Winter Park Paint Out promises to capture beauty of local area

Artists from throughout the state will flock to Winter Park for the 10th annual Winter Park Paint Out.

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  • | 3:14 p.m. April 13, 2018
Irina Aschcraft prefers to paint nature rather than urban areas.
Irina Aschcraft prefers to paint nature rather than urban areas.
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Capturing a fleeting moment. Immortalizing a piece of a community. That’s just a small glimpse into the heart of the Winter Park Paint Out, which will take place the last full week of April from Sunday, April 22, through Saturday, April 28, at the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden and various locations throughout Winter Park and Orlando.

The renowned event, celebrating its 10th anniversary, gives local residents and art-lovers alike a chance to see a masterpiece created before their eyes. A collection of 25 plein air painters from throughout Florida will take their easels into the community to find architecture, nature or any piece of the Winter Park that appeals to them and recreate it on a canvas.

“We’re now into a decade of celebrating art in action at Winter Park,” Polasek Museum Executive Director Debbie Komanski said. “We began this 10 years ago, and when we began it, we knew we’re inviting the best of the best to come be part of it. With our 10th anniversary, we are inviting back once again the best of the best. Nothing could make us happier. We couldn’t be more thrilled at the brilliance of these artists.”

In addition to the adventure and creative exploration the artists will undertake, there will be several scheduled demonstrations throughout the week. These include everything from how to paint the perfect palm tree to capturing urban beauty by painting the Orlando skyline.

There is also a Sun-set “Paint-In” from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at the Win-ter Park Rac-quet Club on Lake Mait-land, where Paint Out artists will gather on the shore and capture a beautiful Florida sunset.

To top it all off, all the artwork from the Paint Out will be available for sale, and proceeds will be benefiting the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden.

It’s been amazing to see the Winter Paint Out thrive over the years, said Komanski, who remembers dreaming up the concept with trustee emeritus Gary Hollingsworth while driving through the Czech Republic more than a decade ago. She returned home to make the event a reality with the help of artist and organizer Hal Stringer.

Komanski realized that day there was a city waiting for them back home that lent itself perfectly to a paint out: Winter Park, with its beautiful lakes and landscapes and charming architecture. 

“Capturing the beauty of where you live … turn around, look around, this is our home,” Komanski said. “My background is history, nothing moves me more than seeing our reality through the eyes of artists capturing our history right here, right now.”


Painting professionally for 20 years, Stacy Barter always looks forward to the annual Winter Park Paint Out.

“It’s a wonderful event,” Barter said. “I love the fact that we’re raising money for the Polasek, which is really one of our best museums and landmarks here in Winter Park. It’s wonderful way to give back to the community and have a lot of fun in the meantime.”

Barter will be giving a demonstration at 1 p.m. Monday, April 23, titled, “A Fine Art Prospect on Lake Virginia,” where she will create an elegant composition from the Rollins College campus, behind the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. All visitors and especially college-age art students are encouraged to attend the demo, which will celebrate the beauty of the community and introduce attendees to the plein-air genre.

“The excitement and difficulty of it is you only have a couple of hours to capture something and the light is constantly moving and changing,” Barter said. “It’s just a very exciting way to work and a wonderful process.”


Matthew Cornell may not consider himself predominantly a plein-air painter, but that didn’t stop the Winter Park Paint Out from inviting him back for another year to show his skill.

The local painter has about 30 years of experience. Most of his work happens in the studio, where he will use photographs to create his work, but he does periodically step outside with his paints.

Among his favorite things to paint though — whether it’s sitting outside or using a reference photo — are buildings and homes at night, he said.

“I’ve always found the twilight and the nighttime to be kind of interesting, especially here in Orlando with the oak trees at night — it has a mysterious quality,” Cornell said. “I’ve always been attracted to that.”

He has done several night paintings in the past during the Winter Park Paint Out.

“The event has a tremendous amount of support from the community,” Cornell said. “It’s an extraordinarily well-run event by extraordinary people, and I’m absolutely grateful every year to be a part of it.”

If Irina Ashcraft isn’t teaching art at Trinity Preparatory School, you might just spot her somewhere with her easel doing plein-air painting. 

She has been familiar with the style since she was 10 years old, when she took art classes in Latvia.

“I try to paint wherever I can,” Ashcraft said. “I’m a rural girl, so I definitely enjoy nature versus urban landscape. That’s more relatable to me, even though occasionally I love painting vignettes on Park Avenue.”

She loves the Winter Park Paint Out because of the quality of artists it draws, Ashcraft said.

“It draws very good quality artists,” she said. “It’s definitely an event that every artist is honored to participate in. It’s great to be in this group of artists that are quite accomplished.”

She also loves that the event provides the community demonstrations so that the public can learn from the artists.

“It’s like a big community party all week long,” Ashcraft said.



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