‘I have been to a lot of paint outs, and this is the best one I have ever been to,” says Long Island painter Noel Darvie. “I think the hospitality for the artists is phenomenal. I love this paint out, and I can’t say that about the others.”

Darvie is speaking about the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart’s annual paint out event, which takes place Saturday, October 21, at the academy’s campus on Drake’s Corner Road in Princeton. The event, open to artists and spectators alike, offers a day for artists to paint scenes on the school’s beautiful grounds using oil, watercolor, acrylic, or pastel. The school’s 43-acre campus includes the 22,000 square foot Manor House, designed by the well-known architect Rolf Bauhan and built in an eclectic Gothic style. The campus also contains other scenic areas including a grotto, stone gazebo, formal garden with fountain, meadows, and woods. Visitors are encouraged to watch as the artists create their works of art.

Darvie, who participated in the event in 2004, says this year he will probably choose one of the architectural elements of the campus as his subject matter, but adds, “I never know until I get there.” Darvie was born in Bronx, New York. His father was a jeweler and model maker, and his mother was a housewife. Darvie attended Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, graduating in 1968. He also studied college-level painting and drawing at the Westchester Art Workshop and at the Art Students League in New York. He lives in Valley Stream, Long Island, and is currently a part-time artist, also working as a construction manager for Merrill Lynch.

“I started out as a portrait painter and then went on to do landscapes on location, and I’ve been doing that for over 25 years now,” says Darvie.

Unlike most paint outs, the event at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart is free to the artists and they do not charge a commission on paintings sold at the event. Sandra Tasca, event coordinator and Academy parent: “This is a community building event in support of artists.” The first event in 2003 drew in 42 artists, and 2004 drew in 90 artists and 30 students. At the time of my conversation with Tasca, she had already received positive responses from approximately 80 artists to the open call for this year’s event.

Russ Johnson participated in both previous events and plans to attend this year. He says the campus “looks like old England. It’s a spectacular location, one of the finest painting locations in New Jersey, and it’s only open to the public to paint during this event. It has open fields, deep woods, fountains — it’s really terrific and it’s totally free, which is remarkable. It is above and beyond what they have to do.”

Johnson was born in Staten Island, his father a deputy sheriff, his mother a homemaker. He earned a bachelors in English from Wagner College in 1967 and a masters degree in 1972, taking “a bunch of art courses” throughout. After five and a half years in the Air Force, and starting a family, Johnson found himself the CEO of a small Citigroup company, living in Princeton Junction, and painting watercolors in his spare time. Eventually he decided he could not do it on a part-time basis anymore. “In order to get where you want to be you have to bite the bullet and give it a shot.” Johnson has been painting full-time since 2001.

‘The big draw of this paint out is the architecture,” says Johnson. In his first year he painted the Manor House, and in the second he painted the fountain. This year he is unsure what the subject will be but it will follow his usual style, painting “smaller scenes with lots of texture and detail rather than larger scenes.” He also adds that during the day he is usually able to finish his main piece and then continue to make several less detailed studies.

The event begins at 6 a.m., with artists painting until 4 p.m. At 4:30 p.m. a wine and cheese reception will be held in the Manor House and all of the works created during the paint out will be displayed and available for purchase at a silent auction. At 6 p.m. the auction will close and awards will be announced.” And once again, sweetening the pot, according to Tasca’s invitation, there will be breakfast and coffee and treats in the Manor House and barbequed burgers at lunch, all available to both artists and spectators.

Awards given will include the “Utrecht Plein-Air Award of Excellence,” a $300 Artsmart Value card, a $250 award sponsored by the New American Gallery for “the Watercolor Which Best Captures the Spirit of Princeton Academy,” the “Academy Award” of $100 for the most creative use of light, and a “Newcomers Award” of $50

Yardley artist John Ennis, whose painting, “Purple Scarf” (see U.S. 1, October 11), just won the Patrons Award at the 77th annual Phillips Mill juried exhibition in Stockton, will return this year for the experience of the event. He says via E-mail that last year’s event took place on “a beautiful fall day, a great experience to paint with fellow artists. I met several new friends there.”

Ennis was born in Bristol, Pennsylvania, to a father who was a weaver and a mother who was a nurse. He received a bachelors in fine art from the Maryland Institute and is a life member of the Art Students League. Ennis is currently a full-time artist; following a successful career in illustration, he now primarily paints portraits. Using oil, Ennis also paints various subjects including plein-air landscapes, but he says his work consists of primarily figurative painting, both from life and from photos. Last year at the Academy paint out, Ennis painted foliage, but this year he says he “may choose some structure, a building or fountain, and possibly add a figure.”

According to the Academy’s website, “The paint out is a wonderful experience for for young and old alike, perfect for families to enjoy together.” Spectators are encouraged to come and observe, ask questions, talk with the artists, or bring their own supplies and paint their own scenes.

Paint Out, Saturday, October 21, 6 a.m., Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, 101 Drake’s Corner Road, Princeton, Artists are invited to spend the day painting scenes on the school’s 43-acre grounds. Complimentary lunch served to artists. Wine and cheese reception features a silent auction of works created that day. Awards announced at 6 p.m. Free. Rain or shine. 609-921-6499.

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