Plein_7

Attention to detail! Artist Anette Power of Newberry Park is close to finishing her oil of a tractor at the Tracy Ranch for the Kern County Plein Air Painting Festival.

For the past five years, the Plein Air Painting Festival has captivated the best painters from around California to capture Kern County through the eyes of an artist.

The festival name is derived from the French term “en plein air,” meaning “in the open air.” And, over the course of five days, 15 artists will take to the outdoors in and around Kern, set up a blank canvas and capture the best that it has to offer.

The handpicked painters will complete three paintings of various city- and landscapes within the county to enter into a juried competition and sale.

Plein-air painting is a world-renowned event and David Gordon, executive director of the Arts Council of Kern, made it a possibility for visitors statewide and local to enjoy and appreciate the beauty that many call home.

“We have such a huge county, from mountains, rivers, streams, fields … small towns, bigger towns, big buildings, farms. We have all the subject matter, so why can’t we have one?” said Gordon, an experienced plein-air artist.

Participants have painted scenes up and down the area, from iconic landmarks like the Kern River, Padre Hotel, Fox Theater, Wind Wolves Preserve and Tejon Ranch to obscure-but-eye-catching spots like the corner of Union Avenue and Fourth Street.

The painting festival took years before it came into fruition.

“We support art and artists, and so what better way than to highlight our county, bring fine art in and people that do it for a living?” Gordon said.

Gordon, never having met a number of the artists in person, invited the artisans based solely on their work.

Eight newcomers will present their pieces at the fifth annual event with seven returning from previous festivals. The majority of the professionals reside in California, with a few bringing their talents from the Western United States.

The group of painters will not only bring years of experience to the canvas, but engage viewers as they paint Kern County one portrait at a time.

The festival kicks off with a reception at the Kern County Museum, 3801 Chester Ave., April 8, from 8 to 11 a.m., where guests can enjoy Covenant Coffee, meet the artists and watch them paint at the museum. On April 11, from 2 to 5:30 p.m., the artists will paint on the sidewalks of 19th and Eye streets in downtown Bakersfield followed by a meet and greet from 5:30 to 7 at the Bakersfield Art Association, 1607 19th St.

The event wraps up with the Plein Air Awards and Sales Gala at the Betty Younger Sculpture Garden at 1330 Truxtun Ave. April 13, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Admission is $45 and can be purchased at www.kernarts.org. 

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