CAMANO ISLAND — Pro tip: Bring a friend with long arms to the Roaming Artists Art Show this weekend.
The Camano Island Roaming Artists will show plein air works at their annual exhibit Sept. 4 and 5 at the Island County Multi-Purpose Center.
More than 200 original watercolor, acrylic and oil paintings made by about 20 of the group’s artists will be showcased this year.
The show is a chance to view scenery from the area — from the beaches of Camano Island to the barns of Fir Island — through a variety of painting techniques, styles and mediums.
This year’s featured artist is Camano Island’s Joy Shefter.
Shefter is among the 28 members in the group who meet twice a week during the summer to paint together outdoors. They mostly visit places around Camano Island, but have traveled from Everett to Bellingham.
This year, the group has painted at Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham, Legion Memorial Park in Arlington, Camano Island State Park, Washington Park in Anacortes, the Evergreen Arboretum in Everett and Fir Island near La Conner, among others.
A watercolorist, Shefter trained at Cleveland Institute of Art in Cleveland, Ohio. But when she joined the Camano Island Roaming Artists in 2013, Shefter hadn’t painted in about 45 years.
Now that she’s picked up the paintbrush again, her style is a mix of impressionistic and abstract ideas.
Shefter was inspired by a group visit to Northern State Mental Hospital in Sedro-Woolley. Now abandoned, the asylum was established in 1909 to help with overcrowding at two of Washington’s mental hospitals.
“As I started painting, I swear I felt lost souls wandering around,” she said. “It was a creepy experience, but the actual subject matter was really interesting.”
On another trip, Shefter painted a composition of garden art on display at Christiansen’s Nursery near La Conner.
“I like to say that artists play God because no matter what’s there, you move it around,” she said. “Even if it’s a mountain or a tree, you move things to complement your art.”
The Camano Island Roaming Artists formed about 27 years ago. All the artists in the group share a love for plein air painting. They paint outdoors so that they can incorporate natural light, color and movement into their works.
“Artists are often solitary, but we’re in a group,” said Juanita Hagberg, the coordinator of the Camano Island Roaming Artists. “We can bounce things off of each other.”
Hagberg, of Camano Island, has been painting with the group for 17 years.
Her style changes whether she’s indoors or out. When Hagberg is outdoors, she paints impressionistic landscapes. When she’s indoors, her paintings are abstract.
“I like being outdoors,” she said. “I like the fact that because conditions can change really fast, you have to paint really fast.”
Why do you need long arms? There will be a raffle for a member’s painting. Raffle tickets are $1 each, or you can get an arm’s length of tickets for $5. So the longer your or your friend’s arm, the better the chance you have of winning.
“It’s a fun thing we do,” Hagberg said. “That’s a bargain.”
This year’s raffle prize is a painting by Lane Rowell titled “Lighthouse.” It’s a watercolor of the North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment. The lighthouse was completed in 1898.
“I find it exciting and peaceful to get out and paint,” said Rowell, who has been painting with the group for 18 years. “The scenery here is fantastic in the state of Washington.”
Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; email@example.com; @sarabruestle.