'More real than a photograph'

Plein air artists will gather in Laguna Beach for a week of painting local scenes and selling their work.

October 06, 2011|By Cindy Frazier
  • Greg LaRock paints his interpretation of the shoreline at Diver's Cove in Laguna Beach. LaRock is one of many artists invited by the Laguna Art Museum's Plein Air Invitational to compete in a "Paint-Out."
Greg LaRock paints his interpretation of the shoreline… (Steven Georges,…)

Plein air painter Greg LaRock can't count the number of times he has painted Monument Point in Laguna Beach, but he never tires of the view.

"It's different every time," he said. "Depending on the time of day and year you have different paintings."

LaRock spends hours at his portable easel, working quickly with one brush and a full palette of colors to create realistic but impressionistic landscapes that draw viewers in.

"You don't have to do much more than suggest" a scene, LaRock said. "That gives the viewer more to do, so the viewer becomes part of the painting and engaged in the painting, rather than spelling it all out for them."

People also enjoy seeing the paintings come to life before their eyes, and this often triggers a sale, he said.

LaRock, a Newport Beach resident, believes the artist's eye is more discerning than a camera lens, but he does occasionally use photographs to help him complete his work in the studio.


"The camera sees differently from the eye," LaRock said. "A painting should feel more real than a photograph."

One of the challenges of plein air painting is that as the painting emerges, the subject matter changes due to the movement of the sun or weather. But the painter must always remember the scene that presented itself when the easel was set up, LaRock said.

"When you decide on a scene you have to stay with that light, remember the light," he said.

LaRock is one of 45 plein air artists asked to participate in the 13th annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational, sponsored by Laguna Art Museum and the Laguna Beach Plein Air Painters Assn., known as LPAPA. Some of the city's best-known artists will participate, including Jacobus Baas, Ken Auster and Maria Bertran, as well as noted artists from around the country.

The event will kick off with a Quick Draw competition at Heisler Park on Sunday and culminate in a gala Collector's Soiree on Oct. 15 and public showing Oct. 16 at the museum. In between are various opportunities to meet artists and watch them paint, and learn about plein air work.

This year, the Laguna College of Art & Design is sponsoring a competition for its students, and students from Laguna schools will also be invited to test their painting skills at a Kids' Paint Out. Their work will be for sale, with proceeds benefiting the schools.

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