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Guerilla Painting Comes to the Presidio


Presidio of San Francisco (March 23, 2009) — As part of the California Watercolor Association’s 40th Annual National Exhibition, the Presidio will host two plein air “paint outs,” the first of which takes place Saturday, April 4 beginning at 10 am at the Presidio Officers’ Club.

Simply put, plein air is painting outdoors – ”an artist packing up his or her easels, brushes and other equipment and trekking out to a scenic spot and braving the elements to paint. It is a test of skill and fortitude sometimes referred to as “guerilla painting.” Still many artists prefer it to studio painting.

“It’s painting what you see without the filter of a camera,” explains Marilyn Miller, a vice-president of the California Watercolor Association and co-director of the 40th National Exhibition. “Subtle nuances of color are more readily apparent and there is an added dimension in the subject, giving the work more depth and richness. Because the light can change suddenly, there is also a sense of urgency for the artist. They’re forced to stay in the moment and not overwork or over think the painting.”

The paint outs also offer the public a unique opportunity to see art as it’s being created. Each artist will have four hours to select a subject and paint any scene visible from the grounds of the Presidio using any style or medium. The participating artists themselves will also act as jurors and select the winners (though they’re not allowed to vote for themselves). Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place as well as a people’s choice award selected by the public.

This year’s plein air paint outs will be held Saturday April 4 and Saturday May 2 from 10 am to 3 pm. Registration is available at the Officers’ Club the day of the event, or in advance by going to  The finished works will be displayed in the Mesa Room at the Presidio Officers’ Club, 50 Moraga Avenue in San Francisco beginning at 3 pm.

Nearly 100 stunning landscapes, portraits and other works from the watercolor association’s national competition are currently on display in Water+Color: California Watercolor Association’s 40th Annual National Exhibition. The free-exhibit runs through May 24 at the Officers’ Club. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.

The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to oversee the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre site contains expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. It also comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District. “

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