Walton County Cultural Arts Alliance's Visual Arts Committee is hosting the art exhibit Outdoor Magic now through Sept. 4 at Grand Boulevard.

The exhibit features 26 pieces of artwork by 17 artists created by painting outdoors, also called en plein air.

"There are no rules when you paint en plein air," said show coordinator Joan Vienot at the opening reception.

Walton County Artist of the Year Melody Bogle was juror for the show and she also has a painting in the exhibit.

Bogle works in both pastels and oils.

"When an artist is painting outdoors, we look for how the light falls on something," said Bogle. "It's all about the light."

Bogle began painting outdoors in 2000 after taking a workshop.

"Outdoors, you have true light and it's amazing the color you see. It's more atmospheric and the light is fabulous with shadows falling on everything. It's pure. A photo will lie to you, but true light will not. Judges can pick out a piece that has been created en plein air as there is a freshness about it."

Bogle has been an artist most of her life, and these days paints mostly outdoors.

Vienot said she and Bogle have been talking about doing an en plein air exhibit for a few years and took the idea to CAA Executive Director Jennifer Steele, telling her how much fun the en plein air festival that is held in Apalachicola is. After visiting the festival, Steele decided South Walton should have a similar event.

Steele used the Outdoor Magic opening reception to announce that plans are in the works for an en plein air festival to go along with Flutterby Festival in mid November at Rosemary Beach.

Flutterby has primarily been a children's festival with art booths.

"Adding the en plein air genre will make it a festival for children and adults," said Vienot.

Two elements the committee and CAA are looking at are possibly a quick draw where someone blows a horn and artists paint until the horn is blown again. Judging follows and prizes are awarded.

A second possibility is sending artists out to paint anywhere they choose, then bringing their creations in to a wet room and selling their paintings off the easel.

The Foster Gallery is an artist co-operative led by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County that features at least a dozen member artists on a seasonally rotating basis, along with special exhibits.