Artists have big fun at Big Draw Festival

On Saturday, Oct. 12, the Mispillion Art League took creativity to the street as part of this month’s Big Draw Festival events. The theme of this year’s Big Draw – an international event – is “Drawn to Life.” Local sand sculptors Andy West and Darrell O’Connor built a demonstration castle before letting kids and adults join in on the fun. The sand, donated by Pennsy Supply of Dover, offered a small beach on Park Avenue in Milford. (Submitted photos)

The Mispillion Art League has had a big time with its Big Draw Festival so far this month.

Dozens of classes and family events have been held on the streets of Milford and elsewhere throughout October.

The kickoff event was Oct. 5 during the final Milford Farmers Market of the season with pumpkin art included in the festivities.

On Oct. 12, the art league closed Park Avenue and with help from the Milford Parks and Recreation crew, dumped eight tons of sand donated by Pennsy Supply of Dover. Andy West and Darrel O’Connor, award-winning sandcastle builders, donated their time and talent to build a giant sandcastle, teaching the kids and adults how it’s done.

The winning painting at the inaugural Paint Dover! art event on Oct. 4 was by Lewes pastel artist Siobhan Duggan, called “Cross Section,” capturing the intersection of State and Loockerman streets in a multitude of colors and cast shadows of the afternoon sun.

Drop cloths, donated by Milford Ace Hardware, along with tubs of paint so attendees could paint with their feet. From a tiny 7-week old baby to a 93-year-old grandmother, everyone had fun getting paint between their toes.

The sidewalks of Park Avenue became a giant canvas of colored chalk.

In the evening, the Music School of Delaware, Milford Branch, opened its doors to our Painting with Light event. Local photographer John Mollura provided the colored lights and a cadre of photographers while the Music School provided the musicians. Attendees moved to the live music in a darkened room and created light “paintings” – photographs of the moving lights.

Urban Sketchers Delaware and The Big Draw Festival DE also held a sketch crawl at First State Dance Academy to Sketch Dancers in Motion! The sketchers loved sketching the dancers and the dancers were very interested to see what they had done.

“I have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable sketch crawls we’ve had. I loved the dancers and the choreography. I can’t wait to go back to see their show,” said Vivienne Cameron of New Castle.

Dover gets artful

Downtown Dover has also gotten into the act.

Twenty-four artists from around the region relished the chance to soak up the downtown scenery and paint outdoors in the inaugural Paint Dover! art event, which took place on Loockerman Street, The Green and spaces in-between on Oct. 4 as part of First Friday activities.

Store windows, law offices on The Green and street scenes were among the variety of images that the artists chose to document with paint, pastel and watercolor.

The winning painting by Lewes pastel artist Siobhan Duggan, called “Cross Section,” captured the intersection of State and Loockerman streets in a multitude of colors and cast shadows of the afternoon sun.

Two of downtown Dover’s merchants, Chef Ludovic Bezy of La Baguette Bakery, and Hassan Azhar, owner of Zuha Trend, both took some time from their businesses to paint in the event. Chef Bezy won an honorable mention for his depiction of State Street from The Green. Another local winner, Karen Grady, took first place in the amateur category for her pen/ink and watercolor depiction of a church on State Street.

Other activities at this year’s Big Draw Festival in Milford have included sidewalk chalk art, feet painting on a large canvas and mandala painting on the side of the Mispillion Art League.

Ted Werner, his wife Andi and colleague George Del Farno, director of Strategic Initiatives, made up the judging team of sponsor PAM Rehabilitation Hospital of Dover, and selected their favorite two paintings from the more than 35 downtown scenes to choose from.

“It was quite a challenge to select from the variety of scenes created by a group of such talented artists, but our team finally came to consensus,” Mr. Werner said.

One of their selectees, Maggii Sarfaty, said she enjoyed the architecture and friendly residents and made some new friends while in Dover.

Several merchants expressed their pleasure with having the artists in the city and hope to make it an annual event.

“Paint Dover created positive vibes all over downtown,” said Erin Thwaites, of The Loocke and Bel Boutique.

Gary Knox, of Forney’s Too, who was the winner of the Downtown Dover Partnership Merchant Committee’s window decorating contest, was also happy that art invaded Dover for a day.

“This will really help downtown’s reputation as a viable center for art and commerce for local, and not-so-local, families,” Mr. Knox said.

His “arts/harvest” theme depicting a painted pumpkin on canvas on an easel in front of a white mini-picket fence was chosen as “Best Merchant Window” by Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen and his wife, Cindy.

The public is invited to see images of this month’s decorated merchant windows and vote for their favorite through Wednesday, Oct. 30 by visiting:

Shown with the newly created mandala in front of the Mispillion Art League in Milford is Rosemary Connelly, who chaired the Big Draw along with Sonja Frey.

Diane Laird, executive director of the Downtown Dover Partnership, said that encouraging the arts is important in order to have a vibrant downtown community.

“The arts — whether musical and performing, literary, visual, culinary or other — all have the opportunity to touch people in unique ways,” Ms. Laird said. “In downtown Dover we have made the arts an ongoing centerpiece of First Fridays because making the arts accessible to all walks of life can bridge gaps and provide opportunities otherwise not accessible in a community setting.

“And whether creating or performing art, learning new skills, or watching and enjoying art, people can move or be moved from the day to day, the mundane, the ‘analytical left brain’ to enjoy the more creative and imaginative right-brain activities. The arts truly help to bring color and rhythm and fun to a setting where everyone can participate. And who doesn’t want to have fun?”

Final Big Draw event

Along with classes throughout the month, Mispillion’s last free family-friendly event will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with Imagination Stations at the art league and a variety of fun activities for kids.

Jerry’s Artarama of Newark will be bringing a mini Trade Show to the art league and artists from the area are welcome to stop by and purchase art supplies at Mispillion Art League, 5 N. Walnut St., Milford.

For more information about The 2019 Big Draw Festival classes and events, visit

Staff writer Mike Finney contributed to this story.

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