Whether you are a seasoned art collector or thinking about becoming one, this week in Annapolis offers a fantastic opportunity to acquire a piece that you love and to be a part of the story behind it. Maryland Federation of Art’s Paint Annapolis, the region’s first plein air competition of the year, brings top-notch international professionals to our streets selected for their skill to compete for prestigious awards and sell the work they create throughout the week. This group of artists includes some local painters that we in the Annapolis arts community know and love, yet again affirming the strength and sophistication of our arts base.

Here’s why I feel strongly that Paint Annapolis is an art collector’s dream: The work is affordable, running anywhere from $200 to $3,000, and you get to not only meet the artist, but also to watch her or him create the painting you will take home. Incidentally, it is no hardship to be out and about in the casual environment of our beautiful town to watch it all take place, and to interact with these artists who paint for a living.

Tips for novice art collectors

If, as an art collector, you are just dipping your toe into the water so to speak, Paint Annapolis provides a good time to get both feet wet. Buying art and building a collection should be fun, so here are a few tips to take the anxiety out of it:

  • Remember: Starting a collection doesn’t require a degree in fine art or art history or an excessive layout of funds. It simply involves buying any piece of original art you love.
  • Concerned that you can’t determine a good painting from a bad one? Rest assured that artists in these competitions meet all the criteria to qualify as creators of good art.
  • Is it an investment? Yes. But unless you are spending $50,000 or more, I don’t advise buying with the idea of selling. While the painting may increase in value over time, adding art to your personal collection is more gratifying when it is an emotional decision rather than an economic one. If you buy it because you love it, you will never regret it. My first original art purchase was over 25 years ago at the Sidewalk Art Festival in Portland, Maine. It is a painting of a spot on the Maine coast where I was living, and the artist was engaging. I don’t remember what I paid for it; I only know that I still love it. I’m looking at it right now.
  • An artwork becomes even more valuable to you when it comes with an experience and a story to share, which is what happens during plein air events like Paint Annapolis.

So you’ve walked around Paint Annapolis with your ice cream cone and you found an artist whose style knocks you out. You’ve chatted while the artwork developed and you’re ready to buy! You can declare the painting yours while it is still on the easel, and make the purchase through the Circle Gallery. The artist may have to hang on to it through the end of the week however, because they are all vying for prestigious awards at a reception at Circle Gallery on June 4. How cool that your new painting is a potential award winner! All of the work will be on display at Circle Gallery and MFA’s Summer Annex on Maryland Avenue through June 12, 2016.

Schedule of events

What makes this plein air event so exciting for the community is its multi-faceted nature with three competitions open to any plein air artist. Heads up, collectors: this is an opportunity to see your local favorites in action.

  1. The Nocturne paint out begins at sundown, Tuesday, May 31. Artists will be painting along Main Street and the first block of West Street. Head into town and have dinner at your favorite restaurant, sit near the window – or better yet, outside – and watch the artists paint.
  1. The second public competition is new this year, and takes place at Historic London Town in Edgewater from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, June 1.
  1. The popular Dueling Brushes two-hour, quick-draw event coincides this year with the First Sunday Arts Festival on the first block of historic West Street from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday, June 5. So many reasons to venture out on Sunday! After the awards, the work from this competition will be on display at 49 West Coffeehouse, Winebar and Art Gallery throughout the month of June.

Bring your camera, and ask your artist if you can take a picture of the work in progress. You’ll have a visual of the story behind your new treasure!

For a detailed schedule, visit the MFA website.

Cover image courtesy of Maryland Federation of Art.