Taking It Outside with Linda Richichi

Arts & Culture

Pictured: Street Life, oil on canvas, by Linda Richichi. Photo courtesy of the artist.

This time last year, Linda Richichi was sitting outside in the pouring rain, painting on the corner of Main Street and Palm Avenue with two stolid compatriots at her side, each pitting pigment against precipitation. Sisyphean? Sure. A little mad? Perhaps. But the elements are an accepted hazard of plein air painting and Richichi, a Signature Member and Florida Ambassador for the International Plein Air Painters, wasn’t about to miss the organization’s annual Great Worldwide Paint Out—that one time a year when all similarly mad paint-slingers take their canvases outside and celebrate the plein air tradition together as a global whole. Still, as the 21st Great Worldwide Paint Out hits this Saturday at Bayfront Park, Richichi can’t help but hope for better weather and a bigger turnout.

Running from 9am to 11am this Saturday by Marina Jack’s, the rules to participate in the Great Worldwide Paint Out are pretty simple: there really aren’t any. A free and open community event, anyone and everyone with the urge to try their hand at a little plein air creation is invited to bring their easel down to Bayfront Park and join the artists for however long or little as they please. “No sign up; just show up,” says Richichi. And you don’t even have to paint. Doodle, sketch, draw in the dirt with a stick—just be sure to hang around for the group photo afterward. The only real rule is the unspoken rule of all such events: Don’t be a jerk.

Of course, even non-jerks might ask: Why paint outside in generally-unpredictable-but-predictably-too-hot Florida weather, when we’ve got these things called air conditioning and mini-fridges? For Richichi, noted non-jerk and member of the International Plein Air Painters since 2011, when she traveled to the Ontario home of IPAP’s founder for her first 10th Great Worldwide Paint Out and promptly won Best In Show, the answer is as simple as it is uncompromising. “When you’re outside, you actually see truer colors,” she says. More than that, she says, the art of painting is about more than just what you see, but what you feel. And photographs make her feel almost nothing. “A photograph is only what you see,” says Richichi. “It doesn’t include your emotions or how the space made you feel. But if you’ve ever taken a walk in nature, you can feel the energy.”

Gathering at Bayfront Park, Richichi hopes that all who attend can find something to energize them, regardless of skill level or subject of interest. With ocean waves and boats in one direction, people at the park in another, yachts one way and the architecture of the city behind them, options abound for scenes and studies of all sorts. But for plein air beginners, Richichi does recommend perhaps starting with a sketchbook and pen or colored pencils. “Keep it simple,” she says, as painting outside requires either a careful setup or a lot of juggling, which can be frustrating even in a circus town. As for Richichi, she’ll be posting up with her paints by the little boats next to Marina Jack’s, trying to capture those true colors. “And the colors are different every time,” she says.

The 21st Great Worldwide Paint Out hits Bayfront Park this Saturday, 9am-11am.

Pictured: Street Life, oil on canvas, by Linda Richichi. Photo courtesy of the artist.

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