7th Annual Plein Air Convention - PACE 2018
Even I felt a little star-struck when getting to hang out with the likes of these ladies! From left to right: Me with Kathleen Hudson, Nancie King Mertz, and Brienne Brown

I’ll be honest with you. I wasn’t planning on writing my own recap of the Plein Air Convention — my first — but after so many memorable moments, it seems unfair that I wouldn’t share some of my favorites with you, especially if you were unable to join us this year. And for those who did make it — we probably met in person, either at the registration desk, the art gallery booth, or even on the dance club floor on the last night!

I knew to expect long days and lots of work, but I had no idea how much FUN this week would be. Even our entire staff had an absolute blast; the volunteers were amazing, and I’m happy to say that I came home with several newly-made friends after meeting almost every attendee in some way throughout the week.

Here is my “PACE in a nutshell” recap for you, including very public events and some behind-the-scenes fun, along with a few snapshots for your enjoyment.

7th Annual Plein Air Convention - PACE 2018
Throughout PACE, Eric took time to host several PleinAir Art Podcasts. Here, he’s speaking with Lori McNee, an artist I’ve long admired for her art and marketing skills.

Early in the mornings, Plein Air Publisher Eric Rhoads led an art marketing discussion in which he gave advice based on his years of experience, and answered audience questions. Here’s some of what he shared:
Q: Should artists have a logo and a tagline?
A: Yes, and a legible signature! He told us that “if your signature isn’t clear, you’re throwing away a marketing opportunity.”

7th Annual Plein Air Convention - PACE 2018
Attendees had the opportunity to meet some of their favorite plein air painters in Santa Fe last week. Like many of the instructors, Bill Davidson shook hands and answered questions after his main-stage demo.

As a Plein Air staff member, I quickly learned that while at PACE, it’s important to be flexible and to go with the flow. So when I was asked to introduce and/or thank our faculty on stage, I cleared my throat, straightened my shirt, and grabbed the closest microphone. Bill Davidson was one of the artists I provided the “outro” for, and so after I turned the mic off, I snapped this photo (above) of him getting stage rushed after his painting demonstration.

“The Breakfast Club,” (Jaime, me, and Roarke) aptly titled and taken by our new friend, Roarke Sharlow

The “Santa Fe Sweep”

Of course, it wasn’t all work and no play — when I had a free morning, I grabbed my colleague, Jaime, for a quick outing to see Old Town. On the shuttle from the hotel, we met Roarke, whose husband was attending a workshop. The three of us did a quick walking tour of the town, shopped (Jaime reassured me that I was “supporting the local economy” when I splurged on a pair of shoes that I knew I’d never find back home), and even enjoyed a delicious brunch at a shared table with others.

7th Annual Plein Air Convention - PACE 2018
All of our on-site staff helped man the convention stations, including the Plein Air Store, where attendees could purchase anything from faculty DVDs to broad-brimmed hats. From left to right: Christina, me, and Jennifer
Events for artists - PACE
On some evenings we would gather in the hotel lobby for an acoustic sing-along session. It was a wonderful nightcap!
Events for artists - PACE
I happened to be at the art gallery desk when Albert Handell sold a pastel demo he created on site. Before he left, I asked if I could take this picture of his wonderfully colorful hands.
Events for artists - PACE
Tim Horn is another artist I had the honor of introducing on the demo stage. This is a close-up of his palette just before he began his painting.
Painting outdoors - PACE
Bonus photo from PACE: “The Artist in the Sanctuary” by Roarke Sharlow (moosewalkstudios.com)

As I write the first draft of this very blog post, I’m about 37,000 feet in the air with a view of endless clouds. Even though I’m very much looking forward to getting back home to my husband and our sons, dogs, and chickens, I’m also excited about next year. I hope to see you there!

Yours in art,

1/17/20  update: The next Plein Air Convention is in Westminster, Colorado, near Denver. You can take a pre-convention workshop with Thomas Schaller or Scott Christensen. Book soon because as of this update, there are only 115 PACE tickets left! Visit pleinairconvention.com now to reserve your spot at the world’s largest plein air gathering.

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  1. Cherie, thank you for the peek into the other side of PACE18, the side where all the work gets done. Everyone on the staff couldn’t have been more welcoming and kinder, solving issues and comforting one and all. I am positive the professional and warm attitude trickles down from the top, yet takes a special group of people to take that trickle and turn it into a river. The PACE experience in Santa Fe was more than expected in every way, worth the time and expense and I can’t imagine another year matching this one. And I have a feeling San Francisco in 2019 will do just that. Thank you and everyone that created the perfect convention. Laura

    • You’re very kind, Laura – thank you for sharing your response with us. 🙂 The plan is to continue to out-do ourselves and to make each PACE better than the one before. Hoping to meet you at #PACE19!

  2. This was my first PACE and I before I left home in Minnesota, I was pretty intimidated. But everyone was so wonderful and welcoming and I met some fabulous new friends! And I learned so much through the demonstrations and the paint-outs! I can’t wait to be in San Francisco with everyone!

  3. It was my 1st PACE too. I couldn’t stop smiling at being surrounded by no one else but painters.
    I signed up for S.F. and signed up another friend , I knew she’d love it!
    We started painting together in Tokyo 2004! And we haven’t stopped learning in our respective countries , but plain air is new for us both.


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