“Ross Island Bridge” by Michael Stasinos is among 58 paintings in “Weather or Not,” the plein air art show opening Friday at Jeanette Best Gallery in Port Townsend.

“Ross Island Bridge” by Michael Stasinos is among 58 paintings in “Weather or Not,” the plein air art show opening Friday at Jeanette Best Gallery in Port Townsend.

Plein air exhibit opens Friday

PORT TOWNSEND — “Plein air painting carries a refreshing freedom. You are in the moment. Everything you know comes rushing up and out through your fingers. There’s nothing quite like it,” painter Anni Leedy says.

She’s one of the 26 artists whose plein air work is on display in “Weather or Not,” an exhibition of 58 paintings. The show opens today and runs through Oct. 29 at Northwind Art’s Jeanette Best Gallery, 701 Water St. in Port Townsend, which is open from noon to 5 p.m. daily.

The “Weather or Not” name comes from a group of local painters who went out into the elements to do their thing. Kathy Francis (1942-2020) of Port Townsend started it all, gathering artist friends to paint together and encourage one another. The group had no rules, no dues and no meetings.

“Ruby Beach High Tide” by Sequim artist Roger Morris appears in “Weather or Not,” the plein air art show opening Friday at Jeanette Best Gallery in Port Townsend.

“Ruby Beach High Tide” by Sequim artist Roger Morris appears in “Weather or Not,” the plein air art show opening Friday at Jeanette Best Gallery in Port Townsend.

The artists painted in bright sun, took shelter under eaves when it rained, and revelled in the joy and challenge of it all. The “Weather or Not” exhibition is a tribute to Francis and to the art form.

Juror Catherine Gill of Seattle will give a free talk — and reveal her juror’s choice and merit award winners — at 3 p.m. Saturday surrounded by the paintings at Jeanette Best Gallery.

“It’s going to be a wonderful show,” said Gill, who selected the artworks from 175 entries.

“‘Weather or Not’ takes you all over the Pacific Northwest. The paintings capture the most beautiful places — Lake Crescent, La Push, Whatcom Falls, Ruby Beach — in all four seasons of the year,” said Northwind Art communications manager Diane Urbani.

“Flowers bloom, lakes reflect the sky, snow decorates the forest,” she added, “and all of it is suffused with natural light.”

Anne Pfeiffer of Port Angeles, who has a pair of paintings in the show, said her brushstrokes express the energy she feels while standing out there in the open air.

Plein air artists, she said, “share a love of celebrating nature.”

Kathy Francis also loved to soak up the wind, sun and light. Her husband Bob recalled the days when she was the driving force, going out with the Weather or Not painters in their Volkswagen camper van.

“She would load it up with people, and off they’d go, everything flapping in the breeze. It was pretty wild,” he said.

“This is my challenge — painting the light,” Francis wrote in her artist statement.

“Painting on location allows me to witness firsthand the effects of light and weather and season on the landscape. Painting plein air offers constantly changing possibilities.”

Francis took a bare canvas out to her site, then completed the painting there. The only things she did in her studio were remove dirt and bugs and add her signature.

Several members of the Weather or Not group, including Marian and Roger Morris of Sequim and Cappy Mathias and Sandra Offutt of Port Townsend, have paintings in the Jeanette Best Gallery show. Artists from across Western Washington and Idaho also share the space.

Visitors to the “Weather or Not” exhibition will be invited to vote for their favorite works, and the $100 People’s Choice award will be announced after the exhibition closes at October’s end.

Bob and Kathy Francis (photo courtesy Bob Francis)

Bob and Kathy Francis (photo courtesy Bob Francis)

Bob Francis, as he looks forward to the exhibition, recalled his wife’s zest for art and life.

“Her paintings were pretty joyous,” he said. “She was a very joyous person.”

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