Sunday, January 16, 2022

Out there in plein air

Artist Phyllis Pransky on Tigertail Beach. Submitted

Artist Phyllis Pransky on Tigertail Beach. Submitted

By Tara O’Neill

All writers dream of the day when a dilly of a story will just fall into their laps. Or, in my case, smack them in the head. Either way, the recent realization of that dream has me all fired up.

There I was, at desk, struggling to turn a list of calendar events into prose. And it hit me. No, really, I dropped my head (a little too hard) onto a pile of freshly-printed e-mails and the top one actually stuck. I peeled it off my forehead, replaced it with a bag of ice, and minutes later replaced my Calendar ‘story.’ You see, an exhibition of Marco’s Outdoor Artists group is scheduled at the Art League and I was going to include it in my Island-wide Arts Calendar, but once I read artist Phyllis Pransky’s informative letter, it was obviously time to yank this tree right out of the forest. Right out in plein air.

Phyllis came here from New jersey the summer of 1990, she joined Marco’s Art League, and Naple’s Art League, but, by her own admission, “was so needy of company to go out and paint en plein air,” (elegant French phrase translating loosely to “outside.”) that she gathered together with local artists Bob Nelson, Marilyn Wirth, Shirley Piercy, Jo-Ann Sanborn, and Charlie Horn and presented a mission statement. “We were going to document our richly beautiful area in paint…and so our history began.
“I formed the schedule monthly then, now I make the schedule for every Wednesday of the year. Because we were so passionate about our mission and never missed a Wednesday, Shirley Piercy gave our Wednesdays new meaning by coining the phrase ‘Oh Holy Wednesdays.’” The schedules can be found on the Art League’s website as well as on Phyllis’s (listed below).

This organization is a free community service. There are no rules other than to respect the concentration of other artists and

Vincent Coppola on Dock, more painters can be seen in the background. Submitted

Vincent Coppola on Dock, more painters can be seen in the background. Submitted

to keep the location clean. No time constraints – unless mentioned in the schedule – artists usually arrive around 9 and leave when they want, sometimes lunch time, sometimes sunset. They join in a brown bag lunch and critique the last Wednesday of every month (as stated in the schedule). Declares Phyllis, “It is a fabulous experience and we always learn from one another.”
Starting with so few, the Outdoor Artists now have a roster of over 200 participants. Some artists are beginners, some have been creating for years, and still others are accomplished professionals. There are all mediums being practiced, watercolor, oil, acrylic, charcoal, pencil, crayons, photographers, sculptors/carvers…even the occasional poet! Non-artists are welcome to observe, so long as they, too, respect the artists’ concentration.

The Marco Island Art League sponsors the group and now Honors it with a show of their work from over the years. Opening reception for the Outdoor Artists’ exhibit is Tuesday, December 7th, and the show runs until December 28. Contact the Art League for reception times as they are still scheduling some very special events for the big event. Or you can personally visit Phyllis at Waterfront Gallery, part of the Artist Colony at the Esplanade.

Does Phyllis have any standard advice for new members? “I do encourage labeling each painting or piece of art with place and date for history sake.” Well done, Phyllis Pransky. I will not miss this exhibit.

I’ll try to get that Calendar next time.

Phyllis Pransky:

Art League, Marco Island’s Center for the Arts: 1010 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island, 239.394.4221,

Artist Colony at the Esplanade: 740-760 N. Collier Blvd, Marco Island,

Tara O’Neill has been an area resident since 1967. She holds a Bachelors Degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida, Tampa, and currently has a studio-gallery at the Artist Colony at the Esplanade on Marco Island. She can be contacted through her web site

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