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Annapolis en plein air

Impressionists turn Maryland’s ­capital into a city of light

You can pretend you’re in Paris this week, when artists in sunhats and paint-smattered smocks set up their easels all over Annapolis.
    Paint Annapolis, now in its 15th year, attracts artists from all over — 12 states plus two countries this year — to test their skills and reflect our capital city in a new light. The city is the subject, and you’re the audience. But to watch, you’ll have to find them, for the 40 artists set up their easels wherever the image takes them.
    They’re painting en plein air, French for in open air, which is the name of the movement of artists from indoors to out. Light is their subject, as it was of the French impressionists who inspire the movement.
    Paint Annapolis is the brainchild of the Mid Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association and Maryland Federation of Arts.
    “Our mission is to exhibit current visual art from start to finish,” said Maryland Federation’s Joann ­Vaughan. “This gives the opportunity to see an artist’s technique, approach and process from an up-close perspective.”
    The rules challenge the artists to paint within three days, within specific boundaries and a specific time limit. At the end of each day, at least one painting must be completed, framed and ready to hang.
    The first day of painting May 31 ended in a nocturnal challenge inspiring them to find the light in the night. Painting continues through Friday. On Saturday artists switch views to Historic London Town and Gardens on the South River in Edgewater.
    The brushwork comes to a close with the grand finale of three-hour Dueling Brushes on June 5, when the artists set up as part of the Annapolis First Sunday Festival on West Street.  Anyone can drop in to paint, with students competing in their own category. Each event offers a $450 prize to the top painter. On-lookers help award the $2,175 in cash prizes.
    Paint Annapolis ends June 5, but the paintings have longer life. You’ve got until June 12 to see the results of Paint Annapolis 2016 at Maryland Federation of Art’s Circle Gallery and Summer Annex at 53 Maryland Ave. Dueling Brushes’ winners hang at 49 West Café throughout June.