As you read this, many of us are still feeling the thrill of being part of the world’s largest plein air event, the Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE). This year we welcomed artists from all over the world, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and two new countries for PACE: Taiwan and Iceland! We hope you enjoy this recap of some of our favorite moments, and that you’ll join us next year in Denver, Colorado!
Pre-Convention – The Day Before
Plein air painters began pouring into San Francisco for the Plein Air Convention & Expo on Tuesday, April 23, when we kicked off with Joseph McGurl, one of the most sought-after and influential landscape artists currently working in America. As McGurl’s workshop took place, attendees, faculty, and exhibitors continued to sign in for their first, second — up to their eighth PACE! There were many hugs as friends reunited for another week of painting and learning together in this, a supportive atmosphere with the best of the best.
Day 1: Wednesday Highlights
Artists were still streaming in from all over the world as we celebrated Day 1 of PACE. The morning began with a new version of the Plein Air Basics Course for those who are new to painting outdoors, and a special workshop from Joseph Zbukvic, who came from Australia to teach an engaged audience (he is fascinating to watch).
In two moving tributes, Zbukvic and pastelist Albert Handell received Lifetime Achievement Awards (watch these on our Facebook Live feed here).
Keynote speaker Joseph Paquet spoke about finding your authentic vision in a lecture that inspired us all. And to keep the energy up, Eric had us dancing — yes, dancing! — in the aisles and on stage, including a very lucky handful of folks who won our raffle and had reason to celebrate … one attendee won a painting trip to Fall Color Week at Ghost Ranch this year!
Over 100 people, most of whom are attending PACE for the first time, gathered for the Newcomers Orientation & Friend Finder. It was amazing to see how many people traveled to PACE by themselves. They all immediately recognized the one really cool thing they had in common with their soon-to-be new friends — they all love to paint! Instant friendships, ride sharing, a run-through of how things work at the convention, and BOOM, it was off to the Grand Opening Ceremony! At PACE, there is no need to worry that you’ll feel lonely!
Day 2: Thursday Highlights
Thursday brought us two dozen seminars, demos, and painting sessions! It was a whirlwind of education, inspiration, and shopping in the Expo Hall (one of the benefits of being here is being able to talk directly with the manufacturers of some of your favorite painting tools).
A favorite quote from Thursday: “There’s no such thing as cheating in watercolor — it’s OK to use white paint! It’s about making great art.” — Brenda Swenson (thank you, Matthew Bird, for sharing this one with us!)
Additional Highlight: Artist and Google manager Suma CM joined us at PACE to lead a seminar on urban sketching, which is a fun way to quickly capture a scene, typically in ink and watercolor (colored pencils and other drawing tools often find their way into the mix). She advises us to take our sketchbooks everywhere and find hidden moments to draw, such as when waiting in line or during a meal. Suma even sketches while her husband tows her in a kayak! She says you’ll never run out of water when doing this — but don’t take a brush you’re afraid to lose!
Additional Highlight: During a Q&A in Cynthia Rosen’s palette knife painting demo, “More Than What Meets the Eye,” she explained why she paints with so much color: “Well, I’ve lived a very beige, conservative life, but now I’m FREE!” Cynthia went to a chocolate festival in Arizona and brought a folding stool, a gallon of water, and a little canvas when she first began painting in plein air. She tells us, “I painted and then I got to eat chocolate. Oh, THIS is plein air — chocolate and painting outdoors!” Sounds great to us, Cynthia!
Stay tuned for more highlights coming soon!
And if you joined us this year, share some of your favorite moments below!