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'Come out and discover what is there'

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Members of the Plein Air Group painting at Palm Grove in Devonshire.

Interior designer Michele Smith always wanted to paint, but the more pressing demands of family and career got in the way.A year ago, with her children off to college and the support of local arts collective the Plein Air Group, her opportunity finally came.Now some of Mrs Smith’s work is on display in the Plein Air Group show on at the Dockyard Arts Centre.Plein Air is French for ‘in the open air’, and that’s exactly what Bermuda’s Plein Air group does. They meet for two hours every Sunday morning, at a different location around the Island.Their objective is to introduce painters, at all levels of expertise, to the joys and tribulations of working on location.There is a variety of mediums in the group, from oil, watercolour, acrylic, pencil, pastels and mixed media for those who like to mix it up.“I think the first session I took part in was at my house,” said Mrs Smith. “I invited them over. They select a different location to paint at every week.“Last week we painted at Palm Grove in Devonshire. We have also painted at Spittal Pond in Smith’s, and at many other places.“The group is comprised of people of different ages and abilities. Some group members are professional artists such as Sheilagh Head, Chris Marson, Rhona Emmerson and Jonah Jones.”The more experienced artists try to mentor the less experienced artists, giving them critiques and tips.Mrs Smith said she found this aspect of the group very encouraging. She started off painting in watercolours, but now paints in oil. She has literally been emboldened by the group.“I am more bold in my colours,” she said. “Since I have been doing this I have been much more free in my hand. Quite frankly, I really like painting outdoors.“I think you can either be a studio painter or an outdoors painter. I find I paint much more outside. I will sometimes take it back to my house and touch it up and elaborate.“Bermuda is such a wonderful landscape there is always something you find to paint. In the group, some people will just paint a small detail and some people will paint an overall scene.“Some people paint in miniature and some people draw. It is a wonderful way to see Bermuda and places you would never get to.”She urged other people interested in art outdoors to join the group, no matter what their ability level.“Bermuda has so many talented artists,” she said, “and I am sure there are many more out there who are undiscovered. Come out and discover what is there.”The group was started nine years ago by artists Mr Jones and Mr Marson.The two enjoyed getting together and painting in their gardens. They decided to expand the group to others who were interested in art outdoors.This is the ninth show that the group has held at the Dockyard Arts Centre.It showcases work from the year’s locations, framed and ready to find happy homes or offices.New members are welcome and are encouraged to sign up at the show, which runs until October 20. The Arts Centre at Dockyard is open every day 10am to 5pm.

Artwork on display in the Plein Air Show on now at the Arts Centre in Dockyard.
Artwork by Heidi Cowen to be featured in a Plein Air Group art show on now at the Arts Centre in Dockyard.
Artwork by Rhona Emmerson to be featured in the Plein Air Group art show on now at the Arts Centre in Dockyard.
A St George scene on display in the Plein Air show on exhibit now at the Arts Centre in Dockyard.
Work by Michele Smith.