Nestled by a beautiful lake with a mountain view and the smell of deep green pines high in the mountains of upstate New York near the Canadian border is a camp for painters, which occurs just once a year. Like a camp for kids, instead of making pot holders and lanyards, adult campers make art… lots of art. Two paintings a day minimum.
The event, which has taken on the name paint camp, is hosted by PleinAir magazine publisher Eric Rhoads, officially called The Publisher’s Invitational, a retreat for painters with no workshop, no show, no competition, just painters gathered for a solid week devoted to painting and time with old and new friends.
Held June 11-18 at Paul Smiths College of the Adirondacks, this being the 7th in a row, the area is saturated with stunning views for painting. “I’ve never been in one place with so much diversity of paintable spots. I could paint here my entire lifetime and never run out of places to paint,” said Wyoming artist Tammy Callens, who attended the Adirondack event for the first time, but who had attended the very first invitational when it was held in Austin for just 17 painters who were brought in by invitation. Since that time no invitation is required.
The format of this year’s event did something, which few painters will do for themselves, which is a creating a minimum of two paintings per day in two different locations. The group divides into an A and B group, one being easy access road-side painting the other requiring a some mild hiking or climbing, led by Publisher Rhoads, and by local painter Sandra Hildreth and painter David Heath from Virginia.
“We all have busy lives and most can’t take the time to treat themselves to an intense week of painting. By the end of the week everyone is “tuned up” for summer and has ramped up their painting to a much higher level because of the amount of brush time, plus seeing how other painters handle the same scenes,” said Rhoads. “This year, on a rainy morning we treated the group to a painting demo from artist John MacDonald, who was in attendance and has a new DVD coming out. Though the event is not about workshops or a specific artists, there are always several highly accomplished and well known artists in attendance willing to step in to fill some time on a rainy day. Fortunately only one morning had rain and the Adirondacks were rain free and rich with color.
Painting locations included six spectacular waterfalls, multiple lake-front scenes, deep forest brooks, and scenes of layered mountains. Many painters did more than two per day, taking advantage of early sunrises and late sunsets, nocturne painting, and portrait nights with a live model, artist Terrell Gabel did an average of five paintings per day accomplishing twenty-five paintings for the week.
At the end of each day painters bring their paintings into a large room where they stay on display for the week, resulting in several hundred by the end of the week. With an average of twelve per painter there were close to 1000 paintings of the Adirondacks painted for the week.
“I did not know what to expect, said Mitch Neto of Danville, California, a first time attendee, “but it was better than anything I could have imagined because the scenery is beyond anything I’ve seen, and I made so many good friends that I can’t wait to come back next year.”
Lisa Eastman of Chagrin Falls, Ohio said, “I love that I don’t have to do anything for a week. It’s a vacation. No cooking, cleaning, ironing. I just show up and breakfast lunch and dinner are made for me, I don’t have to make any decisions and I can get away from the pressures of everyday life.
Capping a week of painting Rhoads extended an invitation to his family home on a lake nearby where “campers”, as he calls them, reward themselves with a party to relive their week, spend time with friends one last time, and enjoy one final stunning sunset.
The event will be held in the Adirondacks next year on June 10-17, 2018. A similar event, also a publisher’s invitational, called Fall Color Week, will be held this coming October in Acadia National park, where painting not only includes spectacular color, but coastal scenes on Maine’s lighthouses, harbors, lobster boats and mountain vistas. To learn more visit www.fallcolorweek.com