Mark Fehlman remembers the highlight of his participation at the Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE) last year, and he is looking to make sure others have a similar experience. What happened?
Fehlman says he thinks PACE has improved every year. Last year, he noticed something that seemed to significantly enrich the experience for participants. “I’ve been at all of the conventions, and it’s gotten progressively better every year,” he says. “What has really happened over the years is the field painters are participating more and more in the process. I watched C.W. Mundy really walk around and get into it with people — that active involvement, that’s a really positive experience. That’s what I’ve seen — the field artists getting out there a little bit earlier to get a painting started, then they walk around and talk to people about their work. Then they go back and paint more so people can see the next steps. C.W. spent about 10 minutes with me, and that was one of the highlights of the event. To have someone of that quality spend some time with me was just great.”
“Springtime Flowers,” by Mark Fehlman, oil, 9 x 12 in.
Fehlman will be one of those field painters at PACE 2016, scheduled for April 15-19 in Tucson, Arizona, at a luxe resort. It’s a gig he is very much looking forward to. “I really like painting in Tucson,” Fehlman says. “I like painting in the desert in general. You will get mostly good days at that location, and the thing I like so much about it is that when you are in the desert, the landscape shapes are really well defined. You know what’s in dark and what’s in light. As a West Coast painter, I appreciate that strong light in Tucson. It’s greener there, especially at that time of year. It’s not a dry and colorless place, like people sometimes picture a desert. It is full of color and activity, maybe even some really good cloud shapes. I’m a big fan of going to Tucson, the city, too. It’s really a cool town. It has old architecture — sometimes I think of it as Phoenix 40 years ago, and that’s a good thing.”
“Torrey Vista,” by Mark Fehlman, oil, 14 x 11 in.
“Distant View,” by Mark Fehlman, oil, 12 x 16 in.
“Rocky Point Morning,” by Mark Fehlman, oil, 12 x 16 in.
The artists who attend PACE are serious painters, and Fehlman appreciates that. That’s why field painters are becoming increasingly important to the convention. The attendees are there to learn — even when they are heading outside to scratch their painting itch. “Most people who go to the convention are plein air painters, and they are coming to this because they want to increase their abilities,” comments Fehlman. “This isn’t just entertainment for them. The people who come know what they are doing and want to improve. I am expecting that people will really want you to have them look at their work and offer suggestions on how they can improve their work — not just say, ‘Oh, I like that.’ Like I do in workshops, I will talk about design, about editing as a part of that. You don’t have to paint exactly what you see. Take a tree or mountain and move them together or pull them apart — and it is still plein air painting.”
“San Pasqual Vista,” by Mark Fehlman, oil, 12 x 16 in.
Fehlman will be a part of this growing dimension of PACE, and he’s glad. “The field painting aspect is getting better and better, and it’s really becoming an important part of the convention,” says the California artist. “You hear all these great things during the day at all the demos and lectures, and then you want to get out and try it. The field painters on the PACE faculty help you.”