Delight. That is the sentiment that best describes the reaction of attendees at the Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE).
The organizers of the convention — Eric Rhoads and the Streamline crew — created an atmosphere in a beautiful resort in which plein air painters can comfortably learn, network, and paint their rear ends off in a ravishing setting. Last year, the Plein Air Convention was held in Monterey, California, a place long revered by plein air painters. This year the assembled took to the Sonoran Desert, and explored the golden light and dramatic rocks — and the challenging forms of cactus and desert vegetation.

Eric Rhoads, the publisher of PleinAir magazine, and faculty member R. Gregory Summers

Indoors, the ballrooms of El Conquistador Resort were standing-room-only for presentations by Matt Smith, Dean Mitchell, Jean Stern, and the dynamic trio of Kathryn Stats, Linda Tippetts, and Rachel Warner.

Jane Hunt paints a demo.

Demonstrations drew folks to rooms dedicated to watercolor and pastel, and oil painting demos were conducted as well. Field instructors ventured out to help those painting on the grounds of the resort and beyond. One happy painter won $15,000 in the PleinAir Salon (see above in this e-newsletter), and Dean Mitchell won a Lifetime Achievement award (full coverage of that in the next issue of PleinAir Today). The convention also took the opportunity to honor Ken Auster, an enormously influential California painter who passed away in January.

Artists on location in Tucson

George Gallo painting a demo

From the very beginning, there was a sense that something special was happening. Lori Woodward Simons described the opening ceremony: “While we filed into the auditorium and found our seats, we were serenaded by the folk-singing duo of Slimpickins and Miss Maybell, a.k.a. artists Erik Koeppel and Lauren Sansaricq. This was followed by a sing-along tribute to Eric Rhoads to the tune of ‘Home on the Range.’ Next came a Native American woman paying the flute. Now the mood was calm and serious, thanks to her mournful and melodic tune. While she played, we saw images of the Southwestern landscape on the big screens to the right and left of the stage. Then she offered us a solemn prayer, first in English and then in the Navajo language.”

Eric Rhoads and Lee Milteer talk marketing at a Boot Camp session.

Dean Mitchell accepts a Lifetime Achievement Award from Eric Rhoads.

In contrast, the early-morning Boot Camp sessions were upbeat and energetic. Lee Milteer joined Eric Rhoads in explaining how painters can quit their jobs and paint full-time. Woodward Simons reports, “Milteer explained how we buy into this mindset that other people have skills and talents we don’t have. She said she was an introvert, but now she’s a functional extrovert. She also asserted that money means options and freedom. With money, there is less stress to pay bills. No one is going to take care of you, so be anything but average.

Casey Baugh paints on the exhibition floor.

“Her advice included this: ‘You have to have something that makes people remember you. Don’t be like everybody else. Your mindset is everything. Nothing happens until you get your mindset under control.’”

You are never too young to attend PACE.

See next week’s PleinAir Today for continued coverage of PACE.


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