Plein Air Convention -
Don't miss Clark Mitchell's demo on the Pastel Stage at the 8th Annual Plein Air Convention!

Missing the annual Plein Air Convention is like missing the experience of a lifetime. San Francisco is going to be more incredible than ever.

But if you’re allowing an excuse to keep you from coming … keep reading.

Excuse #1
I’m not a city painter. I’m a landscape painter.
We love landscape painting too and have made sure our four painting locations are all landscapes. You can paint cityscapes if you want, just by turning a different direction in some cases. The landscapes around the city are amazing. There are glorious mountain views, the sea, poetic trees, and, yes, even the Golden Gate Bridge. Can you say you’ve painted the Golden Gate Bridge? It’s an incredible experience, and that painting is one you’ll want to keep. Painters travel from around the world to paint the landscapes around San Francisco.

Excuse #2
San Francisco is too big. I don’t want to deal with traffic and parking.
You can fly in, take a shuttle from the airport (or drive directly from the airport), and not have to deal with traffic all week. If you want to drive, three of our four locations are within 20-30 minutes. But no need. This year we have arranged bus packages you can purchase for less than a day of parking to get you to all our painting locations, and even our Wine Country painting day, which is one hour away. (Advance reservations required.)

Excuse #3
San Francisco isn’t safe. I’m not sure I want to be outside painting.

Yeah, we’ve seen the news too. It’s unfortunate. In fact, we wanted to make sure it was not going to be a problem, and so we flew out recently. Like any big city, you’ll see some issues, but once you’re in the hotel you don’t need to worry. Hundreds of events come to this hotel, and management tells us they have had zero problems. If you stay in the hotel (we have a discount rate), you can walk from your room, go down the elevator to our sessions, and if you don’t want to go out painting with us each day, you can go to our new indoor painting arena, where we will project the places we’re painting onto the big screen. It’s like indoor plein air painting. You see the movement and hear the sounds, and you never have to leave the hotel. (No charge, but reservations required.) You should also know that we did not see any problems or homelessness at any of our painting locations.

Excuse #4
San Francisco is an expensive city.

We know. Because of our date just after Easter, we got a hotel rate that is much lower than normal. Though it’s a little more expensive than last year, it’s the lowest you’ll ever see for a decent hotel room in the city. We have arranged for discounted food in the hotel, and there is food right around the corner in several directions, and it’s not expensive. For instance, there is a Subway across the street, an inexpensive Chinese restaurant, and an inexpensive steak place. Locals have to save money too. Though you can spend a lot on a meal at a swanky restaurant, you don’t need to do that. And it’s cheaper to fly to San Francisco, San Jose, or Oakland than most major cities, so what you spend on the hotel, you’ll make up on airfare.

Excuse #5
I don’t know all the painters you have on stage.

You’ll have to trust us. As PleinAir magazine, we know who’s hot, who’s on top, and who you need to experience. Our faculty is world-class, and though some are world famous, you may not know them yet. The others are about to be world famous.

Excuse #6
I’m all alone. I don’t know anybody.

That’s exactly the reason to come. We’re all alone in our studios, and life is richer once we know others in the plein air community. This is your tribe. We love the same things; we have lots in common. You’ll make friends easily. And if you come to our free orientation right before the convention, we will introduce you to small groups so you can hang out and have meals with others. People have told us they have made great, lifelong friendships this way.

Excuse #7
I’m a little embarrassed to paint in front of others.

We’ve all been there. That’s why coming is a good idea: We all understand and won’t judge you. In fact, we have instructors to work with you and give you tips. Other painters will do the same. And you don’t have to paint. You can of course observe when we go painting, but most of the event is instruction in any case.

Excuse #8
I’m a beginner and not sure I should come.

Last year we had over 200 beginners — many who did their very first painting of any kind, and many who did their first plein air painting. This is the best place to learn fast, sample lots of ideas, see how lots of people paint … and, yes, it will help you get up to speed quickly. We do offer an optional pre-convention basics workshop, which we recommend to beginning painters.

Excuse #9
I’ll go next time you go to San Francisco, and I’ll see these faculty members then.

We got lucky to get a date when we could get good rates in San Francisco, but the city is getting too expensive for us to ever return. We made a commitment once, but we don’t intend to ever go back because our costs are high and we did not increase the cost of the convention. Also, we may repeat a faculty member from time to time, but we have never repeated the full faculty. Some people are coming from distant lands and will never return again.

Excuse #10
It’s too close to Easter.

That’s the only reason we’re able to go. We got a special rate because it’s a tough week for the hotel to sell, and it’s why we won’t ever be able to afford to come back to San Francisco. Normally the rooms could be twice or three times the cost. But it will be worth it. You have time to travel after Easter and still get there on time, and you’ll be glad you did.

Excuse #11
I prefer workshops and one-on-one teaching.

We’ve heard that before, yet the majority of people who attend tell us this is a better experience than a workshop. Sometimes people go to a workshop and are disappointed, but they’re stuck. At “PACE,” you can move from one room to the next and find something you’ll love. We have five stages, a giant Expo Hall, an art show, and art marketing training, none of which you’ll find at a workshop. You get access to 88 faculty members for the price of a single workshop.

Excuse #12
The convention is too big.

People tell us that it does not feel big because, other than the main sessions, the room divides to all the different stages. Plus, this year will be slightly smaller than last year because some people simply cannot come this time. Take advantage of this year being a little smaller.

Excuse #13
I’m not a plein air painter.

Last year we had over 100 studio painters who came to learn from top masters. They don’t plein air paint, but they are there to learn the principles of painting from the greats. You don’t have to attend our outdoor painting sessions. (We go out every day to paint, at the end of the day the first two days, for a half day on day three, and for a full day — this year in Wine Country — on day four.)

Excuse #14
I’ve never been to a convention. I don’t know what it’s like.

No one is wearing a lampshade on their head; this is not like a big political convention. This year will probably be about 800 people, tops. Break that into five stages, and the stages aren’t too packed. This is simply a gathering of people from your tribe who love what you love. Each day we start with Home Room for prize giveaways and communication, then we break out to different rooms depending on who you want to watch (all convention sessions are included at one price, though optional pre-convention sessions do have a fee). There is a lot of sitting and chatting at night, and we have evening sessions. Then we do it five days in a row. It’s fun and easy. You do as much or as little as you wish.

Excuse #15
There are too many people. I won’t be able to see.

Actually, you can see better because we have giant high-definition screens and cameras getting closeups. People tell us they can see better than in a workshop of 15 people because not everyone can see well sitting behind the painter.

Excuse #16
I’m not a fun person. I don’t like to have fun.

Sorry, we can’t help you. This is going to be a lot of fun, and everyone has a big smile on their face.

Plein Air Convention & Expo


  1. Good luck Eric. My reason for never going? I put on, hosted, was the key note speaker at so many conventions in 2 decades of my life that you could not DRAG me to one for free. LOL! By the way, Light Chasers has now 717 members as of this morning! We keep growing and growing!

    I am glad that you are out there and providing so many opportunities for painters also. Best of luck!


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