Plein air

Barbara Kern-Bush of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, paints the giant shark from Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum on the Boardwalk during the Paint OC Plein Air Event Quick Draw contest last year.

(July 31, 2020) The 15th annual Artists Paint OC: Plein Air Event will take place Aug. 12-16. 

Only a few spots are still open, as the event will be capped to 40 artists this year because of covid-19. 

Registration costs $50 for the whole event and $30 for the Quick Draw competition only. 

“The Plein Air Event is an annual event that happens every August,” said Elaine Bean, Art League of Ocean City Marketing and Communications director. “Usually we have 50 or so artists that come in from all around the area, even from across the bridge and the tri-state area, to participate.” 

Artists will spend Wednesday through Friday painting scenic views of Ocean City and Worcester County, whether that’s along the Boardwalk, bayside or beach. 

There are no specific categories, Bean said, and artists use a variety of medias, such as oil and acrylic paint, as well as pastels. 

After three days of painting, artists will take their work to an exhibition show on Saturday, where they will be judged and later sold to attendees. 

Typically, the exhibition is held indoors in the Ocean City Center for the Arts building on 94th Street, however, this year’s event will take place outdoors at the adjacent tennis courts from 5-8 p.m. Entry is free and open to the public. 

Cash prizes, totaling $5,000, are courtesy of the Peter Glenville Foundation, Worcester County Arts Council, Worcester County Tourism, Ocean City Development Corporation and private donations. 

Then, on Sunday, Aug. 16, the Quick Draw contest, sponsored by the development corporation, will be held on South Division Street and the Boardwalk from 9-11 a.m. 

At noon, artists will submit their work for judging and sale hosted once again at the 94th Street tennis courts. 

Some of the artwork will be displayed in the Center for the Arts through the end of August. 

The French phrase “en plein air” means “outside” or “out in the open.” With artists working outdoors and spread throughout the resort and county, the event is perfectly suited to accommodate covid-19 safety measures, Bean said. 

Additionally, the event is an art collector’s dream, as paintings are often sold at very moderate prices. 

“It’s really a great opportunity for people who are collectors of art, or even just beginning to collect art, to find a local masterpiece,” Bean said. “So many people that have condos or homes here would like to have a piece of art in their homes that really reflect the area.” 

To register, visit For more information, visit, call 410-524-9433 or on Facebook by searching Artists Paint OC: A Plein Air Event.

Josh covers everything Ocean City government and crime. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 2019 with a B.A. in French and Journalism.

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