Painting outdoors - Art in the Open
Images and text courtesy of Gerard Byrne

In its fourteenth year, the annual outdoor painting festival, “Art in the Open,” hosted 100 registered artists painting and capturing the stunning landscape of the Sunny South East, County Wexford in Ireland.

Plein air painting in Ireland

Each day artists were challenged to paint from an assigned paint out location; The North Slobs Wildfowl Reserve at the estuary of the River Slaney, the award winning Irish National Heritage Park at Ferrycarrig, and the quaint harbour town of Wexford itself. Over the course of the three day festival prizes were awarded for best paintings each day. The winning artists are; Marcella Meagher, Dave West, Mireia Sanz, Gerard Byrne, John Gallagher, Conrad Frankel, Norma Healy, Michael Rowley and Ann Fripps.

Plein air painting in Ireland

Furthermore, four professional Irish artists were invited to the festival as Guest Tutor Artists, including contemporary Impressionist Gerard Byrne. Renowned for his large-scale plein air oil paintings, Byrne performed two live painting demonstrations in an intimate group setting. Viewers observed Gerard’s creative process as they watched him paint alfresco dining at a busy restaurant in Wexford Town and the charming red brick Victorian Pump House at North Slobs Nature Reserve.

Plein air painting in Ireland

The festival culminated with an outdoor exhibition on Wexford’s quayside. On display were all artworks created by registered artists during the festival, showing a wonderful mix of mediums, different styles and colour palette. The exhibition was open to the public who were invited to view the artworks, having an opportunity to buy paintings fresh off the easel.

Organisers are hopeful that next year will see the festival return to it’s international format whereby a larger event will take place, bringing top artists from around the world to the Sunny South East corner of Ireland. The festival will be a week-long event with a number of different picturesque painting locations, hosting two hundred artists or more as per previous years.

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  1. LPAPA has been working toward its own gallery and venue to highlight its members’ works for years, since its first Invitational opened to its public audience in the Laguna Art Museum over twenty years ago. Since my first association with the event in 2008, the venue for that event has changed several times, seeking that perfect spot to highlight the invited artists’ works created during that week. Now the organization has a “home,” that will not only highlight Signature artists’ work, but will be a venue for even more exhibitions and get-togethers. Kudos to the leadership, particularly Toni Kellenberg, Rosemary Swimm, Celeste Giles, and the LPAPA Board in securing this venue that is an historical extension of the exhibition spaces initiated by the first plein air painters in Laguna in the early 1900’s. What an exciting adventure! Anyone who wants to share in this legacy may easily join the organization at, for fellowship with artists from all over the world, for teaching, for learning, and for the love of art.


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