Event organizers were calling the Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE) the “Woodstock of plein air painting,” and while the vibe was certainly a groovy one, it might more accurately be called the Lollapalooza of plein air. Participants explain why.
Kim Lordier demonstrating at PACE
Woodstock had only one stage; Lollapalooza festivals had as many as three stages for headliners. PACE had areas devoted to pastelists, watercolorists, demos, and talks on the main stage, as well as demos on a more intimate stage. “I felt like I was drinking out of a firehose,” says David Thibault, a participant from Irvine, California. “Everyone is very friendly and supportive, but it is a lot to take in. The caliber of the artists is insane.”
Brad Holt may have paint on his face. His painting may have blown off his canvas and hit him in the face.
Elizabeth Mowry discussed her method of self-critique during a session in the Pastel Room.
Albert Handell is a master pastelist and a popular workshop instructor, but if you wanted to see his demonstration, it meant missing T. Allen Lawson’s Main Stage talk that had people talking for days. And seeing either of them meant missing watercolorist Eric Wiegardt present “Secrets of Painting Loose.” Another day, participants were bouncing from Carolyn Anderson’s demo to watercolor master Michael Reardon’s presentation to Kim Casebeer’s pastel-intensive lesson to Brian Blood’s advice on how to “Keep It Simple.”
Terri Ford paints a demo.
Michelle Darvis was both a participant and an exhibitor at PACE. This is her second year as a full-time artist, and it was her first time at the convention. And she says she was “wowed” even before the convention began: She had taken C.W. Mundy’s pre-convention workshop. “I learned more in two days than I did from any course in college,” says Darvis. “It kind of blew my mind. I’m just on cloud nine.”
Terri Ford’s palette
Artists painted along the dramatic coast on Monterey Peninsula, and they talked shop deep into the night at the Portola Resort and Monterey Conference Center, at nearby pubs, and on benches in quaint plazas just outside the ballrooms and expo space. Presentations in the conference center ranged from business-oriented topics to pure explorations of color and inspiration.
Painters face the wind and surf at Asilomar State Beach.
Kathy Anderson presents a demo on the Main Stage at PACE.
It started on April 13, with PleinAir magazine publisher Eric Rhoads donning a pilot’s outfit (more on that next week), and ended with a free painting day outside in Monterey on April 17. Smiles were abundant and excitement was keeping the energy level very high on days that for some started with a 6:30 a.m. Art Marketing Boot Camp session and ended after 9 p.m. when critiques by such respected artists as Quang Ho and Carolyn Anderson wrapped up.
Joe Gyurcsak offers an interesting talk on color during a lunch session.
Even veterans such as Elizabeth Mowry were impressed. Mowry has been to a convention or two — she is in the Pastel Society of America’s Hall of Fame, and she sits on the board of the International Association of Pastel Societies. She says, “I found the convention to be a wonderful, rewarding experience. The size of it! It’s just so astounding to me. To witness the camaraderie, people finding each other at their easels … the excellence of the work of the plein air painters and what they’d done in the field.”
Jim McVicker was prepared for the wind.
But what could a master pastelist like Mowry possibly gain from something like PACE? “I have never felt that I’m finished learning,” she says. “There’s just so much to learn. You have to be open to things or you become static. I’ve had to solve many problems myself because I’m self-taught, so I understand the struggle some are going through. But there’s so much to offer here. I would come back to this convention in a minute.”