A popular painting race in Qualicum Beach will have a new twist this year.
The Old School House Art Centre’s (TOSH) Grand Prix d’Art has attracted people from around the Island and the lower mainland, as well as some visitors from further flung places. The event originated in France and involves painting en plein air, or outside on location. In past events artists would draw a location which would send them somewhere within the downtown core of Qualicum Beach and they would have three hours to paint something from that area, or their interpretation of something visible. This year, on July 26, artists will get to pick their own locations.
Visitors and residents on the street are encouraged to watch as the masterpieces take shape.
Local celebrated artist Dan Gray started the event in Qualicum Beach 23 years ago, after he returned from a trip to France.
“We brought it back to the Old School House and at this time there wasn’t many [plein air] events,” he said. And now the movement has just blossomed,” he said adding these events now happen all over the world.
Gray hasn’t missed a year, although he was a judge instead of a competitor last year. He said the event is great for people to see art being made but it’s also a great way for artists to try something new and get over their fear of painting in public.
“You don’t feel alone out there and it’s a really good step for someone who wants to try plein air painting in the city, just for the experience.”
Executive director at TOSH, Corinne James, said it’s also nice for artists to come together instead of working in their studios where they can sometimes feel isolated.
“It’s fun for them to have an event like this, a tongue-in-cheek sort of race with a friendly competitive feeling to it.”
The Grand Prix d’Art begins at 11 a.m. and the work must be completed by 2 p.m. There is still room for more painters to join the fun and people can register right up until the morning of the event. A panel of three judges will determine the winner and the pieces will be on display and for sale at TOSH. All ages are welcomed and the youngest competitor was six years old.
Complementing the Grand Prix on Saturday, the Art in Action Fair will begin at 9 a.m. with the Qualicum Beach Farmers’ Market and then thirty-five vendors will be set up in the parking lot around TOSH, including artists, artisans and community craft guilds. There will be demonstrations and opportunities for people to try their hand at some of the art forms. The Kids Art Tent will include pottery-making with Dee Aguilar where children can learn pottery skills and babies can even make a hand or foot print and come back later to collect it.
A free outdoor concert is included in the afternoon’s festivities featuring the Maureen Washington Sextet, a distinguished ensemble that plays jazz, funk, rhythm-and-blues and pop. The group will play from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on TOSH’s outdoor stage where there will be a tent set up with chairs.
One of the largest craft fairs on Vancouver Island will also take place in conjunction with these two events in Qualicum Beach on July 26, the St. Mark’s Fair. One hundred and forty booths will be located on Veteran’s Way and surrounding the Community Hall with everything from quality crafts to antiques, art, food and more.
Find the Grand Prix d’Art on Facebook for updates and information on the event.
Visit www.theoldschoolhouse.org for more on TOSH or call 250-752-6133.