Arnie Fisk of Richmond paints the library during the Grand Prix d’Art in 2016. The Grand Prix D’Art competition is back in Qualicum Beach July 22. — File

Grand Prix D’Art event July 22

Artists headed to Qualicum Beach streets for 24th year

Artists are preparing to take to the streets of Qualicum Beach on Saturday, July 22, to create unique views of the town as part of TOSH’s Grand Prix d’Art competition.

The painting race has artists pick street locations from a hat, and then race to complete an “en plein air” piece inspired by the location within three hours.

The pieces are then framed and brought to TOSH to be judged, hung and put on sale.

The event is in its 24th year, according to a TOSH news release. The founder of the event, Dan Gray, is taking on a judging role this year.

Gray said he was inspired to start the competition after visiting Annonay, France, and seeing a similar competition with artists working en plein air and then displaying their work in shop windows.

“It looked like a good way to boost arts in Qualicum Beach, and to boost the idea that Vancouver Island is a place you can come and watch artists at work,” said Gray. “That was my initial goal; my big, overriding goal was to help the Island become a place to see artists at work.”

Since then, the TOSH competition has gone from having five or six painters take part to 50, Gray said, with artists creating everything from very realistic paintings to very abstract ones. Even fabric artists have entered.

This year, painters of all levels and mediums are invited to join the action.

Painting will begin at 11 a.m. and finish at 2 p.m., when the paintings are to be brought back to TOSH.

Gray said the three-hour timeframe suits his method of painting just fine, with plenty of time to chat with fellow artists and others who come to watch.

However, for artists who work a different method, it’s a great way to get your feet wet with en plein air, he said.

“I think of it as an easy way to paint a city landscape in front of people because there are so many other artists that people don’t have time to harass you too much, or congratulate you too much,” he said with a laugh.

Though other painters may feel differently, Gray said his goal with the day is to capture the mood of the day itself within his painting.

He’s won the competition several times. Though this year he is taking part as a judge, Gray said he hopes to have some time to paint as well.

Asked if he’s excited for this year’s event, he said, “of course,” though he added he anticipates the judging will be difficult.

In addition to the art competition, the event will include the Art in Action craft fair with a focus on multi-dimensional artists and musicians who will be selling and demonstrating their work.

The fair will include weaving, pottery, jewelry, woodwork, photography, furniture, cosmetics and more, says the TOSH news release.

There will also be a performing storyteller at 11:30 a.m. and a Latin jazz concert to run from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

For more information, or to register, go to www.theoldschoolhouse.org/events2.htm.