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Hicksville Voices

A Plein Air Coffee Chat Among Friends

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with personal friend and Hicksville  artist, Kirk Larsen. Kirk recently returned from a two week Plein Air art competition in Easton, Maryland. The event is the largest and most prestigious juried Plein Air painting competition in the United States. Hundreds of artists apply, but only 50 are chosen internationally; another eight artists from Maryland are chosen, with a total of 58 artists competing over a two week period.

In 13 days, Kirk managed to eke out 20 paintings, 10 of which sold. His positive attitude allowed him to meet the challenges of little sleep and brutally hot temperatures with style and grace. He also had a few interesting stories to share as we sat down to coffee on his front porch.

On the second day of the competition, which ran from July 12 – 20, the artists were requested to paint at Tilghman Island, a rustic town that’s home to generations of watermen. The competitors were asked to find their own subjects. Kirk scouted the area in search of the perfect light, subject material, and coloring. Off in a distance, he had seen a father and son who were engaged in catching crabs with chicken necks. Setting up his easel, Kirk managed to capture the pair as they leaned across the side of the dock in pursuit of their quarry. The painting, which was warm and wistful, piqued quite a bit of interest from buyers and artists alike. The family appeared with only a third of the asking price, all that they could afford. When the dilemma was overheard by a woman within earshot, she stated that the artwork belonged with the pair, and donations began to pour in. Before the end of Plein Air, the entire amount had been raised and the painting had been given to the proud family.

It just goes to show you that when something is truly meant for you, it happens, one way or another.

Another wonderful tale that Kirk shared with me was when he painted a boat, which was entered as his second competition piece. The boat had been a part of the family for many years and had been named after the mom. The vessel had been an important part of family life; however, it was slated to be sold the following week. Having seen the finished product, the family requested the painting, but because of the regulations of the competition, no purchases could be done ahead of time. As Kirk told it, buyers entered the competition area at 7 pm; after much protecting, the family arrived with the asking price and purchased the artwork at 7:02 p.m. I could see by the look in his eyes that he was pretty happy that the artwork ended up exactly where it was meant.

I’m so happy that my friend was able to have a wonderful experience with Plein Air Easton, and I wish him all the best, as he tackles new adventures and produces beautiful works of art. Well done, Kirk — keep up the great work!