Chantal Julien, “View from Back Street,” 2017, oil (Best in Show)

Incredible coastal views, talented competition, and more than $6,000 in cash and product awards could be found at the 2017 Parrsboro International Plein Air Festival (PIPAF) this spring. Which artists basked in victory?

Organizers of the Parrsboro International Plein Air Festival claim the area possesses some of the most stunning sea- and landscapes on the planet. Given that, over the last 5,000 years, over 160 billion tons of water have flowed in and out of the Bay of Fundy, it’s not surprising that the landscape is ever-changing, making for an endless supply of extraordinary painting subjects.

The artists of PIPAF 2017

In 2017, 37 juried artists from across North America competed for more than $6,000 in cash and products. Among them were Kim Aerts, Poppy Balser, Kenny Boone, Pauline Boudreau, Edward Buonvecchio, Heather Crout, Twila Robar-DeCoste, Michel Doucet, Carol Douglas, Kathleen Gray Farthing, Cheryl Flemming, Helen Friggiths, Kate Brown, Christopher Gorey, Marc Grandbois, Garry Hamilton, Bob Jay, Alexander Koltakov, Chantal Julien, Sandi Komst, Denise Lanterman, Lio Lo, Mary Martin, Gary McFarland, Carol Morrison, Connie O’Brien, Susan Patterson, Thérèse Provenzano, Julie Purcell, Carol Pye, Gail Sutherland, Robert Sutherland, Ann Timmins, Adam Tregakis, Lorraine Vatcher, Steven Toth, and Mary Sheehan Winn.

Best in Show, which carried a $2,500 prize, was won by Chantal Julien for “View from Back Street.” The $1,500 Second Place prize was taken home by Heather Crout for “Clam Diggers Economy.” Thérèse Provenzano was the $1,000 Third Place winner, Marc Grandbois was recognized for Best Use of Light, and Adam Tragakis’ painting “Island” was deemed Best Seascape.

Artist Chantal Julien at work during PIPAF17
Chantal Julien, “View from Back Street,” 2017, oil (Best in Show)
by Heather Crout, watercolor, 22 x 30 inches (Second Place, Overall)
Thérèse Provenzano, “Back Road Blueberry Field in Diligent River, Nova Scotia,” pastel, 21-3/8 x 21-3/8 inches (Third Place, Overall)

PIPAF also hosted a quick draw, which was won by Joy Laking. Second Place was awarded to Carol Douglas, and Ed Buonvecchio took Third.

by Carol Douglas (Second Place, Quick Draw)
by Adam Tragakis (Best Seascape)
by Marc Grandbois, 2017, oil (Best Use of Light)

Poppy Balser said of her experiences at the event, “Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, Canada, lies on the shores of the Minas Basin at the head of the Bay of Fundy. The shores are lined with red sandstone and blocky gray basalt. In some places there are 200-foot-high cliffs, in others long, low mudflats that are uncovered at low tide. For those who have not seen the Bay of Fundy before, it can be surprising to have the waterline recede and advance by as much as a mile twice a day, every day.

Ann Timmins paints at Diligent River.
Lio Lo at work during PIPAF17
Connie O’Brien at work during PIPAF17
Michel Doucet gets dirty while the tide is out.

“Even though I live in Nova Scotia, on the Bay of Fundy itself, I had never been to Parrsboro before. It was past time I got myself there, and the inaugural Parrsboro International Plein Air Festival was the perfect motivation.

“The scenery was truly stunning. From the first glimpse of the sea from the community of Economy, all the way along the coast to Parrsboro and then on to Advocate Harbour, there was a grand view around every corner.

Susan Paterson working at Parrsboro Harbor

“On the first day of the plein air festival we were permitted to paint anywhere between Lower Economy and Advocate Harbour, a 75 km stretch of coastal landscapes. We were also permitted inland, but this Bay of Fundy girl stuck very close to the shore. The weather was gorgeous early in the morning but clouded over at lunchtime, giving us dull lighting to work with.

“On the second day, our painting boundaries were reeled back in closer to the town of Parrsboro, between the communities of Two Islands and Diligent River.

“Our paintings had to be turned in by 5 p.m. the second day, making this a short event. This was also the day it rained. Painters took shelter where they could, in their vehicles, under porches and bandstands, clutching umbrellas against the wet. I painted on the porch of the Ottawa House Museum, looking out over the bay as the waves washed the shore. Several other painters painted there as well. The museum volunteers made us feel very welcome, offering us complimentary coffee and cookies to help us brave the chill. I was very glad to find that I still had my wintertime mittens in the bottom of my plein air bag. I was very glad to put them on!

“For myself, I struggled with the lighting conditions over the weekend. After painting in the rain in the morning, I framed the paintings I had done so far as I waited out the last of the rain. I was not completely satisfied with the work I had done in the rain and the cloudy conditions. That is why, when the rain stopped at 2 p.m., I went back out to try for one more painting. I had found a herring weir, which was the thing I had most wanted to paint, so that is where I went for my last painting. I only had an hour to paint the weir before it was time to frame it and head to the gallery. I feel that even though it was a small sketch, it was the strongest thing I painted all weekend.”

The judge for this year’s festival was Roger Savage. To learn more, visit the Parrsboro Creative.

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