Jack Warden first got the idea to have a "paint-out" while staying at his summer home in Michigan.
"It's being done in other places in the country," said Warden, an artist who lives in Great Falls. "They have quite an art colony up there in northern Michigan, and when we were up there last summer they were having a paint-out."
Warden decided that a paint-out would be a wonderful way to promote local artists in Great Falls, and as he has also been helping to coordinate the monthly Riverbend Park art exhibitions, he realized that it would also be an excellent fundraiser project for the park.
"It [a paint-out] just means a group of plein-air landscape artists working together at the same venue," said Riverbend Park Manager, Marty Smith.
Essentially, local painters are invited to submit their work for review by a panel of 3 gallery owner judges — Michelle Ward of the Principle Gallery in Old Town Alexandria, Barry Broadway of the Broadway Gallery in Fairfax, and Kimberly Hartke of the Creative Home Gallery in Reston. The competition is only open to painters working in oil, acrylic, watercolor or pastel.
Judge Kimberly Hartke displays Warden's artwork at her gallery in Reston and says that after she attended one of his recent exhibits in Riverbend Park, she more than happy to be a part of the paint-out.
"That was my first trip to the park, and I was absolutely enamoured with it," said Hartke. "I can't believe I have lived in Northern Virginia all this time, and had never been there. I didn't even know it existed."
THE DUE DATE for the paint-out participation submissions is April 15.
"All you have to do is send in as many as five, or as few as one, digital print-outs of your work," said Warden.
Hartke says that she would personally love to see a wide range of participants and styles.
"I like impressionism, things that are hyper-realistic and everything in between," said Hartke. "I'd like to get a smattering of all the different takes on nature that the artists' eye will come up with. I also like whimsy and child-likeness in arts, so it would be fun if they had some youthful participants."
Based on these submissions, the judges will pick 20 artists who may participate in the paint-out, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 3. Artists whose work has already appeared in a Riverbend Park exhibit, or whose work is scheduled to appear there, are automatically eligible to participate. On June 3, the artists will gather at Riverbend Park and paint their own personal interpretation of the Potomac River landscape.
"This is a chance for people to come into the park and see the beauty of nature, and watch it be interpreted in 20 to 25 different ways," said Warden. "And they can watch as they are being painted... it's a little unusual to have that many painters in one place."
There will be 3 cash awards — a $1,000 Best in Show award, a $500 Artists' Choice award and a $500 Peoples' Choice Award. The cash awards are being made through the sponsorship of Dan and Jan Laytham of Long and Foster Realtors' Great Falls office.
"We're firmly committed to this project," said Dan Laytham. "It's the kind of thing Jan and I want to be involved in. We like to support as many community events as we can."
The artists who participate in the paint-out will also have the opportunity to sell their work in an auction that will be held at the end of the event. 30 percent of the auction proceeds will be donated to Riverbend Park.
To add to the festivities, tickets will be sold for an all-you-can-eat barbecue at the event. Tickets are $19.95 before June 1, and $22.95 from June 1-3.
"A portion of the proceeds will help fund activities at the park," said Eleanor Anderson, the Friends of Riverbend Park coordinator of the Art Exhibition Program.
According to Anderson, the effort to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between Riverbend Park and local artists began last fall.
"Starting last November, Friends of Riverbend Park and Riverbend Park initiated, with the help of Jack Warden, a new program which is displaying local artists' oil paintings at the Visitor's Center one month at a time," said Anderson. "We've been trying to get art that really celebrates the Potomac River and The Gorge."
Jack Warden has been painting in the Great Falls area for 25 years, and says that the Potomac River provides endless inspiration.
"There is something so uncommonly beautiful about the Potomac, especially in certain spots," said Warden. "It's almost as if God is saying, 'so you think you can paint do you?'"
<ro>How to Participate
<lst>Painters who are interested in participating in the June 3 paint-out may submit 1-5 digital printouts of their work, along with a $20 review fee (make checks payable to Riverbend Park) to: Artist in Residence, Riverbend Park, 8700 Potomac Hills St., Great Falls, VA 22066-4125. Please include a daytime phone number. Those selected will be notified by phone and listed on the Friends of Riverbend website (www.forb.org) by May 1, 2006. For more information, please visit www.forb.org.