Artists paint the town

Artists take over the Sydenham Ward as part of a Worldwide Paint Out

Paula Formanek working on her painting of a garden near the waterfront.
Paula Formanek working on her painting of a garden near the waterfront.
Pam Miedema standing in front of her Paint the Town artwork.
Pam Miedema standing in front of her Paint the Town artwork.
Paula Formanek’s painting of the waterfront.
Paula Formanek’s painting of the waterfront.

This weekend, artists wandered through Kingston looking for inspiration as part of a Worldwide Paint Out.

The Kingston event is called Paint the Town. Paint the Town is a paint out event that encourages artists to bring their supplies and sketch or paint scenes while sitting outside.

This is the third year that Kingston has participated in the international event, which is organized by the International Plein Air Painters.

This year’s Paint Out has had the largest turnout so far, with 50 artists registered to participate throughout the weekend. 

Artists gathered early on Friday morning at the Sydenham United Church Hall for opening remarks from event coordinators Rebecca Spaulding and Barb Carr. The opening events also included a welcome from Sir John A. MacDonald, who was played by SALON Theatre actor Paul Dyck.

Spaulding and Carr, both sporting “World Wide Paint Out” buttons, spoke with The Journal after the opening events on Friday.

It was Carr’s idea to make Kingston a part of the Worldwide Paint Out to promote the Kingston School of Art. When Carr asked Spaulding to join the event, Spaulding said she didn’t think twice about helping.

“I love painting outside,” Spaulding said. “I’m always looking for people to paint with and looking for artists to do the same.”

After the opening events, the artists were free to wander throughout Sydenham Ward to look for an appealing scene to paint or sketch. The area is east of Queen’s campus and south of Princess St.

The coordinators pick a new location for the event every year. Last year, the event was held in Barriefield Village. This year, they chose the Sydenham Ward for its historic connections and attractive scenery.

“We’re trying to do it in different parts of Kingston,” Spaulding said. “The Sydenham Ward is newly designated as a historic conservation district, so this is a beautiful area.”

In light of the Sydenham Ward’s associations with Sir John A. MacDonald, Spaulding and Carr supplied artists with a list of locations focusing on Canada’s first Prime Minister.

One of the participating artists David Dossett, however, prefers less popular outdoor subjects in his artwork — alleyways.


David Dossett with his painting of the everyday historical buildings
of the Sydenham Ward. (Photo by Jessica Sung)

Dossett, who recently transformed Martello Alley on Wellington St. into an art gallery and tourist location, said alleyways add character to Kingston’s downtown.

“When you look at them, you see that there are all kinds of different shapes and styles of building and different materials,” Dossett said.

Dorsett says alleyways are historically significant and contribute to the uniqueness of Kingston’s buildings. He believes the abandonment of alleyways demonstrates Kingston’s lack of imagination. 

“Alleyways tend to be unique, at least in Kingston,” Dossett said. “We have so many alleys in Kingston and if you look carefully, you’ll see dozens and dozens of alleys and they’re all underutilized.”

For Dossett, Paint the Town gives him the chance to publicly display how important these alleyways are to him and Kingston. It also lets him demonstrate art outside the confinement of art galleries.

“I really love the idea of Paint the Town because we get artists out there,” he said.

“People will see that art isn’t confined to galleries and museums and should be out here. It’s very relaxed and fun.”

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