St. Augustine has long attracted and inspired artists with its historic, coastal and architectural beauty. We spoke with two plein air artists that frequently paint St. Augustine’s streetscapes to learn their methods and inspiration in the nation’s oldest city. Don’t miss the St. Augustine Plein Air Paint Out, April 20-26. During your visit, see artists live painting throughout the city’s historic streets.
Mary Hubley is a coastal artist based in St. Augustine. Florida. Her paintings are about living at the seashore, walking the beach, and breathing salt air. Profiled in the “Best of America Artists” books, she gives classes and workshops, does frequent plein air painting, and sells her work through prominent Southern art galleries. See more at maryhubley.com.
Paul Ladnier, Professor Emeritus, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, taught painting and drawing for more than forty years. The recipient of many awards, he has participated in numerous group shows and is an invited artist to many plein air competitions and events, including the prestigious Publisher’s Invitational. Paul continues to paint, exhibit his works, teach privately, and conduct workshops in plein air painting and figure drawing and painting.
Q: Tell us about your artistic style and process. What goes into making a piece like you are creating for the Plein Air Paint Out?
A: I do plein air painting once a week. The rest of the time, I paint full-time in my studio. Plein air – painting outdoors – is an essential part of my process. Without this discipline, I wouldn’t be able to capture shadows and colors properly. It’s also a pleasure being out in nature, and the experience becomes part of my art. Feeling the sun and wind, and tasting the air creates a loose and soft artistic style. I start by finding a great location. Once I find the place, I set up my plein air gear. I paint in oils, and begin with a sketch, block in shapes, and work from dark to light. I spend most of my time carving out the composition, shapes, and value.
A: My style is somewhat impressionistic, but generally adheres to the tenets of many of the great landscape painters like J S Sargent, Camille Corot, Edgar Payne and Winslow Homer to name a few. Plein air painting always depends on many factors such as weather, light, time, organization and choice of the right site. When I find the right location, I spend a few minutes planning the painting and then try to go directly to the solution. It may be necessary to wipe the painting out and start over – and at other times, magical things can happen. Ultimately, it is an artist’s interpretation of a specific place and time. The more convincing the interpretation, the better the painting.
Q: Why are events like the Plein Air series by the St. Augustine Art Association so important to the community and to local artists?
A: Art defines a community. Art creates the soul of a place. And St. Augustine drips with culture and art. The Art Association is a huge support for local artists – it encourages them, and is the base of operations for many local artists. Their hosting these plein air events tells the world that St. Augustine is important and current in the art world.
And St. Augustine has attracted many artists through the years. For artists, this city is a paradise. St. Augustine screams with interesting painting subjects. The local historic places and wilderness is like none other in the world. Unique. Attractive. Paintable.
A: With its great weather and rich heritage, St. Augustine is a perfect place for artists to gather and to paint. This exhibition by the St. Augustine Art Association draws artists both local and regional and gives access and accommodation to painting sites that would otherwise not be available to artists. Also, it’s a public event that draws tourists and locals alike to observe and interact with the artists and be a part of something truly special.
Q: How has St. Augustine changed for the better over the last 10 years, particularly in the realm of arts and culture?
A: St. Augustine has always been known for its art. Artists move here from other places, attracted to the art community and the unique locations in which to paint. In the past 10 years, I’ve seen galleries come and go. Artists move here and move away. One constant: The Art Association. STAAA has grown. I’ve noticed much higher quality art than ever being included in its shows.
Plein air has become popularized internationally over the past 10 years. A few years ago, we formed a local plein air group that meets and paints around the area every week. You can see us downtown, on the Bayfront, and in the back marshes and beaches.
A: The St. Augustine Art Association gets better each year. Under the current leadership, and with its many exhibitions and art promotions, the St. Augustine Art Association has become a destination for lovers of art and culture. It is one of the most popular attractions in St. Augustine and it is now a focal point for visitors to St. Augustine.