As you read this, 100 plein air painters are soaking up the tropical air in Cuba, more than halfway through their week-long adventure in a country only recently opened to American citizens. Before they left, we checked in with a few of them to see what they were thinking.
The trip is the brainchild of Eric Rhoads, the publisher of PleinAir magazine. It’s dubbed Paint Cuba! Publisher’s Invitational, and it offers one of the first chances for painters to capture the beauty of Cuba — and maybe one of the last. “We wanted to capture Cuba in paint and preserve how it is in 2016,” says Rhoads. “As developers come in, Cuba will never be the same.”
The group is staying in Havana and painting the sights in Old Havana, along with excursions to the Cuban countryside and to quaint old fishing villages straight out of the pages of Ernest Hemingway’s fiction. Kathy Anderson, for one, was ecstatic about the chance.
“I have always wanted to go to Cuba,” she enthused. “It has been at the top of my list forever. The music, the colors, the food! I am so excited to be on this trip. It’s going to be amazing. I want to get there before Starbucks. But the most exciting thing for me is the tons of painting time. Paint and eat and dance! That’s what I am going to do.”
The list of prominent plein air painters on the trip is long, and it includes Shelby Keefe, Larry Moore, Charlie Hunter, Cesar Santos, and Michele Byrne. “There are many reasons why I’m excited to go to Cuba,” says Byrne. “First of all, I absolutely love an adventure. Secondly, I love painting old architecture, which is what I love about Europe. And most importantly, I think it is something that will never be the same again. I want to experience it now before things begin to change, and I want to meet the people and experience a bit of their culture.”
We’ll check in with the artists after the trip to find out what they discovered. Stay tuned!


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