Is painting on location one of the draws? You betcha.

by Carl Bretzke

Don’t take it from us — hear it from one of plein air painting’s stars. The Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE) is the place to be in April.

Here are Carl Bretzke’s Top 10 Reasons for Attending PACE.

It’s no secret that most of us are curious, if not outright interested, as to what the convention has to offer. The upcoming convention in San Diego will be my fifth, and I go willingly. In fact, I really love going. Besides, I think my wife actually needs a break sometimes (reason #10…give your spouse a break).

I believe I become a better painter as a result of the random tips I pick up while painting alongside professional artists and watching their demos (#9…lots of demos and personal help during paint-outs). I also get random tips from onlookers, including the standard favorites such as: “Are you an artist?” or “You’ve got paint on your pants” or “Get a real job.” I focus on the painting tips.

Burn your less successful paintings, or just get warm by the beach — your choice.
Burn your less successful paintings, or just get warm by the beach — your choice.

Over the years I’ve managed to (#8…make good friends) with other painters and staff that I have met at the conventions. We ramble on about color and value as though it was normal conversation or something. (I think that works for #7…the ability to talk about painting without boring others.)

Shenanigans onstage make for demos you’ve never imagined.
Shenanigans onstage make for demos you’ve never imagined.

When you go to the convention, don’t think you won’t buy something new. You will. And you should, because the vendors almost always offer some fantastic deal (#6). At the same time, the vendors can actually answer my dumb questions about why and how their products work (#5).

Heroes of the plein air painting world share their secrets — and commiserate about its challenges.
Heroes of the plein air painting world share their secrets — and commiserate about its challenges.

Anyway, go to the convention if you can, and remember that the money you spend is easily rationalized if you remind yourself that you are probably getting the equivalent of 10-20 workshops for less than the price of one, not to mention the free pastries and coffee before the lectures. (That was at least #4 and #3.)

Occasionally, the participants literally embrace the plein air “spirits.”
Occasionally, the participants literally embrace the plein air “spirits.”

If you are like me, you sincerely enjoy great slide shows and inspirational talks. I’ve been fortunate to see many at past conventions. The added bonus is then meeting and talking to some of these great artists and discovering that they are normal folks like you or me (or at least like you). So I guess that was #2.

Now a cliche drum roll … camera zooms in … and now I can imagine Eric Rhoads walks on stage in some crazy outfit and says: “And the number one (#1) reason to go to the Plein Air Convention is… Hangin’ with the homeboys” (or homegirls or whatever).