Spotlight on painting

Stefanie Lalor of New Jersey paints a “nocturne” (night scene) Monday night, looking at the intersection of Main and Broadway, Saranac Lake, as part of the Adirondack Plein Air Festival. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

SARANAC LAKE — They have come from far and wide. Fifty of them now are staying in hotels and short-term rentals. Their strokes are capturing the essence of this area. It’s the Adirondack Plein Air Festival.

Suzanne Morris is from Virginia and drove up from Charleston, South Carolina, to get to Saranac Lake. It took her two days. On Sunday, she arrived.

For her and the 49 other artists, the week is packed with painting at various locations near Saranac Lake. On Monday, they met on the second floor of the Hotel Saranac for refreshments and beverages. Several are staying in the hotel while others found rentals elsewhere.

With bubbling Prosecco, artists clumped together on sofas and chairs and outside on the balcony. The veterans shared their favorite painting spots while the first-timers waited and asked questions, mostly on how to get there.

Patrick McPhee of Binghamton has been coming to the event for five years. He told Ted Retz of Syracuse where one of his favorite locations was, Black Pond. Retz, who is attending the festival for the first time, said he was looking forward to painting the trails and lakes. He will use oil, acrylic and watercolor paints for the next week. McPhee will use oils, like many of the painters attending.

The natural landscape has attracted many of the painters. The event has gained popularity over the years, according to Sandra Hildreth, a local artist and organizer of the event for 11 years. She said there has been a need to judge all the applicants and select only 50, as the number of interested painters has grown over the years.

“Out of all the events I do, nothing compares to this place,” McPhee said.

Ramarra Jewett, a first-time attendee from Saratoga Springs, said she was looking forward to painting the Flume waterfall in Wilmington because of how well known it is.

Jewett heard of the event through her sketch group. She said they had all attended the event several times and told her to apply. Many of the others had heard about it from friends or saw it promoted on Facebook. Retz said Hildreth had seen his work on Instagram and reached out, saying he should apply.

Morris has been a professional painter for 15 years. This is the first time she has stepped foot in the Adirondacks. She said she loves it.

She prefers to paint boats and water. The abstract reflections appeal to her. She said you can also find similar abstract images in trees.

Morris will try to paint several paintings throughout the week. Hildreth said artists sometimes paint four works a day. They have to paint fast, she said, so as to capture the quickly changing light.

Some waited for complete darkness to paint, however. At 10:30 p.m. Monday, Stefanie Lalor of New Jersey was finishing up her painting. She was worried she wouldn’t finish in time. In her home, a quaint town similar to Saranac Lake, the lights shut off after a certain hour. When she heard that the lights wouldn’t go off here, she was relieved.

Lalor is here for the first time as an adult, but as a child she came to a Catholic camp in the summer with her neighbor.

Lalor was painting the intersection of Main Street and Broadway because she said she has to remember to turn left there to get to where she’s staying. She said she often paints small buildings and houses and roads, sometimes to help remember a location.

On Friday in the Harrietstown Town Hall at 39 Main St., there will be a reception and awards given out to some of the artists. Those who attend — there will be a $20 fee — will be the first to purchase the paintings that were made over the week. Hildreth said somewhere between 300 and 400 paintings will be made.

On Saturday, the public will have an opportunity to view the paintings for free and purchase some if they wish.

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