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Plein Air 'Quick Draw' in the Plaza Today

Plein air artists from throughout Sonoma county and beyond meet today for a 'paint-off' before the Tuesday Farmer's Market

If you think going mano a mano in a 'quick draw' contest is only for gunslingers and mixed martial arts practitioners, think again.

This afternoon the Sonoma Plaza will witness the annual Quick Draw contest between local Plein Air artists, who have an hour and a half to paint and mount a scene. It's the preview public event in the annual Sonoma Plein Air (SPA) fair, a weeklong event celebrating the century-old technique of outdoor painting.

The SPA is a juried event that brings nationally recognized plein air artists to the area for a week of painting the inspiring landscapes of Sonoma Valley. Plein air is a French phrase that translates simply as "open air," describing painting done outdoors, on location.

"This is the first opportunity for the public to meet the artists, watch them paint and purchase one of their paintings," according to event organizers.

By 6:30, as the Tuesday Farmer's Market gets underway, all artists gathered with their completed paintings will be across from Charles Creek Tasting Room where the final viewing and buying begins.

Midday in the Plaza found Paul Youngman of Calistoga warming up with a small canvas of trees, lawn, and light. "There are artists all over the county right now," he said. "I could be out there in the heat, but I thought, I'm not young anymore, I'm going to find someplace in the shade."

Youngman is one of almost 40 plein air artists participating in this year's event. Other local artists include Keith Wicks and Dick Cole of Sonoma, Clark Mitchell of Cotati, and Denis Ziemienski of Glen Ellen. Other artists come from as far away as Wisconsin, Tennesee and North Carolina.

Other key events include a Gala Dinner and Auction (sold out) on Friday, Oct. 5, and an Art Exhibition and Sale on Saturday in the Plaza from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Art created during the week is exhibited and offered for sale.

There will be free art classes for children starting at 10, art demonstrations in oil, watercolor and pastel beginning at 11, and live music throughout the day. Representatives from Fine Line Art Supply will be available to answer your art materials questions. Admission is free.

Sonoma Plein Air raises funds to support art education programs for children in Sonoma Valley. The Sonoma Plein Air Festival has raised over $550,000 for these causes.

The Sonoma Plein Air Foundation, a non-profit all volunteer organization, presents this annual event that is designed to be casual, interactive and educational. More information on the Sonoma Plein Air events can be found on their website.

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