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First brush of fall

Converse, Indiana to host painters this weekend

Artist Diane Overmeyer paints the chickens at her chosen location. (Provided by Avon Waters)

Artist Diane Overmeyer paints the chickens at her chosen location. (Provided by Avon Waters)

By Laura Koenig | Echo

Painters will splash white canvases with images of rickety barns, towering silos, lumbering trees and quiet town life at the Second Annual Indiana Plein Air Painters Association’s First Brush of Fall on Sept. 24 in Converse, Indiana.

At this paint-out, artists from three states will paint with their own styles “en plein air,” a French phrase meaning “in open air” or “outside.” The painters will arrive in Converse, a 40-minute drive from Taylor, between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., to receive their officially stamped canvases. Then they will have about seven hours to pick and paint a scene from the surrounding area.

Artist Rick Wilson of Edinburgh, Ind., participated in First Brush of Fall last year and is returning for his second round. He was recognized recently for painting scenes from each of Indiana’s 24 state parks to celebrate the state park service’s centennial. Wilson explained his process of choosing scenes to paint in Converse:

“The first thing I look for when choosing a site to paint is emotional appeal, then composition and light,” Wilson said. “Last year I painted a backyard garden scene, backlit sycamore trees and a field of pumpkins.”

In mid-afternoon, each artist will submit one of their paintings to be judged by Shaun Dingwerth from the Richmond Art Museum and Debora Stapleton from The Anderson Center for the Arts. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top artists.

Artist incentives aren’t limited to cash prizes, however. In response to feedback from last year’s participants, some of the paintings will be distributed throughout the Converse community for the public to learn from and enjoy.

With the help of local sponsors, one being Taylor University, the community will purchase one to three paintings. The Oak Hill School Corporation agreed to house the collection, which will continue to grow in the coming years.

Artist and IPAPA member, Avon Waters, is excited about the art collection. He hopes the art will educate the community, especially because Indiana played a large role in the history of plein air, starting with Theodore Clement Steele, an impressionist painter who settled in Brown County, Ind., in the early 1900s.

He hopes the school will eventually hold in-services to educate art teachers about local art and how it ties in with Indiana history.

“This is kind of a legacy we are trying to build upon,” Waters said.

This event not only interacts with artists but also pulls support from local businesses. Steve Reiff, member of the Converse Economic Development Committee, recognized that Converse is already an established dining destination and decided to help add to it.

Businesses are helping and connecting with the artists in a variety of ways.

“Once we told businesses what we wanted to do, they thought it was a great idea,” Reiff said.

The community is hoping to attract collectors to come and buy original pieces. However, locals can purchase pieces from the artists as well. Artists may paint a family’s barn or cabin, creating a treasure for the owner.

At 6 p.m., a local artist will host an after party, providing a time to mingle with sponsors, patrons and locals. The address and more information can be found on the website.

“This is the kind of event artists love going to,” Wilson said. “It’s more than just painting a lot of pretty pictures. It’s about meeting people and building relationships, and if you sell a painting or two, that’s a side benefit.”

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