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Lunenburg gets brighter with Paint Sea on Site


Over 70 painters descend to paint the town for 19th annual festival

Between her sunhat, umbrellas and Lunenburg’s colourful streetscape, artist Janet Clattenburg says she was well equipped to paint through the blistering sun.

She set herself up near the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic for her first ever Paint Sea on Site – the Lunenburg Art Society’s 19th annual plein air painting festival – and, around noon, completed her rendition of its ox-blood walls.

“I don’t normally paint plein air but it’s been fun,” said the Port Medway painter, donning plastic gloves to start her next piece.

And Clattenburg was just one of over 70 painters who set up their easels along the town’s streets and wharves for what artists described as a visual extravaganza.

The event took place on July 20 and 21.

Painter Jan Shilletto set up along the Zwicker Wharf, aiming to capture Lunenburg’s colourful waterfront. - Josh Healey
Painter Jan Shilletto set up along the Zwicker Wharf, aiming to capture Lunenburg’s colourful waterfront. - Josh Healey

Heather Drysdale, who is both a festival coordinator and an artist, said participants are continually drawn by the town’s beauty.

“You can’t turn a corner without finding something beautiful to paint,” she said.

But the weekend wasn’t without some obstacles as artists and volunteers struggled to stay cool amidst a provincial heat wave; a weather warning was issued for much of Nova Scotia.

“It’s a challenge but that’s plein air,” said Drysdale. “It’s about being in the open, experiencing the open and working with the bugs.”

Painter Jan Shilletto set up along the Zwicker Wharf, aiming to capture Lunenburg’s colourful waterfront. - Josh Healey
Painter Jan Shilletto set up along the Zwicker Wharf, aiming to capture Lunenburg’s colourful waterfront. - Josh Healey

The artists were also assisted by nearly 100 volunteers who went around collecting completed pieces and hauling them to the Lunenburg Community Centre.

Once at the centre, the paintings were put up for display with silent auctions starting each afternoon.

Lunenburg Art Society president Jan Hull said the proceeds from the auction were split 50/50 between the artists and society.

- Josh Healey
- Josh Healey

“While it’s an artist event, it is also a major fundraiser for the Lunenburg Art Society,” she explained.

And it’s an event that people are happy to take part in.

Traditionally, said Hull, artists are used to being cooped up in their studio with all of their gear but the festival is an opportunity to get and connect.

The festival is also a chance to celebrate creativity.

“Sometimes when the world is a cranky place, this is a (venue) where we celebrate beauty and effort,” said Hull.

“This small town of 2,500 has supported that for a long time. I am impressed by it and delighted to be involved with the organization that puts it on.”

@joshrjhealey / joshua.rj.healey@gmail.com

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