The Paint Dexter Festival visits historic Webster Village


Instructor Ken DeWaard with workshop participants. photo courtesy of the Webster Township Historical Society

From the Webster Township Historical Society:

Plein air artists paint outside - “en plein air" - in the open air.

Prior to the mid-1800s, artists mixed their own paints as they worked in their studios. When pre-packaged paint in tubes became available they were able to venture out and paint the world that they saw around them.

By the end of the century well known Impressionist artists such as Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh were painting landscapes en plain air.

This past weekend four plein air artists met on the grounds of nearby Historic Webster Village where they participated in a two day instructional workshop in plain air painting techniques.

The workshop was offered as part of Dexter’s 10th Annual Paint Dexter - Plein Air Festival that began on Monday, August 15 and runs through Saturday, August 20.

Ken DeWaard, the workshop instructor, is an award winning plein air painter currently based in Maine, and is the judge in this year’s Paint Dexter festival.

Participation in the workshop was open to any artists who pre-registered and paid the fee. The artists did not have to be be enrolled in the Paint Dexter competition to sign up for the workshop.

This year’s workshop took place on the grounds of Historic Webster Village located a few miles northeast of Dexter. The Village is owned and operated by the Webster Township Historical Society (WTHS) and includes seven historic buildings.

The WTHS was happy to host the event in the village, and hoped that the artists were inspired by the historic buildings, spacious grounds and rural surroundings.

Ken began the workshop with a discussion and demonstration of plain air painting techniques that resulted in a nice portrait of the Podunk one-room schoolhouse. After that, the artists spread out around the grounds and selected a subject to paint.

One chose the nearby historic Webster United Church of Christ. Another painted May Mast’s garden and commemorative walk in the middle of the village green. A third artist painted a cow named Jenny in her fenced-in pasture on the small farm adjoining the village.

As the artists worked, Ken circulated from one artist to another to discuss their progress and offer one-on-one instruction.

The Paint Dexter festival officially began on Monday morning when the participating artists checked-in at the festival tent and had their canvases stamped.

There are two categories of artists - professional and emerging. Each category is judged separately with first, second and third prizes cash prizes awarded to the winners. This year there are 29 professional and 31 emerging artists enrolled.

Once they are checked in, the artists are free to spread out to locations of their choosing within the Dexter school district. They work on their paintings until Friday morning when they bring their completed works to the festival tent in Monument Park.

During the week, it’s a treat for local residents to see artists around town turning our everyday surroundings into works of art.

On Friday morning a Quick Draw competition begins at 9:30am. The 22 participating artists have 3 hours to begin and complete a painting. First, second and third prizes are also awarded in this category.

At 2pm on Friday the tent is opened to the public and the art goes on sale. Ken DeWaard will be on hand all afternoon to judge the entries, and at 5pm there will be an award ceremony to announce the winners.

The festival continues with a wine and craft beer reception in the tent gallery from 4:30 to 8:30pm, and musical entertainment in the Gazebo from 6:30 to 9.

The festival tent gallery opens again on Saturday at 9am and is open until 8pm. There will be musical entertainment in the tent from 11:30am to 3:30pm, and a wine and craft beer reception from 3 to 8.

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