Plein air events
Alison Leigh Menke painting en plein air; image courtesy The Art League of Ocean City, MD

Spring is in full swing, and so are these in-person plein air painting opportunities. Check out these upcoming events from our Artists’ and Collectors’ Ultimate Guide to Painting Events and Organizations, as well as plein air exhibitions that are on view.

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May 2021 Plein Air Painting Events


Arts & The Park Festival
Dates: April 30 – May 9, 2021
Sponsoring Organization: Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance, Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs art festival 2021
Festival goers enjoy artist booths at Art Springs, the opening weekend of Hot Springs
Arts & The Park 10-day festival.


EXHIBITION: Art from the Trail: Exploring the Natural Beauty of Santa Barbara County
Dates: Saturdays through October 3, 2021
Sponsoring Organization: San Luis Obispo Painters for the Environment (SLOPE)
Venue: Wildling Museum of Art & Nature
Eleven paintings from SLOPE members have been juried into The Wildling Museum of Art and Nature’s exhibition, “Art from the Trail: Exploring the Natural Beauty of Santa Barbara County.” This show celebrates outdoor treasures on the Central Coast. A key goal of the exhibition, in partnership with Healthy People Healthy Trails and the Santa Barbara County Trails Council, is to raise awareness of the wealth of trails in Santa Barbara County and to inspire visitors and community members to explore them, while encouraging a healthier lifestyle.

Landscape painting of the Santa Maria Levee Trail
Dennis Curry, “River Walk,” oil, 8 x 16 in., Santa Maria River Trail; image courtesy of SLOPE


EXHIBITION: Expressive Plein Air Plus
Dates: May 7 – 28, 2021
Sponsoring Organization: Art League of Ocean City
Venue: Thaler Gallery at the Ocean City Center for the Arts
Painters Jim Rehak and Alison Leigh Menke will share the space, exhibiting their award-winning work in a show entitled “Expressive Plein Air Plus.” The Art League of Ocean City is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the visual arts to the community through education, exhibits, scholarship, programs and community art projects.

Plein air events
Jim Rehak painting en plein air; image courtesy The Art League of Ocean City, MD


Cape Ann Plein Air Festival
Dates: May 23–30, 2021
Opening Reception: May 23, 2021
Sponsoring Organization: Cape Ann Plein Air
Venue: Rockport Art Association, Essex Shipbuilding Museum, North Shore Arts Association, Cape Ann Museum, Manchester Historical Museum
Format: Juried
Juror of Awards: Hiu Lai Chong
Award Total: $24,000
Contact: Susan Coviello
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 978.837.8273
Held in the birthplace of American plein air; hosted in Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, and Manchester-by-the-Sea; Cape Ann Plein Air is a juried and judged competition that has become a favorite among artists. A rich art history colors the 400-year-old community and has been the muse for painting greats such as Homer, Lane, Hopper, Wyeth, Sargent, and Davis. Juried artists traveling to participate are provided housing, opportunities to mingle with each other and the public, dinners with organizers, opportunities to engage with local art organizations, and free access to world-class museums and theater.

New Mexico

Plein Air Painters 2021 Events
Dates: January 1–December 31, 2021
Sponsoring Organization: Plein Air Painters of New Mexico
Venue: Event venues will vary
City: Santa Fe, NM
Format: Combination
Contact: Elizabeth Cooper
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 720.933.4022

North Carolina

Plein Air New Bern
Dates: May 10-16, 2021
Venue: New Bern Farmers Market, and misc
All day, every day; 23 nationally acclaimed artists painting on location; fresh paintings displayed and sold daily


Paint the Town Streetfest
Dates: May 2–8, 2021
Sponsoring Organization: Highland Lakes Creative Arts
Venue: Lakeside Pavilion
City: Marble Falls, TX
Format: Juried
Juror of Awards: Mark Fehlman
Award Total: $12,000
Contact: Erin Hinzmann
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 512.970.8087
From May 2–May 8, 2021, 30 plein air artists from across the nation will be working in various mediums to capture outdoor sights and scenes of historic Marble Falls and the Texas Hill Country surrounding it. For the full week, an expansive exhibition, sales gallery, live demonstrations, a Quick Draw, sunrise and nocturne painting, a local student competition, and nationally recognized judge Mark Fehlman choosing the award winners.

Plein Air Southwest 2021
Dates: May 3–8, 2021
E-mail: [email protected]


Plein Air Roanoke
Dates: May 17–22, 2021
Opening Reception: May 21, 2021
Sponsoring Organization: The Little Gallery
Venue: Gallery 202, in Market Square
Format: Open
Juror of Awards: Mary Garrish
Award Total: $2,000+
Contact: Dana Phillips
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 540.759.4047
For five days, artists will paint picturesque Roanoke and sur-rounding areas including the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. Artists will be able to paint mountain vistas, rivers, lakes, and urban and transportation (train) scenes.
The event judge is Mary Garrish, past president of the American Impressionist Society, nationally exhibited artist, and past faculty of PACE and Plein Air South. Mary will conduct a workshop immediately preceding the event. PAR will include a Gala private sale, a “Wet Room,” a quick paint, artist events, and an open sale during the Saturday Farmer’s Market. This is an artist-focused event.

Canada / Ontario

Elora Plein Air Festival
Dates: May 20–23, 2021
E-mail: [email protected]


Coming in August: Pastel Live
August 19-21, 2021, with a Beginner’s Day on August 18
Sponsoring Organization: Plein Air Today / Streamline Publishing
To have 30 of today’s best artists show you exactly what they do to succeed will make Pastel Live THE most important 3 days you’ll ever invest in yourself and in your art. These artists will help you drastically improve your skills by demonstrating the methods and techniques that have taken them YEARS to master. There will be critiques, question and answer sessions, roundtable discussions, and group painting! Even if you’re not a pastel artist, this event will open your mind and expose you to even MORE techniques that could greatly improve your art.

Also check out the 2021 Artists’ Guide to Workshops, Schools, and Ateliers for even more opportunities.

Pastel Live banner


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