There’s no better way to learn about the process of painting than by watching and doing, and the Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE) offers many opportunities for participants to do that. There will be demonstrations galore, plus painters working in the field. But on Monday, April 13, before PACE really picks up the pace, those arriving first thing will get a full day of crucial information and advice. Like what? 

To start, luminaries such as Michele de Bragança, Thomas Jefferson Kitts, Aaron Schuerr, Stewart White, and Dawn Whitelaw will offer their take on “Plein Air Basics,” programs that last about an hour and are designed to acclimate studio painters to painting en plein air. Meanwhile, C.W. Mundy will be wrapping up his pre-convention workshop in an adjacent ballroom.

The afternoon holds several choice options for PACE-goers arriving on time. First up will be Joe Taylor with his presentation, “Meaning and Purpose: The Artist’s Impact on Community.” Taylor is a respected community organizer and arts advocate in Florida, and the chair of the Forgotten Coast En Plein Air paint-out. “My artist friend James Richards refers to plein air painting as a spectator sport,” says Taylor. “I like to watch as painters like James have conversations with onlookers, often exchanging stories about the subject of the painting. They talk about the past, what happened there. Sometimes they share good memories, and often there is an edge to the conversation about missed opportunities or skepticism for the future. Either way, the artist and the onlooker tend to share a common interest in the ‘story’ and agree that capturing that moment on canvas is a good thing.

“The plein air painters I have come to know and respect bring to the community an ability to see the beauty in what many only see as flawed and neglected. They celebrate our history, culture, and natural resources with paint and canvas. They take the time to use their talents to tell visual stories that are preserved for future conversations.”

Taylor adds, “I think the greatest contribution of the artist is in the exhibition and discussion of their work. When a community comes together to view a collection of paintings, many special moments occur. On an individual level, the art is a catalyst for personal reflection and discovery. From the community perspective, the art can serve as a visual call for action, such as preservation, conservation, or celebration. I do not think people see art as threatening, making it a great way to bring issues of community interest to the arena for discussion and hopefully for consensus among stakeholders.”

Next up will be Jane Bell Meyer, the owner of three galleries and the founder of the popular and well-known “Where in the World” paint-out. Her presentation is called “Chasing the Light: How to Use Video to Sell More Art.” In this 45-minute session, Bell Meyer covers the tools and techniques that can help an artist better market her or his work.

Shannon Robinson wraps up the Pre-Conference Workshop schedule with “The Global Art Market: What Every Artist Should Know.”

Shannon Robinson will speak on the importance of marketing globally. Photo by Marc Priscotty

“As the curator and founder of the nonprofit Windows to the Divine, my passion is to promote the vocation of the living artist by connecting artists and collectors, which we do through our online community and through our events,” explains Robinson. “To educate collectors and promote connoisseurship, we host collector salons with galleries and museums in which we present a wide range of topics affecting artists and collectors, such as collection strategies and the art market. My presentation at the Plein Air Convention was motivated by the need to alert and converse with artists and collectors about the opportunities and challenges facing them in the rapidly changing global art market. With global art market sales reaching an all-time record of €51B last year [TEFAF Report 2015], it is vital that artists understand the changing players and trends in that market and how they can capitalize on its strengths and avoid its weaknesses. Moreover, at Windows to the Divine, we believe in the special gifts of artists and we are dedicated to ensuring their success by promoting connoisseurship and growing the collector base so that they will flourish in their singular calling.”

The opening ceremony for PACE starts at 4:30 p.m., and then the evening’s program offers more stars and more great information. George Carlson shares his knowledge, Kathy Anderson offers a fresh vision, and PleinAir magazine publisher Eric Rhoads unveils the new Plein Air Force program. Plus, Julianne Burton-Carvajal lets convention participants in on some local history. “‘Welcome to Monterey in the Banner Year of 1915,’ presented in the costume and persona of a Monterey matron, will take audience members back 100 years via photographs of the period, referred to as ‘lantern slides’ in the language of the day,” explains Burton-Carvajal. “Sepia views of painterly spots in the Monterey region, and of artists at work in the open air, will be credited to plein air painter Rowena Meeks Abdy [1887-1945] and her husband, writer Harry Bennett Abdy [1868-1963]. Their recently rediscovered cache of nearly 600 century-old negatives was the catalyst for my recently published book Artists’ Honeymoon: At Work & Play in Monterey & Beyond, 1910-1920, available in the store throughout the conference. Hand-colored photographs of San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition will also be credited to the Abdys for purposes of this 20-minute welcome vignette, presented by a congenial busybody neighbor of the Abdys, chosen to give the welcome speech in place of Rowena, who is will be awaiting her painting colleagues at the San Francisco world’s fair.”

No one will want to miss a minute of this chock-full first day of PACE



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