Marco Island’s annual Wet Paint Live event raised more than $17,000, which is more than double last year’s amount, Thursday night.

The event, which celebrated its tenth year, is hosted by the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Marco, the Marco Island Center for the Arts and the Marco Island Foundation for the Arts.

This yeat’s event featured 21 artists; they picked up their canvases at 8 a.m. from the Chamber of Commerce, where members of the chamber stamped the back of each canvas to ensure that no artist could pull a “switcheroo,” the chamber’s Katie O’Hara said.

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Then the artists spread out across the island to paint “en plein-air,” with locations including Tigertail Beach, the Esplanade and Goodland. Most of the artists drew inspiration from their surroundings and painted the scenery in front of them, like William Moseley, who painted city hall, and David Klocke, who painted the boats and docks of Rose Marina.

Others, however, took a different approach and opted to create more abstract works of art, such as Donald Sunshine, who painted a splattering of bright, rainbow colors, and Victor-Hugo Vaca, Jr., who painted Chinese symbols of peace.

The artists turned in their paintings at 3 p.m., and then converged on Rose History Auditorium for drinks and hors d'oeuvres leading up to the live auction of their work. Prior to the auction, O’Hara encouraged bidders to raise their paddles “high and often,” and reminded them that they’re bidding on art that was made in a matter of hours.

“These painting were literally created in seven hours,” she said, “which is why this event is called Wet Paint; the canvases are still wet as we’re auctioning them off here tonight.”

The starting bid for all of the pieces was $250. Some of the paintings went for just above that, while a few hovered around the $1,000 mark. Most, however, were somewhere in the middle, fetching between $500 and $800.

Half of the money from the sales went back to the artists, while the other half went toward the chamber’s scholarship program that helps young adults further their education, however they chose to do so.

“They don’t have to be going to a four-year institution; they could be going to community college or trade school or technical school,” O’Hara said. “They could be training to be a mechanic or a cosmetologist or whatever, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they’re taking that step to further their education in some form or another,” she said to a smattering of applause.

Nancy Norman was one of the artists involved in this year’s Wet Paint Live; she’s been coming to Marco Island since she was 12 years old, and this was her third year participating in the event.

“Marco Island needs more community involvement, and this is a wonderful way to bring the community together,” she said. “It’s thrilling to see so many artists participate and so many bidders turn out for the auction.”

For those who were too timid to follow O’Hara’s advice to raise their paddles “high and often,” there was a silent auction featuring works that the artists – and other artists not included in the live auction – previously created.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dianna Dohm said the evening’s expenses are still trickling in, which is why she doesn't have an exact fundraising amount yet, but she said it's safe to say that the event was a “huge success.”

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