Last year, the plein air community saw three inaugural events, showing us that the movement is alive and well. In case you missed them, here are three new festivals and competitions to check out this year. For a complete listing of 2023 plein air events, remember to check out our annual guide here.
3 New Plein Air Events to Keep on Your Radar
The first International Plein Air Festival San Miguel de Allende took place this past November, attracting watercolor painters from all over Mexico, Canada, the United States, and beyond to explore and paint in the charming colonial city and semi-desert landscape of El Charco del Ingenio.
Judges Tere Lojero, vice president of IWS Mexico; Juan Zaragoza; and Joye Moon awarded prizes to James Faecke for First Place, Urban Scenes and Second Place, El Charco Landscapes; Efren Gonzales for First Place, El Charco Landscapes and Third Place, Urban Scenes; Irina Yushmanova for Second Place, Urban Scenes; and John Lees for Third Place, El Charco Landscapes.
Galeria San Francisco, host of this inaugural event, is a member of the International Watercolor Society, an arts organization with more than 100 branches and organizations around the world.
For the first time, 18 Colorado-based artists enjoyed five days of painting around Snowmass Village, at the iconic Maroon Bells (the most photographed peaks in North America), near rivers in the Roaring Fork Valley, and on scenic hiking trails around Snowmass. The Snowmass Plein Air Festival opened with a welcome reception at the Snowmass Chapel so artists could mix and mingle and get their bearings for the week ahead, then reconvened in Snowmass Base Village at the end of the week for a festive brunch and judging by Susiehyer.
Eight prizes valued at $3,800 in total were given out, including Artists’ Choice and First Place to Dan Marshall, Second Place to Scott Ruthven, Third Place to Kathleen Lanzoni, and Awards of Merit to Lanny Grant, Lindsay Ternes, Peter Campbell, and Anita Winter. After awards were presented, the paintings went on sale. Over the course of the weekend, 34 paintings were sold for a total of $33,000. Of those, seven paintings sold for over $1,000, and two for over $2,000.
Last fall, 20 nationally acclaimed artists were invited to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the inaugural Plein Air in the Smokies. Organized by Friends of the Smokies, an official nonprofit partner of the park, the event generated over $270,000 and included five days of in-park painting, a “Quick Draw” competition with local artists in the GSMNP gateway community of Maryville, and a ticketed private art sale and awards reception, plus two public art sales.
For his painting Rock Mosaic, Bill Farnsworth took home Best of Show. Other award winners included Charlie Hunter, who won for Body of Work; Christine Lashley, Best Water for Aqua Pool, Tremont; John Guernsey, Best Structure for Blue House in the Woods; Neal Hughes, Best Use of Light for Morning Light; and Carl Bretzke, Best Landscape for Morning in the Smokies.
Friends of the Smokies Senior Special Projects Director Lauren Gass said Plein Air in the Smokies will be an annual event and artists will be selected through a juried process in 2023.
Bonus Event: Every year, the Plein Air Convention & Expo brings the foremost artists in their fields to share their best practices and techniques with you for five days of high-impact art instruction. It’s your chance to be part of a family of artists and to learn from the very top painters in the world. Join us in Denver, May 21-25, 2023!
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