Painting fall color by day, portraits by night, eating lobster … it’s a tough life being a participant in the Publisher’s Invitational Fall Color Week.
Eric Rhoads, publisher of PleinAir magazine, organized the trip. “The colors were richer and more vibrant than last year as we painted Acadia National Park and the beautiful Schoodic Peninsula area,” says Rhoads. “Lots of time was spent painting rocky cliffs along the ocean, colorful tree-lined streams, lobster boats, and lighthouses in quaint harbors.”

The painting opportunity drew 67 artists from as far away as Florida, California, even Africa. They painted by day, stayed together in accommodations at the Schoodic Institute, and painted from volunteer models at night, while participants Rick Wilson, Debra Joyce Dawson, Turner Vinson, and Debra Reed sang and played music for the crowd. One evening, Joe McGurl stopped by to give an interesting and informative presentation.

There are a number of people who make it a point to attend nearly every Publisher’s Invitational event Rhoads organizes. He puts together a yearly outing to the northern reaches of New York’s Adirondack Mountains each spring, and some regulars have also traveled with him to Cuba. A New Zealand trip is sold out and scheduled for late February. But it is far from an exclusive club; there’s always a great mix of newbies, regulars, advanced painters, and developing artists. “As a newbie I was immediately embraced and made a part of the family,” one artist offered. “I didn’t know what to expect because they said we were staying in dorms. I envisioned shared showers and bunk beds. It was really undersold because they were not dorms at all, but apartments. It was much better than I expected.”

For a painter, there may be no better way to experience Maine’s northern coast than to paint it with a group of likeminded people just when the trees are showing off their fall colors. It is full immersion in plein air work in a beautiful spot for seven straight days — a true gift. But for many participants, it’s about much more than painting. “After a week at the Fall Color event, my skills in painting en plein air have broadened enormously,” says Barbara Tapp. “You arrive alone and leave with your arms full of freshly painted images, new visions, music in your ears, and new artist friends. It is a time to gather and celebrate our love of painting outdoors, to immerse yourself in the beauty of coastal Maine, to learn about others, to see how other painters approach painting outdoors, to share tips and stories. To sing in the evenings and venture forth daily, devoted to capturing in paint something special from the rocky shores with the many lobster boat-filled harbors or the outrageous colors of the red cranberry fields to the beauty of Acadia National Park and the splendid Cadillac Mountain views. My painting ability has taken a huge leap forward, and I have welcomed kindred spirits into my world because I had the opportunity to attend Fall Color Week.”

Rhoads, too, stressed that the week truly ended up being more than what ended up on canvas. “Fall Color Week isn’t just about painting all day every day, it’s a retreat for artists to connect with new friends and to refine their painting from the interaction with others,” says Rhoads. “Goodbyes were harder this year because of the deep bond formed between people who returned for a second year, as well as those attending for the first time.”

“Fall Color Week is like being asked to play golf, showing up, and Tiger Woods is there,” added Debra Reed.


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