Farmers market captured on canvas

MANATEE -- At the farmers market Saturday, Joan Peters dabbed paint onto a canvas carefully, occasionally taking a few steps back and squinting at her work in progress.

The scene included a storefront, a tree on bare dirt. But in her landscape, Peters added vivid shades of green grass under the tree.

"That's the nice thing about art," Peters said. "You can make it anything you like. You can invent it."

Peters was among more than a dozen artists who participated in the Quickdraw art competition, where they painted scenes of Old Main Street "en plein air," French for in the open air, a term used to describe outdoor painting.

"We have people from all over," said Susie Covert, one of the event organizers. Among the contestants was Jason Prigge, from Manitowoc, Wis.; Kelly Medford, from Rome, Italy, and others from the Bradenton area and the rest of Florida. "It's going to be a wonderful day."

Quickdraw kicks off Paint the Town, an annual painting competition that began about eight years ago in St. Petersburg. Since last year, it has taken place in Bradenton with the help of ArtCenter Manatee.

Next week, more than 25 artists will paint scenes of Bradenton at different locations, including Pine Avenue in Anna Maria on Monday, King Farm on Tuesday, and the De Soto Historical Park on


On Thursday, all of the artwork will be displayed at the ArtCenter Manatee, where the winners will be announced. There are $2,000 worth of prizes, Covert said.

Jane Keeling, another organizer, said the event showcases Bradenton's "picturesque" qualities.

On Saturday, the artists set up their easels and began to paint scenes of Old Main Street at 9 a.m.

Covert was among the participants. She decided to paint, well, another painter. She explained that in order to achieve 'en plein air' art, the artist must choose a very still object.

Prigge painted a larger canvas depicting the south side of Old Main Street near Manatee Avenue West. He has been a part of other painting events throughout the country, including in Illinois and Indiana.

Prigge said he enjoys 'en plein air' art because "it's just spontaneous. It's a lot of fun."

Medford painted several tents set up forthe farmers market. She said she visits Florida every year to attend several art competitions, adding that the Sunshine State's landscape makes it a great place for artists.

She will be participating in the Paint the Town event next week. "This is just like the warm-up."

Their deadline to turn in artwork was noon. One by one, the artists lined up their work so that the judge, local renowned artist Susan Foster, could choose the winner.

For several minutes, she slowly paced back and forth, taking in each painting.

"I had a real hard time choosing just one," she said.

The winner: Jason Prigge. He was awarded art supplies and a certificate.

He walked up to receive his prize with paint-smeared shorts, saying he was "flattered" to win.

For more information on Paint the Town, visit artcentermanatee.org.