Artists on Location Plein Air Event
Jason Saunders, awards judge for the 13th Annual Artists on Location Plein Air Event

With dozens of events to consider and deadlines looming, it’s time to plan your outdoor painting activities for 2018. Here is the news about a few upcoming events.

The level of competition among artists who apply to plein air events has intensified in recent years. The festivals that used to be easy to get into are now receiving many more applications and therefore they are not extending as many invitations. Also, the increased sales and cash awards at major events have attracted the attention of top artists who previously didn’t find it worthwhile to participate. Because of this increase in pressure, it is even more important for artists to carefully select the festivals they want to apply to and to decide wisely which three images will impress the juror(s) of those events.

Not all of the events slated for 2018 are intensely competitive or stretch over seven-10 days, so artists with less experience or less time to be away from home can focus on these other opportunities. Some open events accept any application received before the deadline, many regional gatherings are open only to applicants from qualifying states, there are informal paint-outs organized by both regional and national organizations, and there are membership events that welcome any current member. Finally, almost every quick-draw competition — even those connected to highly competitive events — is open to all registrants, and participation may help in becoming better known to the event organizers and artists on the plein air circuit.

Applications Still Open

Paint St. Louis Plein Air Festival The “Paint St. Louis Plein Air Festival” will celebrate the tradition of outdoor painting, combining art and science in the most natural format.

The Academy of Nature and Wildlife Arts will host the Paint St Louis Plein Air Festival from May 18-20, 2018. This fundraiser will celebrate the tradition of outdoor painting, combining art and science in the most natural format. The event has two components, an invitational and an open. The invitational will be extended to 10-15 nationally recognized artists who paint “on the circuit” whereas the open class will be available to all artists. In association with St. Louis County Parks and the Missouri Botanical Garden, the invited and open class artists will be able to paint in a number of historic and beautiful locations before turning in the work to be judged at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Following the judging there will be an awards ceremony, with the show and sale to follow. For more information, visit

The Knoxville Museum of Art invites artists to participate in the 13th Annual Artists on Location Plein Air Event, April 23-28, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee, and surrounding areas. Application deadline is March 15, 2018. The entry juror is David Boyd, Jr., and the awards judge is Jason Saunders (featured at top). For information, contact Julia Connor at [email protected].

First Brush of Spring
Carol Strock-Wasson painting during First Brush of Spring 2017

The First Brush of Spring annual plein air festival celebrates its 20th anniversary with more than 150 artists competing for over $13,000 in awards and joining a workshop in the historic Hoosier community. Held in the historic town of New Harmony, Indiana, the event includes a competition and seven workshops conducted by nationally known artists such as Carolyn Anderson, Roger Dale Brown, Marc Hanson, and Elizabeth Robbins. For more information, visit

Plein Air Glacier | PleinArt Today
“Swift Current Evening,” by Rob Akey

Thirty juried artists will explore Glacier National Park’s trails and waterways in June 2018 during Plein Air Glacier, an event organized by the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell, MT. Applications due March 12, 2018. For more information, visit

Finger Lakes Plein Air Festival
Patrick Lee painting during the Finger Lakes Plein Air Festival in 2016

New York
The Seventh Annual Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition & Festival will be held in Canandaigua, New York June 5-10, 2018. Ken DeWaard will judge the event, selecting the winners of more than $8,000 in prizes, and conduct a workshop June 11-13. The application deadline is February 1. For more information, visit:

The 2014 EnPleinAirTEXAS participants

EnPleinAirTEXAS will invite 34 artists to participate in the San Angelo, Texas, event. It’s hosted by the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, and the deadline for applying is May 15. For more information, visit

Rocky Mountain National Park plein air painting
Susiehyer’s painting of Cub Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park, “Cub Lake Trailhead by Starlight,” oil on linen, 18 x 24

Plein Air Rockies has changed its name to Estes Park Plein Air and will be accepting applications until March 31, 2018. Artists will paint in Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park, Colorado. The event is sponsored by the Art Center of Estes Park and the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park. Applications will be judged by two individuals during the first week in April. For more information, visit

Future Goals to Consider

Here are some brief descriptions of invitational events already closed that you may want to aim for next year.

Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational
Artists painting on a beach in Maui, Hawaii, during the plein air invitational

The Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational is a week-long art event held February 17-25, 2018. Twenty-five artists will create inspiring paintings at the Lahaina Harbor Kick Off, Kapalua Bay Paint Out, and the Canoe Beach Quick Draw. The week culminates with the Art to Heart Gala, the Artists’ Aloha Reception, and the Artists’ Farewell Reception — all held at the Royal Lahaina Resort. A Youth Paint Out will be held on Sunday, February 18. For more information, visit

plein air painting Judge Nancy Tankersley
Judge Nancy Tankersley

5th Annual Plein Air Festival, Lighthouse Art Center Gallery & School of Art. This juried event is a premier gathering, the largest of its kind in South Florida. Prizes and awards totaling $15,000 will be given out. The judge for 2018 is renowned artist and Grand Prize winner of the 4th Annual Plein Air Festival Nancy Tankersley (above). The public can observe artists painting at locations in Palm Beach and Martin Counties, then view and have the opportunity to purchase the wet paintings later at the ArtCenter Gallery. There will be artists’ demos and workshops, as well as a special ticketed VIP Collectors’ reception. For moreinformation, visit

plein air painting Judge Erik Koeppel
Judge Erik Koeppel

The Shadows-on-the-Teche Plein Air Competition will take place March 10-16 in New Iberia, Louisiana. Judge Erik Koeppel (above) will present a separate three-day plein air artists’ workshop March 17-19. For more information, navigate to the Erik Koeppel Workshop event listing or visit


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