From Mark Shasha's demo
From Mark Shasha's demo

Enjoy a recap of Plein Air Live, an unforgettable event for artists of all levels and styles of painting, with a focus on the landscape.

Plein Air Live kicked off with our Beginner’s Day on March 9, 2022, offering introductory sessions on everything that new artists should know, and great refreshers for even the seasoned pros. We began with Eric Rhoads taking us on a tour through his plein air suitcase and backpack (he even shared an exclusive link to a bonus session on easels for plein air artists).

Then, we enjoyed sessions from each of the artists highlighted below, as well as extra presentations with some of our amazing sponsors: Blick Art Materials, Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, and Savoir-Faire.

It was said that this was “without a doubt the best first day, ever” of Plein Air Live! Here’s a glimpse at Beginner’s Day:

A scene from Dan Marshall's Plein Air Live demo, "Drawing with a Brush"
A scene from Dan Marshall’s Plein Air Live demo, “Drawing with a Brush”

Working in the art studio can help you become more confident when you’re painting on location, said Dan Marshall in our first session on Beginner’s Day. He added that there are many benefits to plein air as well, of course.

“The idea of plein air painting to me, is … it’s the most important thing for your growth as an artist; to be able to see different tones, identify different colors, [composing a scene] … you get all of that experience and enjoyment.”

From "Composition" with Jim Wodark
From “Composition” with Jim Wodark

In a composition class geared toward beginners, Jim Wodark explained how to get started once you have your paints, brushes, and canvas ready to go. “The composition is the basis you can start on, which makes a really great painting or a really bad painting,” he said. The best question you can ask yourself as you begin is, “Why am I painting?”

From "Color Fundamentals" with John Pototschnik
From “Color Fundamentals” with John Pototschnik

John Pototschnik let us know that the good thing about being a beginner is that you haven’t developed any bad habits yet. In his session, he addressed:
1. The “inseparable” relationship between value and color
2. How to discern a color value
3. What happens to color and value as it recedes
4. The importance of using a limited palette

From "Plein Air in Oil" with Mary Garrish
From “Plein Air in Oil” with Mary Garrish

“Going out and observing nature, painting nature, sketching nature … that is the way that we open our eyes,” Mary Garrish said. “We are so lucky as artists, that our eyes are open, because we see so much of the real world – so much more than people who aren’t artists.”

From "Plein Air in Gouache" with Tiffanie Mang
From “Plein Air in Gouache” with Tiffanie Mang

Gouache is the go-to medium for San Diego artist Tiffanie Mang, who taught us how to create a plein air painting in gouache by tackling a “simplish” beach scene. “I love [gouache] and I’m still learning so much about it to this day,” she said. “Gouache is such a versatile medium – you can almost apply it like watercolor or you can paint it really thick, almost like acrylic or oil.”

From "Plein Air in Acrylic" with Jed Dorsey
From “Plein Air in Acrylic” with Jed Dorsey

“One of the things I love about painting outside is that you never know where the next painting is going to come from,” Jed Dorsey said. He took the camera along as he scouted a location, and walked us through the items you should have with you, the colors he uses on his palette, and so much more.

From "Plein Air in Watercolor" with Thomas Bucci
From “Plein Air in Watercolor” with Thomas Bucci

Watercolor painter Thomas Bucci began his session by sharing his plein air setups, including his tripod easel and his easy-to-use, DIY “easel desk.” He then took us through an incredible demo on how to paint a landscape, starting with a sketch to locate the major shapes of the composition.

From "Plein Air in Pastel" with Susan Kuznitsky
From “Plein Air in Pastel” with Susan Kuznitsky

Joining us from Portland, Oregon, Susan Kuznitsky shared how to do a pastel setup for plein air painting, including a mini-tour of what she always takes and why. One of her tips: Do not skimp on your tripod.

Susan then gave us a pastel painting demonstration of a quaint window flower box scene.

From "Painting Outside" with Bill Inman
From “Painting Outside” with Bill Inman

Cold weather doesn’t stop Bill Inman from at least starting a work en plein air. For his demo, Bill painted a plein air study in an hour when the temperature was only 15 degrees, then brought the work inside to finish in the studio. His lesson included clips from his plein air study as well as his studio work.

“Even if you’re just getting started,” Bill said in his final words of motivation for new painters, “You can do it.”

We closed Beginner’s Day with our Cocktail Hour and Paint Along, where we chatted over Zoom while painting a quiet landscape scene with distant hills and clouds.

Did you miss these sessions? Replays are available at!

Highlights from Day 1 of Plein Air Live

On our official Day 1 of Plein Air Live, we welcomed more first-time attendees and seasoned pros who returned for their third year of this unforgettable event.

Today’s sessions included John Cosby, Daniela Astone, T. Allen Lawson, Nancie King Mertz, Anna Rose Bain, and Roger Dale Brown, all hosted by Eric Rhoads and Kelly Kane.

We’d like to thank our wonderful sponsors for supporting this event, and for sharing exclusive bonus sessions with us as well! Special thanks today go to Blick Art Materials (featuring Joe Gyurcsak), the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, Savoir-Faire (featuring Keiko Tanabe), and Golden Art Materials.

Eric Rhoads - Plein Air Live
Our fearless leader – Publisher and CEO Eric Rhoads in mid-dance (we have FUN at our events!)
A moment from John Cosby's demo
A moment from John Cosby’s demo

Using a photo reference and a 6 x 8 value study, John Cosby walked us how to simplify what’s before you to create a larger, 12 x 16-inch painting in oil.

Interesting side note: At 18 John was chosen as an Advance Man for the Executive Branch of the US Government, where he served under two Presidents and traveled the world.

From Daniela Astone's demo
From Daniela Astone’s demo

Daniela Astone grew up in Italy, studying art as a teenager and moving to Florence to study illustration, and later drawing and painting from life at The Florence Academy of Art under the direction of Daniel Graves. In her Plein Air Live demo, she explained how she paints a landscape that includes a tree in the foreground with a house and more greenery in the background.

From T. Allen Lawson's demo
From T. Allen Lawson’s demo

We enjoyed an educational presention from T. (Tim) Allen Lawson on how to make your paintings stronger, the major differences between a painting and a work of art, and much more.

From Nancie King Mertz's demo
From Nancie King Mertz’s demo

Known for her incredible Chicago paintings, Nancie King Mertz shared her advice for painting a building by integrating the windows in a way that works, without painting every single window that’s there in reality.

From Anna Rose Bain's demo
From Anna Rose Bain’s demo

As a professional artist and a mother, Anna Rose Bain knows how to make the most of precious time. Anna demonstrated a studio painting that was based on a 20-minute color study she did of her son while on a beach vacation. She inspired us with the reminder that you can incorporate your art into everyday life, and even include your children or grandchildren in your painting practice.

From Roger Dale Brown's demo
From Roger Dale Brown’s demo

Eric introduced Roger Dale Brown as “a passionate observer of every aspect of nature, and that’s something you can see very clearly in his paintings.” And that we did – Roger painted a landscape scene of the Greenbrier River in West Virginia.

Two of his points included:
– The key to a great painting is being economical with your brush strokes.
– You don’t have to use a color just because you mixed it.

Highlights from Day 2 of Plein Air Live

Every event we host includes surprises and memorable moments and this week has been no different, including when we had a special visit from one of our Plein Air community friends!

And, of course, we want to thank today’s special presentation sponsors: Laguna Plein Air Painters Association; Savoir-Faire (featuring Richard Lindenberg), Blick Art Materials (featuring Jed Dorsey), and Royal Talens North America (featuring Tim Horn).

Here’s a recap of what we saw and learned on Day 2:

Friend and artist Barbara Tapp with Eric Rhoads
Friend and artist Barbara Tapp with Eric Rhoads
A moment from Anne Blair Brown's demo
A moment from Anne Blair Brown’s demo

Plein air isn’t about going outdoors and “nailing” a painting for many, including Anne Blair Brown. In her “Plein Air to Studio” demo, Anne shared her preliminary process – a five-minute step that she says greatly increases the success of her paintings; and much more.

From Dave Santillanes's demo
From Dave Santillanes’s demo

Dave Santillanes said he relies on his 20 years of plein air painting experience to be able to now paint from a photo reference when his life as a father gets busy. “I’ve always worked with photos,” he said, “but plein air painting has allowed me to reanalyze photos in terms of plein air concepts.”

From Jacob Dhein's demo
From Jacob Dhein’s demo

Painting from a beach with boats in the foreground and background, Jacob Dhein explained his process for toning the background, sketching the initial design, and more.

From Ryan Jensen's demo
From Ryan Jensen’s demo

Coming to us en plein air from a foggy boat dock in California, Ryan Jensen used an old canvas with an underpainting to “just dive in” and create a work. In addition to technique, he also included motivation, reminding us that when it comes to painting en plein air, the only mistake is to not start.

From Bill Davidson's demo
From Bill Davidson’s demo

What is it that artists struggle with most? Bill Davidson explained that it’s color, value, and color harmony, partly because “once you put one color on, it changes the appearance of all the other colors.”

Bill shared the easiest, simplest way to nail your color. Here’s a sneak peek at the type of Q&A exchange we saw in the running chat throughout all of Plein Air Live – this is between a participating artist and Bill during his demo:

Q: If sunlight is hitting rocks (warm) then shadows will be cooler. Correct?
A: Yes, if direct sunlight, the majority of shadow will be cooler, but way up in there is usually touch of warm that is so well covered up the blue sky is not falling on it. Sargent solved this by putting warm and cools in shadows, more cool in a warm light.

From John Crump's demo
From John Crump’s demo

Joining us from New Zealand, John Crump used only #12 flat brushes for his actual painting, using a small No. 2 rigger only for small details.

Some favorite moments from our audience: the fluidity of John’s brushstrokes, the gradations that he formed, and his confidence and wisdom.

As we rounded out the evening, one attendee had this to say: “This has been another awesome day of plein air and artistic talent! Thank you SO much to everyone, especially the artists and staff. Signing off now for another commitment this evening. Have fun and see everyone tomorrow!” ~Betsy

Highlights from Day 3 of Plein Air Live

On the last day of Plein Air Live, the techniques and inspiration were still rolling at full steam with even more demonstrations and camaraderie. We want to thank all of our amazing attendees, faculty, and sponsors for helping us make this such a success that …


We’re thrilled to announce the 4th Annual Plein Air Live!


Seriously – we hope to see you there with us again (or for the first time!). Visit for all the details, and register now to get your early bird discount.

Until then, enjoy this recap of Day 3 from Plein Air Live 2022:

Our gracious hosts, Eric Rhoads and Kelly Kane
Our gracious hosts, Eric Rhoads and Kelly Kane
A moment from Kim VanDerHoek's demo
A moment from Kim VanDerHoek’s demo

Kim VanDerHoek gave us a demo on how to paint a beautiful vineyard scene using a plein air study as a reference. Toward the end of her lesson, she showed us where to add thick, juicy palette knife work, as well as how to place strategic details to finish your painting.

From Lori McNee's demo
From Lori McNee’s demo

Painting from her family farm along the Snake River in southern Idaho, Lori McNee gave us a demo on how to use watermixable oils en plein air, including tips for painting in cold weather.

From Mark Shasha's demo
From Mark Shasha’s demo

Working on a 12 x 16-inch panel, Mark Shasha led us through the basic elements that make up a landscape painting. He used a photo reference of a meandering boardwalk on Martha’s Vineyard to demonstrate how to create a successful foreground, middle ground, and background; and explained concepts like linear and atmospheric perspective.

Keiko Tanabe painting on location
Keiko Tanabe painting on location

With a historic California Mission as her subject, Keiko Tanabe’s painting began a few days prior when she visited the site to make some initial sketches, to develop a sense of familiarity with the place, and to understand the light.

From Richard Robinson's demo
From Richard Robinson’s demo

Richard Robinson explained how (and why) he creates a digital sketch before starting a painting. He chose a scene from Sandy Bay in New Zealand, including a glimpse of a Pohutukawa tree. After walking us through the setup, Richard went on to demo a landscape using expressive brushwork and bold color.

In the image above, you can see Richard putting the final strokes on the tree: a touch of the red flowers that bloom at Christmas-time on the Pohutukawa.

From Kevin Macpherson's demo
From Kevin Macpherson’s demo

When high winds on a Taos, New Mexico mountainside interfered, Kevin Macpherson chose to paint alongside a river for his demo. The temperature was about 20 degrees during his painting session, so in addition to tips and techniques, he explained a brilliant way to use an unexpected item of clothing to keep your hand warm while holding a brush.

Hello to our friends from the Day 3 Happy Hour!
Hello to our friends from the Day 3 Happy Hour!

Thanks again to everyone who came to Plein Air Live this year. We hope you’ve left inspired, and ready to paint outdoors!

“Awesome from start to finish. Even the things that I didn’t think I’d be interested in were such a learning experience!” ~ Robyn

Remember to sign up for the 4th Annual Plein Air Live now at! We’ll see you there!


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