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Stowe Park provides inspiration for Gaston County Art Guild members

Gaston Art Guild president Carol Stowe-Rankin working on her plein air creation in Stowe Park.

By Alan Hodge

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Last Wednesday morning was a cool one in downtown Belmont  made even cooler by a group of Gaston County Art Guild artists who made a visit to Stowe Park and proceeded to create beautiful paintings there in the plein air style.

But wait. What exactly is plein air art?  It’s a manner or style of painting developed chiefly in France in the mid-19th century, characterized  by the representation of the luminous effects of natural light and atmosphere as contrasted with the artificial light and absence of the sense of air or atmosphere associated with paintings produced in the studio. It’s a painting executed out of doors and representing a direct response to the scene or subject in front of the artist having the qualities of air and natural light.

The Stowe Park painters placed their easels in various locations throughout the park, grabbed brushes and paints, then proceeded to enjoy a creative and relaxing time with their fellow Gaston Art Guild members.

One of the participants, retired school art teacher Gloria Brinkman, described what it is she likes about plein air art and the Gaston County Art Guild.

“It’s wonderful to meet friends who share a passion for art,” she said. “Especially when it’s done outside.”

Fellow artist Connie Snipes agreed.

“It’s a great way to get your painting skills going,” she said. “Plein air art is about learning to see your subject in shadows and natural light.”

Nina Zullo joined the Gaston Art Guild last April at the urging of friend Brenda Boston and was on the Stowe Park scene.

“This is a great opportunity to get outside and get a better perspective of nature for painting,” said Zullo.

Former guild president Cam Tracy set up her ease at the corner of S. Main and Myrtle Ave.

“I love to paint outdoors and we  love Belmont,” she said.

The Stowe Park plein air outing was just one of the many activities that the Gaston County Art Guild offers members. For instance, the group also headed over to  the Schiele Museum Backcountry Farm area to paint rural scenes in the city.

“Gaston County has so many amenities to offer for plein air painting,”said guild president Carol Stowe-Rankin. “We also support local businesses by having lunch in our beautiful towns,”

Stowe-Rankin talked about some of the other activities the guild has lined up.

“Our fabulous program and workshops committee has come up with a year of exciting opportunities,” she said. “Our calendar is full of outstanding programs where you can meet new artists and try your hand at different ways of expressing yourself as an artist.”

The guild is a non-profit with  a long history. It’s been around been around since 1965 and is looking towards an even brighter future.

“We want to grow membership, provide quality workshops and venues fo shows, and work with other nonprofits, all in an effort to perpetuate cultural growth and share art with a growing number of people,” Stowe-Rankin said.

For more information on the Gaston County Art Guild, visit Guild headquarters are  located at  204. E. Franklin Blvd., Suite 215, Gastonia.