Recently my friend Calina sent me a Facebook message. “I saw your PleinAir Live event. Does that mean you don’t think you’ll have the convention?”
Here is what I told her…

Fear not. The Plein Air Convention is taking place as scheduled.
We believe it will be allowed to take place based on current safety feedback.
But we know that we can’t grow it much more due to the need for social distancing.
PleinAir Live was created for the people who can’t come to the convention. But many convention attendees are already signed up because they don’t want to miss it.

Do the Math

You see, the Plein Air Convention had 950 people registered. When we discovered we had to reschedule, we immediately wrote 400 refund checks to people who could not make it. (Thankfully, some more new people have registered since then.)

People were not attending the rescheduled convention because…

– They wanted to wait till the last minute to see how they felt about attending
– They knew their state would still be in quarantine
– They were concerned about safety
– They did not want to get on an airplane
– They could not make it because of date conflicts

Since that time I’ve been listening carefully. People are telling me they really want to attend, but they’re not comfortable. Several suggested a virtual convention because it would “scratch my plein air itch.”

What is a virtual convention?

Virtual means you can participate by watching from your home on your computer, laptop, big-screen TV, tablet, or phone. You can watch, and if you choose to ask questions or participate, you’re encouraged to do so.

How is PleinAir Live different from online classes and online videos?

We are all part of something bigger. The plein air movement is massive. People are painting all over the U.S.A. and across the world, and I wanted to bring them together. So I’m not only bringing in the biggest names to teach and do demonstrations, critiques, and roundtables, we’re bringing in top people from other countries so you can see people teaching you normally would not get to see. This is something we rarely get a chance to do at the convention, and never this many at one time.

What will PleinAir Live be like?

It will start at 11:30 a.m., ET and go till about 9 p.m., four days in a row. You’ll be exposed to speakers on topics about plein air and about art, people teaching core essentials, top star artists doing demonstrations, artists critiquing paintings (you can submit yours for possible review), artist discussions and roundtables, and even painting together in beautiful places. You’ll love what we’ve come up with for this.

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Why are you doing it so quickly?

Two reasons. First, many are starting to come out of quarantine. Though most of us are staying close to home, we want to hold this before people are more out and about.
Second, people who cannot attend our events are hungry for things to do to improve their paintings, see their friends, and be part of the community. We all miss being together.

How do I sign up?

Simply go to PleinAirLive.com and sign up, or you can call 561.655.8778 if you want someone to set you up.

Will it be a giant Zoom call? I’ve had bad experiences.

Nope, we’re using high-level broadcast technology that will help us accommodate a big crowd.

What if I can’t watch on those days?

The live experience will be best, but if you’re in a time zone where you don’t want to sit up all night, you can watch the replay. Or, if you can’t make our dates, you can still watch the replay.

Why so much content?

If you think about it, our conventions are packed from morning to night. We wanted to give you a huge amount of content. Our philosophy is to give you as much as possible and let you decide if you want to watch it all right away or watch some later. You can come and go as you please, and watch later if you want.

How does the price compare to the Plein Air Convention?

Think about this. If you travel to the Plein Air Convention, you have airfare, hotel, meals, rental car, and other expenses. And some of us have to pay someone to watch our kids or our dog. Plus there is the cost to attend. And you’ll probably drop a couple of hundred in the stores. You could easily spend $3,000 in total with your ticket. You can attend PleinAir Live for as low as $297, which boils down to less than $75 a day and less than $10 an hour to have the top instructors in the world teaching you, and to be a part of a first-time historic event during a special time in history.

Do I have to wear a mask?

Only if you want to. You won’t have to get on a plane, and you won’t have to be around others or social distance. There is a glass screen between you and everyone else.

What do you have for beginners and people who have never painted plein air?

When I first discovered plein air, I wasted two years learning the ropes. We have created an optional day (one day before the event) so beginners will know the ropes and be more comfortable watching the rest of the event. You can even buy the beginners’ day only, and if you decide to come to the rest of the event later, you can do so if we have seats left. We will teach you about easels, about important history so you’ll know what you are a part of, and we will teach you the basics in each of the types of painting (oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, and gouache) and the kinds of equipment you need for each. And we’ll teach you how to cope with painting outdoors. We think it will save you a lot of time.

How is it possible seating is limited in a virtual environment?

We have to pay some big fees for the people we have, and we have to buy it in chunks for every 500 or 1,000 people. The problem is we have to do it in advance, so if we bought for 1,500 people and only sold 500 seats, we would have to pay for the rest of those people anyway. Plus most technology still has limits on the number of people who can be served at one time. And there are some special elements we’ll be presenting that do limit the number of participants. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to book early, because at some point before the event, we may have to cut off registration.

Why are there three different categories?

Like all things, some people want to drive a Yugo, while others want a Toyota, and others want a Range Rover or a Mercedes. You can choose the fit for you. Each level has different replay periods. Plus the Premiere has extra goodies, and the VIP some very cool PleinAir Live stuff. Think about this, even those attending in VIP are spending about $2,000 less than if they came in person and spent all that money on travel. It’s about the same money they would have spent on a Plein Air Convention ticket by itself.

Do I have to make a decision now, or will you sell the event later?

We have certain restrictions with participating artists agreeing that we can only use their content for this broadcast. So no, we will not sell this material in the future.

Will you do PleinAir Live again next year?

We don’t have any plans to. This is designed for this moment in time based on the pandemic. Our hope is to return to all live events.

What if I have Internet problems?

If you have problems watching YouTube videos, you’ll have a problem with this, so that’s something you need to correct with your Internet provider anyway. You will have a replay you can go back to if you have problems on the day.

This is all new. How do I know it will be good?

You don’t. But if you know me, know the level of experiences and quality I provide in everything else I do, you’ll know it’s a safe bet that it’s going to be a great experience. Will it be perfect? No — not even the Plein Air Convention is perfect.

How am I going to learn differently?

In painting, we learn by watching. If you have learned from a DVD or online video, you can learn in this environment. In fact, it will be fun and lively, engaging and asking you to participate, which will keep it more interesting.

Why do I have to pay to watch when I can get free videos on YouTube?

Chances are you could get the equivalent of a Harvard education if you spent enough time digging through thousands of hours of small segments of free content. We’ve put this all together in a fun, exciting, and educational format to give you a giant dose of plein air in one place, at one time, including an opportunity to comment and get feedback.

I’ve never done anything virtual, and I’m intimidated by the technology.

We understand. Technology can be intimidating. But if you are able to open and click on a website to watch a video, this is just as easy. If not, you probably have some friends or family who can get you set up.

It seems like it will be hard to communicate with others.

In some ways, it might be easier. No masked mumbling and asking people to repeat themselves. And no six-foot social distancing. You’ll be able to make comments at any time with your keyboard, and ask questions. In some sections you’ll have the ability to go on camera to communicate if you desire.

What if I want to go to the bathroom or grab some lunch?

You should be able to hit pause, but if not, you can always go back to the replay. That’s the magic. When we watch something live, we retain about 20 percent, but when we can rewatch, we can retain more, and revisit content we need to hear again.

A Statement from Eric Rhoads, Founder and Publisher of PleinAir Magazine

I’m a dreamer. I’ve dreamed of a way to serve all the thousands of people who never could afford the Plein Air Convention and the travel costs. I’ve wanted to serve the people who cannot travel due to family or health circumstances. I’ve wanted to serve the people in the world who don’t find it practical to get on an airplane but want to attend an event.

This event will give you a chance to attend from home, it will be safe, and you’ll get a tremendous benefit from attending. You will become a better painter, you’ll have a deeper understanding of important concepts, you’ll be entertained and have fun, and you’ll be connecting with the world. If you’re shy or don’t attend events because you think you’re not ready, you can choose not to make yourself seen or known. If you’re a beginner, you can feel confident that you’ll not be judged (not that we would anyway), and if you’re someone who likes to participate, you can get involved as deeply as you wish. You’ll be able to see and have chats with product vendors to ask questions, and you can meet painters from around the globe.

COVID created this opportunity. No, it won’t replace the experience of the Plein Air Convention, but it’s a great alternative for those who can’t or won’t come. This will be a spectacular experience, and it will be different from the convention.

I hope you’ll consider it. My reputation is on the line, so you know I’ll deliver.

~ Eric Rhoads, Publisher
PleinAir Magazine

To sign up, go to PleinAirLive.com.

Plein Air Live

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