Dan Burleigh Phillips has been painting furiously these past few weeks in preparation for Saturday’s Art in the Park Show & Sale at Mill Creek Park in South Portland.

Leading up to the show, he likes to spend several weeks at Mount Desert Island preparing new work. He used to live in Scarborough, but now has an RV and travels the coast north to south in search of painting locations.

Virtually all the work that he brings to Art in the Park is fresh.

“For the past two weeks, I’ve been doing nothing but landscapes,” said Phillips, who grew up in Wisconsin and splits his time between Maine and Florida. “My idea is that it’s very important to have a real contact with your subject.”

Burleigh has exhibited lively landscape paintings of the Maine coast at Art in the Park for almost 30 years — almost as long as he has been coming to Maine to paint.

Phillips is a watercolorist. When in Maine, he paints landscapes. In Florida, his work is more abstract.

“I was an oil painter in Wisconsin. But when I got out here — well, things are alive out here,” he said. “I decided that oil painting was a little confining, and I switched over to watercolors. I do nearly all my work in the field, and I work very rapidly. I find I can do a lot better work and work a lot faster with watercolors.

“Things in nature do not stay the same. I am into painting events rather than painting things. Events aren’t static.”

Art in the Park, now in its 31st year, features 185 artists. Over the years, the show has earned a reputation for attracting serious and high-achieving artists. It is a judged show, with more than $2,000 in award money earmarked for winning artists.

This year’s judges are Stretch Studio and Jenny Tuemmler, who do commercial photography in Portland, and Anastasia S. Weigle, a visual artist.

The show has a strong youth component as well. Art in the Park awards a $1,000 scholarship to a South Portland student who intends to study art in college, and also features artwork created by students in South Portland schools. Three works created by students are used for promotion, including on posters, T-shirts and the program.

Prize winners will be announced at noon in the park gazebo, and the judge’s tent, which includes one submission by each artist in the show, is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The student art tent is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The show itself is up all day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Art in the Park is a personal highlight for Phillips, who always notches a few sales. “It’s my best show. It’s a wonderful show,” he said. “The quality of the show is excellent, and it’s been very good to me.”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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