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Saranac Lake hosts Plein Air Fest

SARANAC LAKE - Dozens of artists from across the Northeast will flock to Saranac Lake next week, becoming a part of the very scenery they'll be painting.

It's all part of Saranac Lake's Adirondack Plein Air Festival Aug. 19-22.

Plein Air is a Frech term that literally means "out in the open air." For artists, it means working outdoors, on location, instead of in their studios. Paintings, which could be done in oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, or even photography, are usually finished in one sitting.

"The whole idea is to experience the location and record it spontaneously," explained festival organizer Sandra Hildreth. "Everything they've learned as art students, from books, from colleagues and mentors, and from past experiences becomes very important as time is limited."

Time is not the only concern, as artists must also deal with changes in the landscape itself as the wind blows, sunlight and shadows shift, and reflections and ripples occur along the water.

Participating artists will pick up their free 5-by-7-foot canvas the morning of Aug. 19 and set up their easels anywhere they choose in the village of Saranac Lake. Spectators are encouraged to come and watch the artists at work.

Each artist will be asked to donate one 5-by-7 piece for a silent auction, which begins 4 p.m. in the Adirondack Artists' Guild gallery at 52 Main St. The auction will benefit the children's programs and artist residencies at BluSeed Studios, a nonprofit arts facility in Saranac Lake.

Later that afternoon, the Third Thursday Art Walk is scheduled from 5 to 7:30 p.m., so spectators will have a full slate of art events to view Aug. 19.

On Friday, Aug. 20, and Saturday, Aug. 21, the Plein Air artists will be free to paint at a number of locations determined by event organizers, including sites within the village as well as some scenic locations with mountain, river, and other landscape views. The list of locations will be made available to the public so they can watch the artists at work.

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