Creating art out in the open in the Mad River Valley

Published: Aug. 13, 2023 at 11:41 PM EDT
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WAITSFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - Artists got together in the Mad River Valley for the Vermont Plein Air Festival this week to celebrate the tradition of outdoor painting.

“It’s just the smell, the air, the light is different, it’s a whole different experience,” said Gary Eckhart of Warren.

Artists gathered for the 12th Plein Air Festival. Rather than staying inside with artificial lighting, artists took to the outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and painted barns and bridges throughout Waitsfield with lighting from the sun instead.

Artist Gary Eckhart says he has been doing this since the very beginning and looks forward to seeing the growth of his fellow artists.

“The quality of the art is getting better and it’s interesting seeing some of the returning people how much they have grown and their talent from year to year to year,” said Eckhart.

It is a casual event for people to get to know each other but also do what they love.

“For somebody who has never heard of it, it is a great chance for people to meet artists while they are actually doing their paintings,” said Eckhart.

Eckhart says there’s more to art than people know.

“A lot of people don’t realize the impact of art on the economy of Vermont and by supporting artists, you’re also supporting the state of Vermont,” said Eckhart.

Artist Nicole Gordon came all the way from Maryland to participate in the festival.

“Well, we started coming to Vermont to ski and then one year we came, and we saw the festival during the summer and then we just kept coming back every year,” Gordon said.