Plein air painting trips -
A scene from one of our previous Publisher's Invitationals in the Adirondacks

In a few weeks, a diverse group of artists will be making their way into the Adirondack Mountains in northeastern New York. Because I believe it’s important to invest in your creative pursuits, including educating yourself and occasionally tuning out of the day-to-day for a trip like this, I reached out to some of the artists who are going. I admire them for their dedication to their art, and I think you will, too.

Artist Retreats -

Matt Borax (from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) is a veteran who just recently began painting — he picked up the brush about eight months ago. This is his first time attending a Publisher’s Invitational, but he says, “As soon as I became interested in plein air, I knew I wanted to attend this event,” and that because he is so new to painting, he “was very attracted to the ‘no competition/no sale’ concept of this event.”

For those unaware, the Adirondacks retreat truly focuses on the equality of the artists there, no matter their level of experience. Painting and relaxing are the name of the game. “I’m really looking forward to hanging out in this community with a bunch of like-minded people doing what we love, letting go, and creating,” Matt said. “I’m excited to be able to paint all day, make new connections, learn, grow, and simply enjoy the outdoors. I work with a veterans’ charity and one of the healing methods we’re exploring is art. I’ll be exploring this healing side while I’m out there too. Can’t wait for this exciting week!”

Artist Retreats -

For long-time artist Shirley Akers (from Topeka, Kansas), seeing rural upstate New York is one of the aspects she’s most excited about. She adds that painting on location and experiencing new adventures with new friends — without competition stress — is a highlight.

This will be Shirley’s first Publisher’s Invitational as well. “Since semi-retirement I have been looking for something [like this]. Travel and painting have always been on my bucket list for years. I didn’t care about more competition or selling; I just wanted to travel and paint with like-minded people. On other group trips, it’s difficult to sketch and paint in new places as I don’t want to hold up the travel group.

“Upon visiting Barnes and Noble and a few copies of Plein Air magazine later, there it was — the Publisher’s Invitational — exactly what I’d been hopeful to find. I also signed up and listen to Eric Rhoads’s PleinAir Podcasts, which are very inspiring. On many days, especially those snowy days this past winter, I would listen and paint in my own studio here in Kansas. I love to keep learning.”

Shirley adds, “I’m really looking forward to another adventure in life, and thank you for offering such.”

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Shirley Akers, “Finding Greener Pastures,” 2018-19, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30 in.

This is the second Publisher’s Invitational for Debbie Mattison of Sewickley, Pennsylvania. She says her favorite memories from the first one include meeting new friends and laughing together through all their adventures. “There are some things that don’t go to plan, including some paintings,” Debbie says. She adds that being able to paint every day and not think about anything else is what she’s most excited about, and that she “had such a wonderful time last year and learned so much just from hanging out with other artists.”

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Painting by Debbie Mattison
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Lea’s first plein air sketch of the creek in her sister’s front yard.

First-timer Lea Lichty from Columbia, Missouri, has been painting intermittently since she was about 16 years old (she’s now 63). Before learning how to paint with pastels just a few years ago, she was a wildlife photographer. She tells us that she’s most excited about visiting the beautiful Adirondacks, and said, “I am totally psyched about this trip! Let the adventure BEGIN!”

First-timer Denise Benko tells us that she is “so excited to have an entire week of ME TIME.” She goes on to say, “I am a part-time art instructor for adult education at the Medina County Career Center in my home town of Medina, Ohio, where I teach watercolor, oil, drawing, and pastel. I have painted for over 30 years between raising a family and teaching, and in that time have never had the opportunity to do something as wonderful as painting every day all day for an entire week without a care in the world. And what better place to gain inspiration than the Adirondacks. Looking forward to meeting everyone!”

Plein air artists
Artist and Publishers Invitational guest Thomas Zangerle

Retired art teacher Thomas Zangerle (from western New York state) is just as excited: “Having gone last year, it’s about all I can think about,” he says. “Meeting and painting with such a great group of folks is the reason for my excitement. I went last year not knowing anyone there, or even anyone who had ever attended . . . pure blind faith, one could say.”

Thomas adds, “Although I do sell a few paintings a year, I really don’t push myself to be a full-time artist. With new grandchildren and other hobbies to grab my attention these days, I still try and paint or at least draw a bit every day.

Plein air painting trips -
Artist retreats are a great time to reconnect with your passion for painting.

Last but not least, a few words from Patty Mabie, who has attended three Fall Color Weeks (the annual Publisher’s Invitational in Maine), and two Adirondack retreats with us. Patty is from Syracuse in upstate New York, and has been painting for about eight years. She tells us that she attends because “this is a great opportunity to paint in some beautiful locations, with old friends and new.”

“I love all of it — heading out for a day of painting with friends, swapping stories about palettes, workshops, our favorite easels, and looking at all the paintings at the end of the day,” she said. “My favorite memories from the Adirondacks are of the Flume and Norman Ridge Road — both amazing painting sites! And I’ve grown to love Maine from our trips there.

“I’ve learned so much from Plein Air magazine and the Plein Air Convention over the past five years. I have made a lot of new friends, and it has really helped me become a better artist.”

Patty concluded with something that I couldn’t have said better myself, so we’ll leave you with her words: “Dedicating the time to just painting is priceless.”

Plein air painting
Diane Crôteau (from Gatineau, province of Quebec, Canada) will be attending the Publisher’s Invitational for the third time this year. “I really enjoyed the camaraderie at the event, meeting all those great painters, seeing all the great paintings, and watching and learning how it is done,” she said. “I’m going again this year to learn more and try to improve on my technique, and to get a boost from the camaraderie for the coming summer.”
Plein air painting
Annette McGowan ( decided to make this artist retreat a birthday present to herself this year. She’s most excited about “seeing new, beautiful scenery and hanging out with some awesome artists.”
Plein air painting trips -
Eric Rhoads painting with friends during a previous Publisher’s Invitational artist retreat.

You’re invited to join us in the Adirondacks for a week of painting, relaxing, making new friends, and did I say painting? Visit to give yourself the artist retreat you deserve.

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  1. Thanks for the article on the Invitational in the Adirondacks!
    Also notice date for fall colours but it mentions Canadian Rockies?


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