Thoughts About the Art Life
Painting at Kevin MacPherson's Pond, PAAC Taos Paint Out, 2011
Plein air events have been going on for many years now. There is just about a plein air event every weekend somewhere in the country from Spring through Fall. PAPA, the national invitational plein air organization, was most likely the first group to reintroduce plein air painting to art collectors as well as the general public through plein air painting events. Since then these events have grown to be great money makers for the sponsoring organization.
What are the benefits for an artist?
Painting in interesting as well as beautiful locations that an artist might not normally have access to is certainly one benefit.
Meeting the public as well as getting press exposure is another reason to participate in an event.
Painting with other artists who share the same love for plein air painting is another benefit. Networking is always a great reason.
Sales and prize money is also a potential benefit.
I have participated in regional, local, and national plein air events and I have received all of the above benefits from my participation.
I have also experienced the downside of these events:
Expenses: Motel rooms, food, gas, frames, stamping fees, entry fees, and supplies can make the event an expensive one.
Poor press and advertising by sponsoring organization: This is one way some groups cut costs. Some make money from the artists' entry fees and stamping fees.
Poor planning for exhibition: Bad lighting, bad space.
Quality of artists: Some groups invite any artist, regardless of their plein air experience. This mix can sometimes hurt the show with a huge variety of prices as well as experience.
I used to participate in many plein air events. I enjoyed the experience as well as the variety. I now limit my plein air events for all of the above reasons. I also carefully research the event prior to submission.
I encourage all plein air artists to participate in these events knowing the pros and cons. We all gain from the experience.Comment on or Share this Article →