Holland’s Tracy Everly may reside only a half-mile away from her childhood home, but the neighborhood still holds an indescribable charm.
An artist of more than 20 years, Everly rarely strays far to find inspiration. In her opinion, there’s simply no need to. Spots in Bucks County, including Tyler State Park, Tamanend Park and her own backyard, are some of the most breathtaking places to behold.
On Oct. 1-6, Everly will share her passion for local beauty as a second-year participant in the fourth annual Bucks County Plein Air Festival.
Hosted by Bucks County Community College, in partnership with award-winning artist Alan Fetterman (Arts & Cultural Council of Bucks County) and the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by Penn Color, the festival features 30 artists from across the U.S. who have been competitively selected to create art “en plein air,” or “in open air,” throughout picturesque locations in the area.
“I love Bucks County. This is home. Part of the reason I’m participating is because this is my way of helping to support and promote the arts in my own community, which I think is really important,” Everly said. “It’s a fun way for people to get access to seeing people painting and what their process is. I’m all for anything that can get people interacting with art.”
From Oct. 1-4 in Newtown, Lahasha, Doylestown and New Hope, the public can watch artists paint “en plein air,” with ample opportunities to ask questions. Last year, Everly chatted with curious art lovers about everything from her palette and tools of choice, to the scene she was creating.
“I think it’s fascinating to see what other people see. That’s the great thing. Every artist is so different and we all bring our own perspective,” she said. “You can line up 10 artists and they’ll be painting 10 very different things.”
For Everly, painting from direct observation, rather than from a photograph, is an unmatched experience.
“I have to feel excited about what I’m looking at and really engaged with it, and I just don’t get that from a photograph. What I see with my eyes is different. It encompasses more of your senses. You’re standing in a place, you’re hearing things, you’re seeing things, you’re feeling things,” she said. “I never know exactly what I want to paint until I’m there. I tend to walk around. Sometimes I paint things multiple times until I find the composition that I like. Working with photographs doesn’t really allow me to do that.”
While Everly primary paints flowers, which she said have a special delicacy to them, she’s open to depict other objects on her canvas.
“I’m really attracted to things that I think are beautiful. That can be anything. It can be a jar. It can be something that’s a certain color,” she said. “When I’m painting, I’m looking for something that gives me that feeling of excitement and joy.”
The work of Everly and the other Plein Air Festival artists will be judged by Joe Gyurcsak, a New Jersey-based award-winning artist who exhibits and lectures across the country; and Valerie Craig, who is known for her expressive brushwork and has been judging competitions nationally and internationally for more than 20 years. At stake is more than $15,000 in prizes.
Additionally, all artwork created during the festival will be on display and available for purchase. On Saturday, Oct. 5, a VIP Collectors’ Preview & Presale Reception will take place in Tyler Hall at Bucks County Community College’s Newtown campus, 275 Swamp Road. The ticketed event is set to include an awards ceremony emceed by Paul Bencivengo, president and COO of Visit Bucks County.
This will be followed by a free festival on Sunday, Oct. 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., also at the Newtown campus, with quick-draw competitions, live music, entertainment, sculpture tours and an art exhibit and sale.
Proceeds from the Plein Air Festival will sustain future festivals, along with benefiting the college’s arts programs, and the Central Bucks Chamber’s signature program, Bucks Fever, which supports the arts through business.
The festival was first proposed by Fetterman, a BCCC graduate who is well-known for producing paintings in the Bucks County impressionist and plein air traditions, to celebrate the rich history of local artistic expression.
“Bucks County is nothing shy of amazing,” Fetterman said. “With more than 50 years of calling Bucks County my home, building this wonderful festival with the partnerships of the college, the Arts & Cultural Council of Bucks County, and the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce is an honor.” ••
For more information about the Bucks County Plein Air Festival and a full schedule of events, visit buckscountypleinair.com. For more on Everly, who currently has work on display at Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell, New Jersey, visit facebook.com/tracyeverlyart.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org