The lure of the North Umpqua River and other scenic parts of the Umpqua Valley drew dozens of artists from around Oregon and beyond to the area this week.

The artists spend four days painting landscapes in the Umpqua Valley Arts Association’s annual Umpqua Plein Air competition. The artists go out to scenic locations to paint their favorite scenes.

Plein air painting is painting the light and colors as they’re changing and UVAA Gallery Director Sandee McGee said the artists are painting from life, so they are actually looking at what they’re painting.

“It’s really a very challenging style of art making because everything is changing in the outdoors all the time,” McGee said. “The painters are out there are really doing what they call chasing the light.”

It was a foggy morning in Glide on Thursday, but that was just fine with well-known local artist Susan Rudisill, who lives in Idleyld Park.

“I love the fog. I was going to paint when the fog was just rising from the river, but the places I had in mind, it had already lifted,” Rudisill said. “But I like painting around Swiftwater, Rock Creek and Deadline Falls, because it’s all pretty dramatic scenery.”

James Syfert came down Interstate 5 from Beaverton to see relatives and visit a winery. He competed once before and wanted to come back.

“It’s a beautiful area,” Syfert said. “And this is about a fifth career in my working life, it’s just one of those things I enjoy doing and I like to learn.”

Linda Evans of Brookings was back for her third year. She said the event was planned out well and the hospitality and food were great.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and I thought it was a great, great event,” Evans said. “I noticed there were some new locations that they hadn’t done before, however, I’ve gotten lost three times. I’m just in this circle of beautiful nature.”

Terry Stanley of Santa Ana, California, was visiting her mother near Glide.

“You just get so much more when you’re painting outdoors, I really enjoy it,” Stanley said. “This is quite fun, and I’m glad the opportunity came about at the right time.”

Martha Waardenburg of Glide paints with her faithful dog Daisy at her side. She had been coming to the event from Klamath Falls for the last six years to paint and liked it so much she moved there.

“We fell in love with the place. I love it,” Waardenburg said. “(Plein air) is a challenge. I hope I get better every year.”

The event is a competition and the oil paintings will be judged by jurist Thomas Jefferson Kitts from Portland. Each person participating is allowed to enter at least one painting into the competition, but no more than three.

“Most people can do two or three paintings in a day because the light changes,” Rudisill said. “So a morning painting, an afternoon painting and late afternoon-early evening because the light is so beautiful then.”

McGee said 63 artists are registered this year, which she said is a bump in registration from past years. The artists gather at suggested locations and disperse from there, although they can paint anywhere within 50 miles of the art center. The first day, they were in Umpqua and the second day was on the North Umpqua River. Friday, the painters moved to Doc Bailey’s Century Farm in Garden Valley just west of Roseburg.

“On Saturday, we’re going to see a lot of different scenes from the landscapes that are here,” McGee said. “We really want people to be introduced to the beauty that is the land of the Umpqua and also reintroduce the community to this lovely place we live in.”

“It’s become so popular we’ve got people coming from all over of Oregon, we’ve got one person from California,” McGee said.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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