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Above: Nancy Brossard painting along the Deer River Flow

In 2020, the Adirondack Plein Air Festival is really living up to its name. The participating artists had no trouble being socially distant and enjoyed the opportunity to paint throughout the entire six-million acre Adirondack Park (that’s three times the size of Yellowstone!).

More from the organizers:

Normally, as has happened the previous 11 years, participating plein air artists all congregated in the Saranac Lake area for a week of painting. The culminating event was a Show & Sale held in the Town Hall that attracted hundreds. This year, instead of accepting 50 artists, the number was reduced to 35 and out of state travel and overnight trips were discouraged.

Artists were not required to come to Saranac Lake, but could paint anywhere within “the Blue Line,” the official boundary of the park. The painters literally recorded views in every corner of the park, including some of the mountaintops. Artists who couldn’t do day trips made good use of campgrounds or stayed with friends.

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Daniel Fisher’s set up at Schroon Lake

Because of Covid-19 restrictions, Saranac Lake ArtWorks is hosting a six-week online Plein Air Festival Show & Sale instead of the two-day show in the Town Hall. Many of the paintings sold in the first few hours.

And the Awards Go To…

Our Awards Juror, California artist Richard Lindenberg, selected the prize winners remotely, via the internet. Plein Air Festival veteran Kari Ganoung Ruiz, of Interlaken, NY was awarded the $1000 First Place prize, which also includes a 1/4 page ad in Plein Air Magazine, (valued at $1200), a $150 gift package from Gamblin Paints, and merchandise from Ampersand Bords.

Her painting of boats on Lake Flower, titled “Morning Sparkle,” was praised by the Juror: “This painting snuck up on me after viewing all the entries. It has a mystical feel and evokes a fantastic sense of place. It’s technically very well executed. Wonderful receding values, excellent proportions and drawing, unusual color palette, and the story of paddling the waterway put me in the canoe on a camping trip in the Adirondacks.” Kari has previously won prizes in the Adirondack event, but this is her first time winning first place.

Plein air painting
Kari Ganoung Ruiz, “Morning Sparkle,” oil, 6 x 11 in.
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Kari Ganoung Ruiz painting on the shore of Lake Flower

Another veteran and second-time winner, George Van Hook of Cambridge, NY, was selected for the $750 Founders “Spirit of the Wilderness” Award, donated by AdkAction. His painting, “Adirondack Cast,” showed a trout fisherman and was painted somewhere along the Sacandaga River.

The $500 Third Place Award, also donated by AdkAction, was given to event newcomer Jim Laurino from Connecticut, for his colorful painting of the community of Brant Lake.

A $250 Prize donated by Community Bank was awarded to Chrissy Pahucki, for a painting of Hickock’s Boat Livery. Chrissy comes from New Hampton, NY and often brings a prize home.

A $200 prize donated by Paul Smiths College was awarded to Rochester artist Kathy Armstrong for “Morning in the Marsh,” which was painted at the Paul Smith’s College VIC.

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Kari Ganoung Ruiz painting on the shore of Lake Flower

Honorable Mentions went to Indian Lake artist Sarah Yeoman and Kari Ganoung Ruiz was recognized for her nocturne painting of the Harrietstown Town Hall at midnight.

Additional scenes from the plein air painting event:

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Patrick McPhee painting at Buck Pond
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Dennon Walantus painting the Saranac River
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Jerry Russell was set up out in Buck Pond
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Sandra Hildreth at the Deer River Flow
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Mitchell Saler painting the Jay covered bridge and the Ausable River

The 2020 Festival is expected to take place in the traditional format, August 16 – 21, 2021. For more information, visit

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