BALLINGER - On Saturday, artists from all over the state, nation and the world converged on Ballinger to paint everything from landscapes to landmarks in what many called a beautiful small town.

BALLINGER - On Saturday, artists from all over the state, nation and the world converged on Ballinger to paint everything from landscapes to landmarks in what many called a beautiful small town.

A total of 24 artists set up easels at locations all over town and commenced to painting what they saw and all said, they saw plenty. The EnPleinAirTEXAS Pre-Event Paint Out, included artists from Maryland to Florida and even one from Russia, another from Canada and another still from France. The event kicked off a week-long EnPleinAirTEXAS event in and around San Angelo and culminates Oct. 29 at Fort Concho in San Angelo.

Ballinger artist and sponsor of the local event, Susan Mansell, said she was delighted with the turn-out at the event.

“The whole day was phenomenal,” Mansell said. “People were so excited to see what the artists had done.”

Tom Orsak, who helped organize the event this year along with Barbara Rallo, of EnPleinAir TEXAS in San Angelo, said he was happy with the turnout.

“It is a really good crowd,” he said while painting the clock in Pioneer Plaza, in his painters hat, which looks like a combination of a sombrero and a fedora.

A few blocks away, a half dozen of the artists had gathered around the Wool and Mohair building owned by Stan Bickel.

Mary Pettis, of Taylors Falls, Minnesota had her easel up and was painting the old truck in front of the building. She was using oil.

“There is so much character here,” Pettis said. “I love painting the authentic character of this little West Texas town. It is so charming. There is an adventure around every corner.”

In the end, Pettis vowed to consider naming her painting “Stan Bickel’s Truck.”

Bill Farnsworth, of Venice, Florida, was a few feet away, painting the old truck from a different angle.

“This is a cool place,” said Farnsworth who said he was a “full time artist” when he was selling his work.

“It’s a profession when I’m selling and a hobby when I’m not,” he quipped.

Nancy Tankersley, who hails from Maryland is one of the artists who started the En Plein Air movement in her part of the country. Rallo, who organized this event, actually started the event four years ago after attending the event in Maryland.

Tankersley was painting a grain elevator near the railroad tracks on Saturday.

“I love the collection of shapes,” Tankersley said adding that she paints in oil.

“It is great for the artists,” she said. “We are always looking for authentic things to paint and Ballinger is so authentic.”

During the day, the artists were treated to lunch sponsored by First National Bank of Ballinger.

At 4 p.m. Mansell selected two works for the People’s Choice Award including a piece by Tina Bohlman and another by artist Nester Hernandez. The two split the $250 cash prize.

While the paintings from the Ballinger event were not entered in the official competition, the People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Ballinger artist Susan Mansell, was selected from the work painted during that day, and was also be available for sale. En plein air, which is French for “out in the open air,” is a style of painting which dates back centuries where artists paint landscapes, buildings and scenery outdoors in various lights. It is most recognized within the works of legendary French impressionist painters like Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-August Renoir, who all practiced this style.

The San Angelo area has been an attraction to artists from around the country for almost 100 years. In the 1920’s the distinctive emerald green Concho River south of San Angelo, attracted artists and nationally recognized faculty from 22 states to paint “en plein air” at the Texas Artist Camp, which became one of the leading institutions of its kind in the Southwest.

Overall Mansell said the artists were excited to come to Ballinger and the community was very welcoming.

“It turned out exceedingly well,” Mansell said. “People were excited to come to Ballinger and see this community through different eyes.