Joe Paquet, featured in PleinAir Magazine
Joe Paquet, featured in the PleinAir Magazine article “Absolutely Real but Not Photographic” (April / May 2024 issue). Joe is leading a pre-convention workshop at the upcoming Plein Air Convention & Expo.

Preview the newest issue of PleinAir Magazine with the Editor’s Letter:

Close to Home

Just a few hundred miles from where I live, the Great Smoky Mountains — the site for this year’s Plein Air Convention & Expo — feel like home. From the time I was little, my parents had taken my sisters and me to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for family vacations. As an adult, I’ve taken my own daughters to the area for hiking, shopping, and visiting the sites around Cherokee and Asheville, North Carolina.

Charles Krutch painting of Mt LeConte
Charles Krutch (1849–1934), “Mt. LeConte,” Oil on board, 20 1/2 x 35 1/2 Knoxville Museum of Art. East Tennessee’s Charles Krutch earned the nickname “Corot of the South” for the soft, atmospheric watercolor and oil paintings of the Smoky Mountains that served as his sole focus. Completely self-taught, he often applied thick layers of paint with his fingers to capture the changing moods of the mountains.
PleinAir Magazine AprilMay 2024 cover
The cover of our April/May issue of PleinAir Magazine; art by Joe Paquet (Click here to buy the digital version now)

For Walland, Tennessee, artist Kathie Odom, the connection is even closer, with the park lying just outside her back door. In “Of Mist and Memory,” she reveals what makes the Smokies so special and lets us in on a few of her favorite painting spots.

“There is a simplicity and quiet waiting for me each time I drive into the Smokies,” she says. “A nostalgia for the old Appalachian way of life wants to jump in the car with me. I roll the windows down, breathe the fresh mountain air, and think to myself, welcome home.”

Subjects close to home represent a recurring theme in this issue. In “The Secret Spaces That Became Art,” we explore the private gardens that inspired the French Impressionists and those who followed in their footsteps, including Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Sorolla, Van Gogh, and Klimt.

In Plein Air Portfolio: “Nature’s Studio,” 17 contemporary artists show off their finest paintings of gardens, yards, and greenspaces. Elevating the everyday to the extraordinary, their work invites us to take a fresh look at familiar scenes of nature, both wild and manicured. And for those inspired to try their hand at a gardenscape of their own, pastel artist Karen Margulis demonstrates her process for painting wildflowers and grasses step by step in The Elements: “Wild About Wildflowers.”

Of course, for us city dwellers, close to home has a different look. Cover artist Joe Paquet of St. Paul, Minnesota, puts his own spin on the theme in urban works like “Cave Shadow” (featured in the article “Absolutely Real but Not Photographic”), of which he says, “All of my heroes found beauty in their backyard. Here’s my take.”

Whether you find joy and inspiration close to home or further afield, here’s to the start of another successful season of plein air!

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