Long before the news was all COVID-19 all the time, the three-person steering committee of the Plein Air Painters of the Chesapeake Bay (PAPCB) met for a winter lunch and planning session. Each floated their ideas, they made a weekly schedule, and agreed who would contact which property owners for permission to paint on their lands.
By early March, COVID-19 seemed a distant threat. The consensus was it would be OK to start the season because the painters don’t cluster closely together when they paint. Then, a week before the March 24 start date, that changed. Social distancing and staying home became mandates, and the season could not start as planned.
Maggii Sarfaty suggested that the season start anyway with a challenge to painters to paint in their own back yards, since mundane subjects can be some of the most interesting when painted. Then she encouraged the painters to post the results on Facebook with the hashtags #pleinairpaintersofthechesapeakebay and #papcb. Diane DuBois Mullaly added the idea of creating a different challenge for the group every week. And Kate Quinn suggested that an invitation be extended to all the PAPCB members to come up with new weekly challenges.
Promptly on March 24, the PAPCB painting season started with Maggii’s challenge. The results were exciting! The group was working together toward a common goal, their brushes and easels had purpose, and they were creating art en plein air. The Facebook posts and comments were inspiring, interlaced with some good-natured humor and kindness. The transition to a virtual group worked, and PAPCB is thriving.
The following week, the “Talking Trees” challenge was to create a painting with trees as a narrative, followed the next week by an “Outdoor Still Life” challenge. The public is invited to enjoy these new weekly works by PAPCB on Facebook by searching the hashtags #pleinairpaintersofthechesapeakebay and #papcb. Many paintings are for sale upon inquiry. PAPCB invites plein air painters to virtually paint with the group, take the challenges, and post their paintings with the group’s hashtags. For more info please contact Kate Quinn, firstname.lastname@example.org.