One of the best parts (among many!) of touring the United States via a camper is the opportunity to view the scenic and beautiful landscapes. From mysterious forests to desert settings, mountain peaks encircled by wisps of clouds to the azure blue of the ocean, our country has no shortage of vistas and panoramas to capture your eye and spark your imagination.
And if you want a personalized memento of a particular location, consider attending a plein art event. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, plein art is the act of painting outdoors or, in French, “en plein air.” The goal is to capture the subject — the landscape or people or both, incorporating natural light, color, and movement, according to Wayne Art Center.
The following is a selection of plein air festivals taking place in 2023.
From June 28 to July 4, 2023, the Telluride Plein Air Festival will host nationally renowned plein air artists for a week of outdoor art, with all events open to the public to view. Visitors can observe some of the nation’s top plein air artists at work. The festival culminates in a three-day sale, where the artists display the work they have created during the week. Art classes are also offered during the festival with two top plein air artists, and a portion of proceeds from each class benefit the Sheridan Arts Foundation, the 501(c)(3) non-profit that owns and operates the historic Sheridan Opera House. For more information, visit the website.
Evanston Plein Air Festival runs from July 9 to 16, with artists capturing the beauty and historical landmarks of Evanston in plein air style. Visitors can watch the artists at work and purchase artwork. Sunday marks the grand finale: an exhibit of one piece from each artist submitted for judging for Best of Show, 4 Honorable Mention awards, and a community vote for Festival Favorite. For more information, visit the website.
The Door County Plein Air Festival takes place in and around the Peninsula School of Art from July 23 to 29, with the Online Exhibition & Sale from July 30 to August 13. During the weeklong event, select artists to paint at various locations in Door County while visitors watch them create plein-air paintings. Other activities include lectures with prestigious artists and art collectors and Quick Paint grab-and-go art kits for children. For more information and a schedule of locations, visit the website.
The four-day, open-enrollment Blowing Rock Plein Air Festival brings painters together from around the world to paint in the scenic areas surrounding the town of Blowing Rock. The event runs from August 15 to 19, with a “Wet Paint” Art Show & Sale taking place at the end of the festival. For more information, visit the website.
The Eagle Plein Air Festival is a festival, exhibition, and competition open to professional and non-professional artists of all skill levels. The festival runs from October 7 to 14 and includes demonstrations, painting lessons, and opportunities to talk with participating artists. For more information, visit the website or contact the coordinator at 208-888-9898 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sedona Plein Arts Festival runs from October 20 to 28 at the Sedona Arts Center, kicking off with a chance for the public to meet the artists at an informal opening at the Art Barn. The schedule details where the artists will be painting and other events. For more information, visit the website.
The week-long Winter Park Paint Out takes place at the Polasek Museum and other locations throughout Winter Park and Orlando, with visitors invited to watch the artists at work and attend free painting demonstrations. All works created during the week will be available for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds going to support the Museum. Visit the website for information regarding the 2024 schedule.
Formed in 2005 with the merger of Plein Air Artists of Colorado (PAAC) and Plein Air Colorado (PACO), PAAC creates opportunities for artists to paint outdoors together, with paint outs open to everyone of every level. Members enter the annual juried show, attend special destination paint-outs and workshops, and participate in other special events. PAAC also hosts weekly Paint Out groups throughout Colorado open to the public. For more information and upcoming dates, visit the website or contact email@example.com.
Interested in learning more about plein air painting?
If viewing all this artwork has inspired you to try your hand at plein air painting, check out Virtual Art Academy’s Plein Air Painting Techniques: 16 Tips For Success and Plein Air For Beginners and Painting Demonstrations & Art Tips, both from Outdoor Painter.
For a more in-depth exploration of this painting style, register for the Plein Air Convention and Expo 2024: five days of high-impact art instruction from foremost artists in their fields. The event runs from May 20 to 24, 2024, at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, NC.