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Peace River Painters

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Anyone with a desire to paint outside may join us each Monday morning.  We are a painting group, but welcome folks using other mediums. If you are new to plein air painting we've compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions that may be useful.

To get started, show up at the designated meeting point. If you see someone wearing a tan straw hat; that's probably me (Sharon Yarbrough), introduce yourself. There is no formal check in. Choose a location in the vicinity of our meeting point to paint, then go for it. Be mindful to clean up after yourself and dispose of your chemicals and paints responsibly (take them home). Meet back at the designated meeting point around 12 Noon to share and discuss your work..  This is strictly optional.  If you don't want to participate you may leave or continue painting.

Is this a class?

No, this is not a class. We are group of artists (amateur and professional) who paint outside. There are many skill and experience levels within the group. All are welcome. If you need help with something specific when painting, feel free to ask anyone, they're usually more than happy to help. Respect their time, they have to finish their painting too. We hold a critique at the end of each session. 

Do I have to participate in the critique?

No. You have several options.  You can leave or continue painting.  You may not wish to show your work, but you are certainly welcome to watch and listen as the painters show and discuss their work for the day.  This is a great opportunity to get some pointers from experienced painters and new ones alike, but as noted before, it is strictly optional.

What should I bring?

A field easel if you have one. If not, bring whatever you can paint or draw on. One member started painting by bringing an old music stand and coffee table to rest her work on. Bring paints, canvas boards or paper and your paints or pencils.  Some people bring a lightweight chair.  If Summer: It's helpful to bring bug spray, sunscreen, and a visor or hat. Also a umbrella is good to shield your surface from sun glare.  If it is cold, bring gloves and wear warm clothes, a jacket, and good shoes or boots, but that doesn't happen too often.  In fact, since some of our locations are on farms, etc., closed shoes are your best bet.

Are there bathrooms available during the paint outs?

We try to paint in public places where public restrooms are nearby. You may want to scout out a restroom before you begin painting so you know how far away it is (public rest rooms, coffee shop, etc). 

What if I have can't make the exact times you paint?

You are welcome to begin painting earlier than our 9am time as well as finish before or after 12noon.  The times are entirely flexible.

Do I have to commit to the group?

No. There is no commitment. You are welcome to join us as little or as often as you like.

Can I show my paintings in your art show?

Yes. Anyone who is a member of the Visual Arts Center and has painted with the PEACE RIVER PAINTERS during one of our Monday paint-outs is eligible to participate in our annual show. There are some formal requirements such as VAC membership ($55) and it is nice for volunteers to help with the reception.  The art in our show does not have to be strictly done en plein air.  It can be started outside and finished in studio or completed in studio from a sketch done outdoors.  I would encourage all artists to enter works that are either whollly or partially done en plein air.

Is the work for sale?

It's up to the artist. You can sell your work at any time off of the easel, in a frame, etc. There are no eligibility requirements for selling it's a personal choice. However, if you decide to show your work at our annual show, we kindly ask that you price them.  Thirty (30%) percent will go to the Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda  (where we show our work).  The show is set up in the beautiful Goff Gallery for approximately a month.

A Brief Introduction to the PEACE RIVER PAINTERS

Formed in approximately 2004 by painter, Frank Miles, the VAC Plein Air Artists as it was known then, is a free, voluntary, informal association of artists who paint together on Monday mornings in Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota Counties.  We paint from Pineland in the South to Ringling Museum in the North and at points in between.  After Frank, the group was under the direction of local artist Clare Harvey for quite a few years.  Clare is now working with the North Port Art Center.  I took over the group in May of 2012.   Our membership consists of those who paint with us, whether every Monday or only occasionally--the goal being to encourage and promote the art and practice of plein air painting, or painting in the open air, from nature. On a lovely Florida day we have in excess of 20 painters join us.   We are an affiliate group of the Visual Arts Center, 210 Maud Street, Punta Gorda, FL 33950.

Each week we convene at a location in or around Southwest Florida to paint. Location information is distributed via our mailing list and website. Join the mailing list by sending a request to: or sign-up on Facebook or our website.  What keeps us coming back is the excitement of painting from the living landscape. Creating an image in the moment. It is the same excitement that has fired generations of painters before us--and will be sure to do so long after us. 

One key aspect of the Monday morning painting sessions is the group critique, held after every morning's painting session at 12 noon. It is through these informal group critiques that we grow as artists, learning solutions to problems such as composition, perspective, color, and value. We find that while some of us may have more experience than others, everyone is able to add something of value to the group.  That being said, I want to stress that participation is strictly optional.  Some people are not comfortable in this kind of setting, and we totally understand that.

We exhibit our work in a group show once a year at the Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda, FL. We feel that it is important to exhibit our work as a group from time to time; we take pride in the group and what we have accomplished together.   There are also other opportunities to show your work at the VAC if you are a member.

While many members of our group are also members of the Visual Arts Center, one need not be a member of the VAC to paint with us on Monday mornings. Since painting out-of-doors is in itself a daunting proposition, we do not want to raise more barriers to the practice of this art. In fact we have found that encouraging all who want to try their hand at plein air painting has been an excellent way to stimulate interest in taking classes and workshops from our area's master artists.

If you have any questions not answered here, please contact me.