Promotions bill Roberts’ “Inn BoonsBoro” trilogy as being “inspired by the inn (she) owns and the town she loves.” The inn referenced is the boutique-style bed-and-breakfast hotel of the same name as the trilogy on the square in Boonsboro. Roberts updated the property in 2008 with a $3 million renovation.
The Gifts Inn BoonsBoro hosted an en plein air painting event on the streets of Boonsboro on Saturday in coordination with the book signing at Turn the Page Bookstore and the release of “The Perfect Hope,” book three of the trilogy.
En plein air — French for “in the open air” — is the act of painting outdoors, which was advocated by French Impressionist painters such as Matisse and Renoir and has remained popular in years since.
Vickie Coffman, who made a 2 1/2-hour drive from Faulkner, Md., to Boonsboro for the signing, said she has stayed at the Inn BoonsBoro and explored the town.
“It’s amazing over there,” Vickie Coffman said while standing at Turn the Page, indicating the Inn BoonsBoro across the street. “It’s like walking through the books. Everything (Roberts) describes comes to life.”
The “Inn BoonsBoro” trilogy introduces the Montgomery brothers as characters who bring an intimate bed and breakfast to life in their hometown. Boonsboro sites and businesses, including Vesta Pizzeria & Family Restaurant and Dan’s Restaurant & Tap House, are mentioned in story.
Coffman said it was exciting to see Boonsboro bustle and flourish through its association with Roberts’ books, “especially during hard times.”
Artist Peter Plant of Middletown, Md., worked on the porch of Inn BoonsBoro, peering across the street to sketch a scene featuring a historic log building. He planned to add acrylic washes to the piece. Plant said he likes en plein air events.
“I don’t mind painting outside by myself, but when it is entertainment, it’s kind of nice to draw people,” Plant said. “And the people here already have some affinity for Boonsboro because of the books.”
Perched on the opposite side of the porch painting a street scene in oil was Thomas Tholen, an artist who has worked for Marvel doing storyboards for projects such as Transformers, X-Men and Scooby Doo. Tholen moved to Boonsboro from Salt Lake City in May to work as innkeeper at Inn BoonsBoro and plans to open a studio on Main Street.
“This is spectacular. It’s amazing to be in a little town like this and have such a draw,” he said.
Other artists included Daniel Paul Murphy, Deborah Lovelace Richardson, Sunil Sukla, Cindy Roberts Downs, Sheryl Massaro, Kent Roberts and A.J. Freelove.
Participating artists had paintings on display at Gifts Inn Boonsboro. Shop manager Natoma Vargason said the artists planned to paint between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., then their works featuring Boonsboro would be framed, presented and offered for sale at a 3 p.m. open reception.
Vargason said the event provided “a captive audience” for artists as well as fun for Roberts’ fans.
“We thought this would be a great way to tie into the books, and to get some new paintings and some new inventory. We don’t really have a lot of paintings of Boonsboro,” she said. “There are a lot of unique features you don’t see when you are just driving through.”
Roberts fan Georgia Boyer of Frederick, Md., who celebrated the book release with her friend, Pat Zimmerman, said en plein air painting was a nice touch.
“It adds ambiance to the whole day,” Boyer said.
Chelsea Berg, 27, of Hyattsville, Md., said she would like to have images of sites mentioned in Roberts’ books as art in her home. In fact, she created some herself following a previous visit to the inn.
“I’m into photography as a hobby. I blew up pictures of the inn and put them on the walls at my house,” she said. “It’s just beautiful.”
Nicole Rohr, 30, of Washington, D.C., celebrated her birthday at the event with friends and her mother, who was visiting from Missouri.
“I saw people painting things featured in the books. It’s a great way to center around the book signing and a great way to promote the area,” Rohr said. “I’m going to come back to see what they have.”