Plein Air Events, Participate or Not?

Plein Air Events, Participate or Not?

Becky Joy

Last year I participated in a number of plein air events, Telluride, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Carmel to name a few. This year I decided not to do as many. In fact, I didn’t sign up for any. It wasn’t completely by design.

Someone ask me to teach a workshop. I booked the workshop which happened to be during one of the plein air events. Then I booked another workshop, then another…… Teaching is something I always enjoy. I felt a little ambivalent about participating in the plein air events.

On the one hand I love meeting the other artists and the complete and total immersion in plein air painting for a week without interruptions from the outside. What I didn’t like was the feeling of having to get a completed painting every time and sometimes painting a subject to sell  than what might  really interest me. I know that that is something that I shouldn’t do, but I did find myself painting what I thought I should paint.

I also found that some of the painters were more about painting as many paintings as they could and sell them for less in a variety of sizes. I found myself painting fast and furious, another fault of mine. I knew that this wasn’t the overall direction I wanted to go with my paintings.

Although, I did find that going from one event to another last year, I put in more time plein air painting and that did help me to improve as an artist. Improvement has been my overall goal in the last few years. I also had trouble getting enough studio work done for galleries and the Celebration of Fine Art. This year I have added a gallery and will again be participating in the Celebration of Fine Art again.

That means I need to paint more studio work. I still need to spend plenty of time plein air painting. In April I participated in the show, Powered by Nature, Seven Women in Carmel at Mountainsong Gallery. All of us painted around Carmel for a week before the show. It was a much more relaxing environment and more enjoyable. In fact, I felt that it was one of my best weeks plein air painting, technically and enjoyment. I definitely will do something like that again.

This summer and fall I will be doing quite a bit of traveling and painting. I decided I want to continue my plein air painting, so I have made a challenge for myself. Starting June 1 I will painting a plein air every day for 125 days. I will first be painting in Arizona for a couple of weeks. That will be challenging in itself this time of year with the heat. My paintings will most probably be early morning of at sunset. Then I will drive through CA on my way to Oregon. I’ll paint on the way ad in Oregon. I have more traveling planned later in the summer and into the fall.


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