The wispy clouds depicted against blue sky on several of the canvases displayed at the 39th annual Westport Fine Arts Festival on Saturday were almost indistinguishable from the real clouds and sky furnished by Mother Nature's paint brush.

Festival organizers breathed a sigh of relief considering they could have faced the brutally hot temperatures and temperamental stormy weather of mid-week that would have chased away artists and audience. Instead, they anticipate about 10,000 people will wander the grounds of the two-day festival, which continues Sunday under more sunny skies downtown at Parker Harding Plaza and Gorham Island to enjoy the creativity of 138 visual artists and, for the first time, crafters.

"This is the first year we have allowed high-end crafts. We have jewelry, ceramics, glass, fiber art, wood, (and digital art) in addition to (long-standing categories) oil painting, watercolor, photography, sculpture," said Cathy Colgan, events producer for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, sponsor of the event. It also features musical performances, hands-on art activities for children and adults, and strolling entertainers.

Daniel Adelman, 9, and his sister Becca, 7, of Newton, Mass., enjoyed their encounter with mime Mark Mindek, of Manhattan Performing Arts, who was dressed in white from head-to-toe and posed as a living statue throughout the day from his post alongside the Saugatuck River. The children said they also enjoyed seeing the giant sculptures by Dale Rogers, which are positioned on the bridge to Gorham Island, and adding their own artistic expressions to a white Mercedes vehicle, supplied by Dragone Classic Motorcars, which has a showroom in Westport.

"It's a wonderful event. We come every year," said Jim Adelman of Westport, the children's grandfather.

"I like cars. I painted a Dodge once, but not a Mercedes," said George Kane, 13, of Westport, as he applied a stenciled design in neon green paint to the roof of the car.

Vintage cars figured prominently in the work of artist Chris Osborne of New Milford, known as "the painter of legends." Some of her paintings featured at the Westport Fine Arts Festival include familiar faces like James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Duke Ellington, and Westport's own Paul Newman. In her painting of the late actor and philanthropist, Newman leans up against a race car.

While most of the artwork was off limit to touch, Charleston, S.C., artist Gerardo Leccese encouraged people to run their fingers across his mixed media, three-dimension artwork. "That's the fun of it," Leccese said.

The weather, the setting and the quality of the art were on the mind of many at the event.

Painter and sculptor Michael Patterson of Roxbury said he has participated in the festival for many years dating back to when it was held on Main Street. "There's art intellect here. There's people who are art savvy, who have art awareness," Patterson said, adding that those who attend the festival and purchase the art are not looking for pretty pictures to hang on the wall. Rather, he said, they are knowledgeable in the language of art.

Liz Smith of New Fairfield called the art represented in the festival "unique and engaging. It's a nice mix of things." Smith said she especially liked Nathan Murrell's mixed-media art and the paintings of Luke Stretar.

"We came to this last year and we'll come to it every year. We love it, the uniqueness of it, and we love fine art," said Arlene Weiss of Mahwah, N.J., who attended the festival with her husband, Ken Weiss. They especially admired a large painting titled "In the Sunroom" by Tung Lee. "It's very peaceful, tranquil," Arlene Weiss said.

The same was said of the festival location.

"What a place to have a show here with this river and breeze," said Roberta Coogan of Middlefield, from the booth of glass artists Kurt and Lynda Carlson, of Middlesex, N.J.

"It's a lovely site and it's pleasant. Look at this beautiful view I have," said Julie Leff of Weston, a third-time participant in the festival where she had on display her colorful original oils and Giclee prints.

South Carolina artist Hans Peterson is generally opposed to doing tent shows but his wife Barbara Koller entered him into the juried Westport show and he was selected to participate. He wasn't sorry.

"It's beautiful," he said of his booth's location on Gorham Island and of the show itself.

"I'm very impressed. It's beautiful, and high-quality. The setting is gorgeous. Can you imagine a better setting?," said Trista Depp Chapman, a ceramic artist and first time participant in the Westport Fine Arts Festival. Her boyfriend Mark Seay marveled at the weather. "It's like a spring day," Seay said.

"What a day," said William McCarthy of Hamden, who describes his paintings as atmospheric landscapes, some images of "something remembered," others of "something dreamed."

The Westport Fine Arts Festival continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the festival is free. Food, wine and beer will also be available at the festival. Visit for information.