Plein Air Painters Maryland Ellicott City


Show runs December 2nd, 2015 – February 14th, 2016

Join us for an opening wine and cheese

reception with the Artists:

Sunday December 13th, 2015 4:00-7:00pm


The exciting world of Plein Air painting (painting done outdoors, rapidly capturing a scene in real life) is gaining in popularity, with a growing number of competitions and participating artists, larger audiences, more buyers, and greater media attention. While most Plein Air artists tend to be older, there is a growing number of young talented artists now taking up the challenge.

The skills required to excel at Plein Air painting competitions include not only those used in the studio, but also sheer physical stamina and endurance. The ability to focus despite uncontrollable, sometimes difficult conditions such as fickle weather and being observed by viewers, as well as the time pressure to quickly produce several high-quality paintings over the course of just two or three days, makes Plein Air painting a challenging test for any artist.

Still Life Gallery is proud to feature an exhibit of more than 50 paintings by eight of today’s best young award-winning Maryland Plein Air painters. All have excelled in this demanding field of artistic endeavor; a great tradition that includes the magnificent masters of the medium such as Homer, Monet, and Renoir.


 More than 50 paintings by eight artists: Joanna Barnum, Rick Casali, Peter Emerson, Palden Hamilton, Courtney E. Lee, Alison Leigh Menke, Vanessa Vizcarrondo Piche, Alexander Wissel.


Link to article about this exhibition in PLEIN AIR MAGAZINE



Barnum_PhoenixEmporium_Ellicott City

Joanna Barnum is a Harford County, Maryland based fine artist and illustrator whose expressive watercolor style stretches across several genres, including plein air, portraiture, and editorial and narrative illustration. She received a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2006 with a major in Illustration, and a minor in Art History. Joanna’s approach to watercolor embraces the fluidity and expressive potential of the medium while emphasizing careful observation of color, light, and form.

Joanna began painting “en plein air” in 2012 while looking for a way to document a personal road trip, and has since competed in several juried plein air landscape painting competitions including Easels in Frederick 2014, Mountain Maryland 2014, Paint Annapolis 2014, Paint It! Ellicott City 2013-2015 (receiving Juror’s Choice Awards in 2013 and 2015 and Second Place in the 2015 Quick Draw), and Piedmont, NC Plein Air 2015 where she won the Viewer’s Choice award. She also won “Best Watercolor” at Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association (MAPAPA) Cityscape 2015 at the Peale Center in Baltimore.


Casali Sunbather 14x18
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Evening Light MD AVE 300dpi

Whether painting a portrait in oils, painting a landscape “en plein air”, or sculpting the figure in clay, Maryland artist Rick Casali keeps his artistic principles streamlined: “It is the honest study of nature that leads one to beauty. I strive to capture an essence…a certain color harmony in the landscape or the spirit of a person in the portrait.” His style is a modern blend of Classicism and Impressionism. Rick attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. He studied with John Ebersberger, and apprenticed with renowned portrait artists Cedric and Joanette Egeli. Casali also studied extensively with sculptor Stephen Perkins, an expert in human construction and anatomy. Additional mentors include colorist George T. Thurmond and portrait artist Michael Shane Neal.

Rick teaches drawing, painting, and sculpture at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, as well as workshops across the country. A key figure in the Mid-Atlantic art community, Casali serves as Vice President of the Maryland Society of Portrait Painters, He has won numerous awards in the annual Paint Annapolis Plein Air competition. A member of The Portrait Society of America, Rick was awarded a Certificate of Excellence in the society’s 2012 International Competition for his portrait bust “Gabrielle”. In 2013, his bronze figure “Spring” was selected as a finalist for the National Sculpture Society’s 80th Annual Awards Exhibition in Tampa, FL.




Peter Emerson Late Afternoon Tide




Peter Emerson is the youngest artist ever juried into Plein Air Easton and into Mystic Seaport’s Maritime Art Gallery. He was chosen to be included in the 2014 edition of “100 Plein Air Painters of the Mid-Atlantic” (Schiffer Publishing) Working directly from life like the 19th century painters, he does not carry a camera, and is ever conscious of the light. “Light can bring out the beauty in those things that otherwise appear ugly and distasteful. I am not just painting the beautiful creation; I’m painting light wherever I am, finding beauty in the undervalued as well as in the obvious.”

Peter has always been drawn to marine art, and can frequently be found sketching and painting in marinas and on fishing piers. His typically large canvases feature scenes of maritime subjects ranging from racing yachts and fishing boats to rocks and surf. Other subjects include landscapes, portraits of people, and portraits of homes. Peter’s training includes apprenticeships with portraitist Cedric Egeli of Edgewater, Maryland and landscape painter David Lussier of Woodstock, Connecticut. Peter has exhibited work in the International Marine Art Exhibition at the Maritime Art Gallery in Mystic Seaport, Connecticut in 2010 and 2012.

Peter has won three awards in the Paint Annapolis plein air competition- Honorable Mention in 2009, winning Second Place in 2012, and capturing the Naval Academy Award in 2014. Peter has also competed in other Pennsylvania and Maryland shows, including Plein Air Easton in 2013. He has received awards at Plein Air Camp Hill (2011, 2012, 2013) and Havre de Grace Plein Air (2010, 2012.)





Palden Halmilton.Looking_south




A Baltimore native, Palden Hamilton was encouraged to pursue art from an early age. He majored in painting for his B.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He continued his education at the Art Students League of New York, where he trained under prominent figurative painters Ron Sherr and William Beckman. There he was awarded a Merit Award in Realism in 2003 and the prestigious Phylis T. Mason Grant in 2004.

Palden paints portraits in the tradition of his heroes: John Singer Sargent and Velasquez. In 2008, he received a Certificate of Excellence at the Portrait Society of America’s 10th annual convention in Philadelphia. His portrait, “Holly”, placed in the top thirty of 1,300 entries worldwide in the society’s annual competition. He was notably commissioned to paint Maestro Yuri Temirkanov, outgoing musical director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and current musical director of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in Russia. Hamilton is the teacher of the portraiture and figure painting classes at the Zoll Studio School of Fine Art, an emerging center of representational painting culture and education in the Baltimore area.

Hamilton has used plein air painting to reconnect to his native landscape, and has built a body of work that portrays the Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim, his mother’s homeland. For the last three years, he has been juried to participate in Plein Air Easton, the nation’s most prestigious plein air painting event. In 2015, he won Second Place in the 
Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association (MAPAPA) Cityscape 2015 at the Peale Center in Baltimore.


Courtney Lee Minty Fresh Morning 300dpi

Courtney Lee1



Courtney Lee learned to paint in oils when she was seventeen. Her first oil painting was a copy of John Singer Sargent’s “Head of a Capri Girl.” She studied printmaking in college, working in a minimalistic, Zen-based­ style. In 2004 Courtney received a BA with Honors in Studio Art from Wake Forest University.

After many years of working in accounting but doing no art, she took a plein air painting workshop with a borrowed French easel and a willingness to try something new. Hooked from that point on, she wanted to see the world first­hand, not just through photographs. In June 2015, Courtney discovered plein air competitions. Thriving on the thrilling combination of travel and pressure to produce her best work in a short period of time, she won Second Place in the “Nocturne” category at Paint Annapolis 2015, Maryland. Her time is now divided between capturing the disappearing rural beauty of her native Frederick County and traveling across the country competing in plein air painting events.    


Last Light on The Farm


Sun on the Marshes of Assateague

Multi-award winning, prolific Maryland painter Alison Menke is our best-selling artist at Still Life Gallery. She is a rapidly rising young star in the world of Plein Air painting, who has won many “Best In Show” and other top honors at numerous plein air competitions. Much like the Impressionists who first ventured out into nature with easels and paints in tow,  she is greatly inspired by outdoor light and the true colors of the landscape. Her hallmarks are bold but luminous color choices, confident, decisive, yet loose brushwork, and the ability to produce many high-quality works over a short period of time.

Born abroad and raised in Clarksville, Maryland, Alison now lives in the Washington, DC area. She received a B.A. in Art and Art History from the University of Maryland, College Park and has studied with internationally acclaimed artists in the US and abroad. Growing up she was influenced by the art of her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother whose paintings and passions enchanted her throughout her youth. Artists who have been an inspiration include Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh, Anders Zorn, Kim English, and Clyde Aspevig.









Vanessa Piche is a passionate Plein Air artist who captures her emotional response to the world around her. Citing “nature as her temple” and painting as a “self-reflective practice,” she sees each painting as a conscious creation that feeds her soul. Vanessa competes in nationally recognized Plein Air competitions around the United States and her paintings are in private collections around the world. She is the 2015  U.S. Artist for the International Volvo Ocean Race. Vanessa spends most of her time painting in New England, Maryland, and Indiana. Vanessa resides in North Kingstown RI with her husband and daughter. 



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Alex Wissel

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Catonsville, Maryland artist Alexander Wissel was born in 1978 and spent the first 11 years of his life in the scenic Main Line Pennsylvania area – a region that gave him his love of rolling landscape and classical architecture. Alex is a third generation artist. His grandfather, Arthur Wissel was prolific sculptor and painter. Alex grew up with his grandfather’s and father’s artwork on display at home.

Alexander graduated from the Maryland Institute of Art in 2000. Two local artists and past professors – Mark Karnes and Mark Coates – had a big impact on his work and style, as well as the American Ashcan painters of the early 20th century.

After graduating MICA, Alex sought– in vain – to distance himself from painting and art school. He has been a finance professional since college, however Alex says “the love of art and the pull of painting is a powerful force to contend with”. He found himself drawn back to plein air painting a few years following school.

Alex has competed in juried plein air painting competitions in Easton and Ellicott City. In 2015 he won two of the top 2015 Paint it! Ellicott City Awards- the Gino Award and Best Cityscape.