Annual plein air event with in-person kickoff

South Bay Arts Association upholds centuries-old artistic tradition


Plein air painting is about creating “outside” the box and going beyond the artifice of a studio to experience painting and drawing in a landscape setting. This change of milieu opens one’s mind to mirror the spontaneity of the natural world. It’s a tradition which harkens back centuries, but is most synonymous with the French Impressionists, who aspired to capture the ephemeral interplay of light and shadow in its ever-changing forms. The French called this practice “en plein air,” which simply means “in the open air.”

In this vein, The South Bay Art Association is hosting its second annual Plein Air Event, in cooperation with the Bellport Chamber of Commerce. This year, SBAA had an in-person kickoff event on Saturday, July 16, at the Bellport Village Marina, where about 25 artists registered and received instructions for this year’s event, as well as getting to take home a complimentary gift bag with art supplies donated from Blick Art Materials. The artists will have from July 16 through July 28 to create pieces. South Bay has also expanded the area artists can go to this year. The plein air committee decided to extend the area eligible for use as inspiration to the entirety of Bellport Village, East Patchogue, and Brookhaven hamlet.

“This will allow for a variety of art to be created,” said committee chair Claudia Mirzaali. “There are so many beautiful places to explore in the area; we didn’t want to confine the artists to just one place.”

The completed landscape artwork will be judged and exhibited at Bellport Day on Saturday, July 30. The judges include local artists, curators, chamber members, and an art historian. The esteemed panel will select the artwork for first, second, third place and honorable mention, where prizes donated by local businesses will be awarded.

SBAA president Krystle DiNicola has been a member of the organization, which originated in 1956, since 2012, and has been president since 2015. She hopes that some people who participate in this event will decide to become members.

“We are just always looking for new ways to bring arts to the community,” she said. “Next Sunday, we’re having our membership meeting here outdoors, and to coincide with the plein air event, to try to encourage our members and any of the plein air artists to create here.”

The membership and participants work in a wide array of artistic mediums, including oil paint, watercolor, colored pencils, acrylics, and mixed media. Plein air encompasses all visual mediums except for sculpture and photography. It’s permissible, as long as it’s 2-D and not 3-D.

“Photography is not plein air; you have to be open and spontaneous,” explained Mirzaali. “Plein air is spontaneous, as opposed to a studio. In studio painting, sometimes you have a preconceived idea of what the artwork is going to look like.”

Next Sunday, July 24, SBA will also be hosting a Paint and Greet at the Bellport Village Marina after the general meeting. Bring your art supplies for a fresh-air perspective on your unique artistic expression, in a supportive and expansive artistic community. Go to for more information.


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