GULFPORT, Fla. — This week artists from across the Tampa Bay area came out of their studios and into the light. It’s all part of Gulfport’s inaugural Plein Air Art Walk. Plein means open-air in French.
Frank Williams isn’t used to people watching his every dip of the paintbrush, but that’s the whole idea behind the Plein Air Art Walk. He’s one of several artists to set up his brushes and canvass to the sidewalks of Beach Blvd.
“Putting yourself out there, you are going to be exposing yourself, you are going to be exposing your talents, and I think that's a good growth opportunity,” said Williams.
Williams said having an audience is just one of the uncontrollable variables of painting outside.
“It’s very different because light changes, sound changes, people come, create shadows, it’s an interesting process but it’s a lot of fun,” said Williams.
Every artist was asked to pick a building and make it their own. Williams picked what is known as the Blue Building, which is also the home of Brenda McMahon’s gallery.
“You have people who live in town and they know all these buildings and all these locations and they get to see their favorite places in a painting,” said McMahon, of the Gulfport Merchant Chamber Arts Committee
Further down the street artist Christine Samad finishes up her painting of a house sandwiched between all these businesses. She couldn’t resist the flock of flamingos in the front yard.
“Sometimes people would just stop and look at the house and then I’d be like, ‘oh yeah I’m painting the flamingos in that house,’ so it was a great opportunity to interact,” said Samad.
The finished paintings will all be on display during the city’s First Friday festivities, starting at 5 p.m.
“It introduced people to the town, they get to see all the different restaurants, the food, the wine bar the breweries, they get to meet the store owners and they get to see how beautiful and delightful our town is,” said McMahon.
Gulfport hopes to make the open-air concept an annual event.
“The first Friday of every April so that Plein Air painters from across the region, state and hopefully the country come to Gulfport,” said McMahon.