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Gallery opens up to plein air


The work of four open-air painters will be on display at Art Elements through Sept. 21

Being a showcase for Oregon artists, the pieces on display at Art Elements Gallery often highlight the striking landscape and seascape scenes that characterize much of the state. But the gallery’s upcoming exhibit is a little different in that it features paintings that were not only done of the great outdoors, but also done in the great outdoors.by: SUBMITTED - A quartet of artists takes a break from practicing plein air painting to ham it up for the camera recently at an unknown spot near Newberg. Plein air is a French expression that means ‘in the open air' and refers to the ­practice of painters working outside rather than in studios or classrooms.

The technique is called “en plein air” (often shortened to just “plein air”), which is a French expression that means “in the open air.” It refers to the practice of painters working outside rather than in studios or classrooms.

Later this month, Art Elements will present an exhibit that features four painters who not only practice the plein air style, but who get together regularly to do so.

“The gang gets together about once a month in the spring and summertime to plein air paint all over the Willamette Valley,” said one of the painters, Romona Youngquist. “It’s always an adventure full of laughs, stories and shenanigans.”

The exhibit, titled simply and appropriately “Willa­mette Valley Plein Air,” will also feature Don Bishop, Brenda Boylan and Michael Orwick. According to a release from Art Elements Manager Lauren Wylie, who accompanied the four artists during a recent plein air outing at Stoller Vineyard in Dayton, the painters see themselves as honoring and following in the footsteps of the 19th century French impressionists who popularized the practice.

“Painting outdoors is the best way to learn and grow as an artist,” said Orwick, who paints in oil. “The constant change of light, wind and color challenges you to grasp a moment in an ever-changing environment.”

Self-taught and painting since the age of 4, Youngquist grew up amongst the vast landscapes and thunderous big skies and clouds of Oklahoma. Her work is characterized by stark contrasts between shadow and light often including weathered architecture, flowers, fields and country roads as subjects. According to gallery owner and art consultant Loni Parrish, Youngquist also has a soft spot for animals and is known for her affectionate and easygoing personality.

“We are honored to be one of the few galleries carrying Romona,” Parrish said. “We love having her live five miles from the gallery. She’s a quick call away for clients that want to meet the artist behind the breathtaking paintings. When they meet her, they are always astounded that such grand masterpieces came out of this cute petite woman.”

Orwick started his career as an animator in the Will Vinton claymation studios and quickly moved to illustration. His signature style, dubbed “inspired expressionism,” is evident in his work, intended to leave viewers feeling “reminiscent of something familiar and wanting.”

He has painted scenes across the Pacific Northwest, like the Ore­gon coast and Mount Hood. He also frequently holds workshops and classes, and prefers to paint and teach en plein air. See michaelorwick.com for more information on his work and upcoming classes.

Parrish described Bishop, a northern California native, as a “quieter soul,” whose “grandiose landscapes reflect his demeanor.”

“There is something so peaceful about Don’s work,” she said. “They are very reflective, meditative pieces.”

Boylan is a native Ore­gon­ian and the newest addition to Art Elements’ roster of artists. She is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America and the Northwest Pastel Society and has been published in several fine art magazines.

“She is always laughing and seeing bright side of every occasion, (and) we see that in her paintings,” Parrish said. “Her pieces bring you joy, peace and highlight details that one wouldn’t normally see.”

The exhibit will kick off with an artists’ reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 29 at the gallery. The show runs through Sept. 21. For more information on the exhibit, the artists or the gallery, visit www.artelementsgallery.com.