Capturing the Light


Story by Rita Goldman

You know that story of the demigod Maui lassoing the sun and forcing it to travel more slowly across the sky? I suspect an artist put him up to it. As anyone who paints outdoors will tell you, it’s a challenge to record the scene before the light shifts, changing everything.

This February, we’ll have the chance to watch renowned plein-air artists from around Hawai‘i and across the U.S. Mainland race against the sun to capture island scenes with canvas and paint. Presented by Islanders, a statewide organization of plein-air painters, the fourth annual Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational runs February 14 through 21. For much of the week, you’re likely to encounter the artists as they scatter across the island to find the subjects and settings that move them.

“Plein air” is a high-falutin’ way of saying “out of doors,” a method of painting the Impressionists made popular. It’s not easy. Ronaldo Macedo, a founding member of Islanders, hopes the public will come watch the artists in action—and practice good manners when they do.

“The artists are used to having people watch them work, but being asked a lot of questions can be disruptive. It takes concentration to edit all the visual information in front of you and distill what you want to put on canvas.”

Macedo’s advice? “Stand back so you can see the painting, and let the artist initiate the conversation.”

No such restrictions apply when you join the artists at one of the Invitational’s lectures or receptions. (For the schedule, visit And if all that artistic activity gets your own creative juices flowing, consider taking one of the plein-air workshops being offered by Islanders this year. Proceeds from Ken Auster’s three-day workshop, February 10 through 12, and Camille Przewodek’s five-day workshop, February 23 through 27, fund scholarships for Maui high-school students pursuing a career in art.

Love to add to your collection? Join us for a celebratory evening with the artists and their finished works on Friday, February 20, at the Village Galleries, 120 Dickenson Street in Lahaina.


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