Walla Walla Valley to see easels sprout in area ‘Paint Out’

Margaret Walters sits in front of a painting of a flower that her painting instructor Vee J. Hill painted.

Margaret Walters sits in front of a painting of a flower that her painting instructor Vee J. Hill painted.


WALLA WALLA ­— Painters one, painters two — painters using red, painters using blue.

Walla Walla will host a “Paint Out” for three days next week to honor the late Vee J. Hill and benefit Walla Walla’s Carnegie Picture Lab.

Paint Out Schedule

Painting Locations and Times:

Wednesday, June 26

9-11:30 a.m. Pioneer Park, Whitman College, Odd Fellows

1-4 p.m. Tero Estates Winery

Thursday, June 27

8:30 a.m.-noon, Lavender Farm

5 p.m.-dusk, Bennington Lake

Friday June 28

9:15 a.m.-4 p.m. Harris Park, Milton-Freewater

Saturday June 29

4:30-6 p.m. Reception and sale at Carnegie Picture Lab, 515 E. Main St.

A paint out is a gathering of artists working independently on pieces over a concentrated but short period of time. Walla Walla’s benefit is akin to a painting marathon.

The painters spend the three days — June 26-28 — in different locations painting the landscapes around them.

They will paint Walla Walla area landscapes around Pioneer Park, Whitman College, the Odd Fellows Home, Tero Estates Winery, Lavender Farm and Bennington Lake. Artists will also be in Harris Park near Milton-Freewater.

Vee J. Hill was a popular painting teacher in the 1970s in Sarasota and Venice, Fla. She taught landscape painting and established a following — called the “Straw Hat Painters” — that continued to meet and paint after her retirement in the 1990s.

They met weekly and continue to meet today, though few original students remain.

One of the faithful Straw Hats retired to Walla Walla, bringing her love of landscape painting along. Ninety year-old Margaret Walters has been painting about 40 years and is spearheading the Paint Out.

An original student of Hill’s, Walters recalls the freedom Hill gave her students. She says that instead of making each student paint the exact scene Hill selected, she allowed students to spread about an area to chose something they were interested in painting.

“She didn’t try to make people paint the same way she did,” Walters said. “She wanted each person to develop their own style and way of painting.”

Walters valued the community that Hill’s class created. In addition to the stylistic freedoms, students were encouraged to view and give feedback on each other’s works.

“She was a very inspiring teacher” said Walters.

The Paint Out will work as both a benefit and an annual reunion for Straw Hat Painters, many of whom will travel from Florida for the event. Local painters will also be added to the mix.

Walters looks forward observing the two groups painting together and seeing if they will interpret the landscape in a different way. She sees the visual disparity of Walla Walla and coastal Florida as exciting.

“The landscape is so different from where I came from; it’s a great challenge to capture what it’s about” said Walters. She hopes local people will respond to the painters interpretations of the areas around them. She especially wants the community to come to see the completed works.

After the three days of painting, the Picture Lab will hold a reception featuring creations of Walla Walla Valley summer scenery hot off the easels and available for purchase.

Sales will benefit the lab and its mission to bring art education to Walla Walla students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Evelyn Levine can be reached at evelynlevine@wwub.com or 509-526-8323.