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Presidents’ Week: Peek over the shoulder of a master artist

By Staff | Jan 28, 2016

“All Aboard” by Hiu Lai Chong.

LAHAINA – The Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational in Lahaina from Feb. 13-20 will host 25 acclaimed professional artists who paint “en plein air,” outdoors and on location.

Famous artists from Hawaii and the U.S. Mainland will create works of art in two to four hours – a process open to the public at several Lahaina locations during Presidents’ Week.

These artists compose their canvas, sketch and apply oils, watercolors or pastels to create one-of-a-kind masterpieces. They create masterful illusions of three dimensions on a flat canvas in a very short window of time. A glance at a painting will tell you what time of day it was painted! This process is amazing to watch.

New to the event this year is Mian Situ from California. Artistic depth and versatility are his hallmarks. Besides his powerful landscapes that often depict historical events, Situ also excels at capturing the proportions and movement of human anatomy in his figurative and portraiture. Artists and enthusiasts on Maui have a unique opportunity to see this master in action.

A native of Guangdong (Canton) China, Situ will interpret Mauiscapes and Maui people going about their daily chores. His deeper-toned impressionistic style creates poignant faces that pull at the heart.

“Girl from Guizhou” by Mian Situ.

Maui Arts League President Lois Reiswig said, “We are honored to have Mian participate in our invitational. Maui art lovers will be thrilled to see his intense and elegantly detailed artworks.”

Situ received Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts Degrees from the Guangzhou Institute of Fine Art. His accolades are too numerous to print. Recent works with western historical themes have won Mian national acclaim, including the coveted “Award for Excellence” for Master Signature members of the Oil Painters of America for his painting, “Helping Hand.”

An early career with Hallmark Cards honed John P. Lasater IV’s drawing and design skills for the time when he would strike out as a full-time painter and art instructor with a studio in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. His 2015 honors alone include Best in Show in the Sedona Plein Air Festival and ten other national awards. Both Southwest Art and Plein Air Magazine have featured his artworks.

Lasater co-founded The American Artists’ Association with a mission to promote art to communities currently indifferent to fine art. He and Todd A. Williams created “24 Paintings in 24 Hours,” an event that partners with galleries in art-starved areas to stage a 24-hour plein air marathon, where Lasater creates 24 new plein air paintings in 24 straight hours.

Hiu Lai Chong paints in oil and enjoys using colors and brushstrokes to express mood and feeling of her subjects. Her paintings have won numerous awards and are shown in museums across the country.

John Lasater painting “en plein air.”

Chong returns to Maui from Maryland to best her fabulous 2015 rendition of a Lahaina Sugar Cane Train Locomotive called “All Aboard,” which won “Best in Show.”

She trained at Navarre College in Hong Kong, then earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2012, she was featured in Plein Air Magazine and won the Collectors’ Choice Award at the Laguna Plein Air Invitational. She also took First Place in Southwest Art Magazine’s 2014 Artistic Excellence Competition.

She is a member of the Oil Painters of America, Portrait Society of America, and the Washington Society of Landscape Painters. She is a signature member of the American Society of Marine Artists.

A few lucky Maui artists will be attending Chong’s sell-out workshop the week before the Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational, learning how she captures mood and movement by applying vivid colors with sensitive brush strokes.

One of the grand dames of Maui art, Native Hawaiian Betty Hay Freeland brings to the Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational her presence, grace and deep reverence for her cultural traditions. Her sun-kissed, wind-blown landscapes show an uninhibited familiarity with the ‘aina (land.) Her gift is touching the intrinsic properties of nature, giving her important value as she chronicles passing eras in Hawaii.

Betty Hay Freeland is one of the grand dames of Maui art.

After Punahou School and the University of Colorado, Freeland continued her art studies in New York City. She returned to Maui in 1961 to raise a family and pursue her art. From her one-person exhibits to her current prestige as a nationally and internationally acclaimed artist, she has been a role model for young Hawaiians and all who wish to pursue careers in fine arts.

Freeland imagery has become synonymous with Hawaii. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau and many Maui businesses seek her paintings to promote our islands. Her paintings adorn local hotels, travel brochures and even delight us on calendars and product packaging.

Visit MauiPleinAirPainting.org for dates, art viewing and purchasing opportunities at the event from Feb. 13-21. For other requests, e-mail Info@ MauiPleinAirPainting.org or call Una Somerville at (808) 214-5294.