CAPE ELIZABETH — The town was turned into an outdoor art studio Sunday.

Dozens of artists fanned out across the landscape to capture some of Cape Elizabeth’s most beautiful vistas on canvas as part of the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust’s Paint for Preservation Wet Paint Auction.

The sold-out event raises thousands of dollars for the land trust each year and allows artists to meet the public.

“It’s a good excuse to get out,” said John Knight, a Portland artist who stood along Shore Road to paint Pond Cove.

The highest price paid for a single painting this year was $4,700 for a painting of Two Lights by artist Caleb Stone of Ipswich, Mass. The average sale price for this year’s paintings was about $2,000.
Overall, the auction raised about $50,000 this year.

The event, in its fifth year, can be stressful for the artists, said Christopher Franklin, land trust executive director.

Only a couple of artists are invited to participate. This year they were Holly Ready of Cape Elizabeth and Stone. The rest have to pay a $20 application fee and be judged to get in. This year just 30 from a field of 80 made the cut.

Then they have to paint under a deadline and watch their work compete against that of other artists in the auction.

“I nearly had a breakdown yesterday,” said Patricia Ritzo, a Falmouth artist, as she painted looking out from Pond Cove.

But by 11 a.m. Sunday, she had relaxed and was chatting away with visitors.

“I like the challenge,” Ritzo said.

Ticket holders were given maps with locations of the painters, some on private oceanfront property with sweeping views of Casco Bay that are normally off limits to the public. Jessie Timberlake of Cape Elizabeth brought along an artist friend intending to visit as many artists as possible before the reception and auction Sunday evening.

“I like to support the land trust and we do not normally get to be here,” she said as she visited with Ready who was painting Zeb Cove.

Ready had arrived at her site by 5 a.m. to capture the sunrise.

“You have to work quickly because the light changes,” Ready said.

Like other participating artists, Ready said she had been thinking and planning ahead. She said she was able to get the basic painting down in about two hours and then moved on to a second canvas to paint a refined version.

“When the colors start to sing, that’s my thing,” Ready said.

Franklin said the amount raised by the auction has risen every year. Last year, it raised $51,000 with each piece averaging $1,500.

Some of the money raised in the auction will go toward the land trust’s $1.2 million campaign to buy and preserve 64 more acres of the Robinson Woods, Franklin said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]

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