be available at the gardens on Saturday and can be found online at

Participating artists for this year’s celebration are Zach Abney, Laila Campbell, Connor Charlesworth, Rod Charlesworth, Colette Clark, Glenn Clark, Peter Corbett, Ken Gillespie, Jim Glenn, Kindrie Grove, Beverley Inkster, Robert Jenkins, Robyn Lake, Jan Little, Ingrid Mann-Willis, Angie McIntosh, Carol McQuaid, Dave Nicholas, Destanne Norris, Ron Stacy, Stephanson, Annette Witteman, Marjo Witteman and Nel Witteman.

“We do get quite a few people out watching because they are interested in the particular artists and how we do things, so it is fun,” said Glenn Clark, who is not only an artist at the event but also one of the co-organizers with Penticton Art Gallery curator Paul Crawford.

Each of the artists will donate one of the works they create over the course of the day to be sold at the 35th annual fundraising Art Auction on July 7 in the Centre of Excellence at Okanagan College in Penticton. Tickets for the event are $75 for gallery members and $85 for non-members at the Penticton Art Gallery, or by phoning 1-800-442-2787. All of the works will be framed and on display for purchase at the Penticton Art Gallery from June 19 to July 6.

Clark said the Summerland Ornamental Gardens is also looking at creating a calendar for next year with some of the work featured in it. en Plein Air will go ahead rain or shine this Saturday.

“It would have to be pretty sopping wet to get cancelled. I’ll paint in the rain with an umbrella. If it is a little cloudy with a bit of blue poking through I actually like it because you get some action in the sky and every once and awhile you can catch a nice rain squall over the lake and pop that into the painting,” said Clark. “There is an old story in Plein Air painting, all weather is good, just some is a little bit better.”

Visitors are invited to watch and ask the artists questions while they work at the gardens located at 4200 Highway 97 across from Sun-Oka beach in Trout Creek.

Admission is by donation in support of the Friends of the Summerland Ornamental Gardens.