Plein air painting events -
Juror Paul Kratter and artist Durre Waseem, 1st place winner at the 5th annual Kern County Plein Air Festival Gala. April 13, 2019. Photo by Marsalh Musaad

By Runa Lemminn

Kern County’s 5th Annual Plein Air Painting Festival celebrated the amazing scenic diversity of the county, with fourteen artists taking advantage of many different locales in which to paint.

The week’s events started off with an artist meet-and-greet at the Kern County historical museum. Artists painted on the grounds, and the general public was invited to meet the artists and watch them work. Other opportunities for the general public to meet the artists included a downtown Bakersfield event as well.

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Kern County Arts Council Executive Director David Gordon holds up Durre Waseem’s 1st place–winning painting at the Awards Gala on April 13, 2019. Photo by Marsalh Musaad

Besides the meet-and-greet events, artists had the opportunity to paint in vastly differing terrain in Kern County, which encompasses over 8,000 square miles. Whether it was on Tejon Ranch, a large and geographically diverse area, or in downtown Bakersfield, the artists had plenty of choices and stayed busy. Other locations included farmland with almond and citrus trees (Moore Farms), small towns, and the Kern Canyon.

The Kern Canyon lies east of Bakersfield, and the Kern River flows down that steep canyon. A popular whitewater rafting destination, the river is fast and treacherous. The canyon features cypress, pine, and juniper trees amongst others, with flowering plants such as water hemlock and asters. And Tejon Ranch, which lies south of Bakersfield, covers 270,000 square acres and boasts four different ecosystems.

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Artist Melanie Thompson, 3rd place winner, was adopted by a herd of curious horses as she painted outside Arvin, CA. Photo by Melanie Thompson on April 12, 2019

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The week brought many unexpected circumstances and challenges for the artists, including high winds, herds of curious horses investigating the painting, and separate encounters with a bull and a rattlesnake who were equally unamused.

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Artist Dan Schultz working on his painting that would wind up winning 2nd place at the Awards Gala. Photo taken in Hart Park, Bakersfield, on April 9, 2019 by Runa Lemminn

The week culminated with the Festival Gala, where many artists sold their work from over the week. Juror Paul Kratter awarded the prizes. Durre Waseem won 1st place, Dan Schultz won 2nd, and Melanie Thompson won 3rd. Artist Nate Ross won the Artist’s Choice award.

To see more about this year’s participating artists and their artwork, go to

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