Color Columbia Plein Air Paint Out brings artists outside for second year

July 19, 2018

Father and daughter at Wilde Lake Park


By Tripp Laino

Take a stroll around Lake Kittamaqundi or Wilde Lake Park and you’re bound to find all sorts of recreational activities — fishing, boating, or even just folks out for a stroll — all while enjoying wildlife, nature and serene views at two of Columbia’s signature lakes.

But on Saturday, September 8 from 8:30am-5:30pm, what you’ll find is about 50 artists setting up their easels and painting as part of the second Color Columbia Plein Air Paint Out.

Visitors are invited to tour the painting sites at both lakes and watch along as the artists create and complete their works. As a new addition this year, several students from Howard County public schools will be participating in the event.

“Painting outside is totally invaluable to an artist — you learn so much more about being able to accurately and emotionally convey a sense of the physical world than you ever will looking at photographs,” said Deborah Maklowski, a participant at last year’s event. “You can take that learning back to the studio, and it will inform your work for the rest of your career.”

Maklowski teaches colored pencil classes at Columbia Art Center and has been painting outside since 2003. She’s participated in several plein air events nearby in Ellicott City, as well as in Cumberland and Chestertown.

“Artists do it because it’s fun, but there’s definitely a very strong educational and experiential benefit to being outdoors and seeing, looking, planning and evaluating — all of those things — before you even start to paint,” she said.

Maklowski is also drawn in — no pun intended — by the social aspect of plein air events, bringing together artists on a single day to paint outside. While they could paint outside on any nice day, bringing them out at the same time helps foster a sense of community.

“You’re out there with your friends,” she said. “CA did a great job last year with water stations and little gift bags. It’s just a fun day for everybody.”

Maklowski said that the event provides great exposure for artists — but more important to her is that it exposes more people to art and the process of creating. People stopped by and chatted with her, asking questions about the painting she was working on, or art in general.

“It has the potential to increase your exposure and your sales, but for me the main draw is that it gives us an opportunity to demystify the art-making process,” she said. “People think this is so beyond what they can do, but then they can watch someone sit and create. You can answer questions and make people feel comfortable with art as opposed to feeling intimidated by it.”

Site maps will be available at the welcome booth at Lake Kittamaqundi, which closes at 5pm. Additional family friendly art activities will be held throughout the day at Lake Kittamaqundi near the People Tree. The works will be judged and then exhibited at Columbia Art Center’s Main Gallery (6100 Foreland Garth in the Long Reach Village Center) from September 15-30.

Artists interested in participating should email or for more information and an entry form. For more information, please visit, email or call 410-730-0075.

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