By Diane Urbani de la Paz
for Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — They were a band of anti-establishment misfits, artists shocking the people with what they were doing outdoors.
We know them now as the impressionists — Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Pierre August Renoir and their plein-air-painting brothers.
In “An Evening Devoted to the Impressionist Movement” on Monday, Peninsula College art professors Michael Mills and Marina Shipova will bask in those sunny days when these painters were anything but tame.
Paired with a video, “Impressionism at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris,” their presentation will start at 7 p.m. at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Admission is a suggested $10 donation to the nonprofit center.
The impressionists’ images are widely considered lovely by modern critics.
Back in the day — the 1870s and ’80s — “their works were scandalous,” Mills said.
These artists were a plucky band of underdogs and the conventional art community found all kinds of ways to deride them. They kept painting, naturally. Today, impressionist paintings are among the world’s most desired works of art.
Shipova, for her part, promises to bring another dimension to the evening. While impressionism’s roots first grew in French soil, the form has inspired artists around the globe, especially Russia.
Using vivid slides, Shipova will show Russian impressionistic paintings: lively depictions of everyday life on canvases suffused with color and light.
“Russia’s rich cultural history, that has too long been overlooked, can now be viewed in museums such as St. Petersburg’s Hermitage,” she added.
The fine arts center program is part of the adult education offerings leading up to Paint the Peninsula, the fifth annual plein air art festival and competition set for Aug. 21-27.
Another warm-up event comes Aug. 3 in the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center trip to the Emily Carr House in Victoria.
Participants will discover Carr, one of Canada’s beloved plein air painters, and see the new “Picturing the Giants: Changing Landscapes of Emily Carr” at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
The cost for the trip is $50, and registration is available on the fine arts center’s site, www.PAFAC.org.
During Paint the Peninsula, 23 artists from across the United States and Canada come to the North Olympic Peninsula to paint, impressionist-like, in the outdoors. Their locations include Olympic National Park, the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, Salt Creek County Park and Port Townsend and environs.
Their fresh paintings fill the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center through the week, and the competition culminates in a gala awards party where $12,000 in prizes are awarded.
Also during Paint the Peninsula, two teaching artists will give workshops in watercolor and oil painting Aug. 17, 18 and 19. For information about those and the rest of the festival, see www.Paintthe Peninsula.org.
Meantime, Mills invites art lovers to meet the impressionists Monday.
“Come take a look at these pretty pictures,” he said, “and you will see them in a whole new light.”
Diane Urbani de la Paz is a freelance writer and photographer living in Port Angeles.