Artist Joe Paquet not only presented the opening address at the convention, which challenged us as artists to find our own voice in the art world, but he stopped to offer advice to me (and others) while we were out painting on Sunday along the wharf. Just another reason I love this convention experience!

Me and my friend Cynthia Morris during one of the breaks at the main stage.

People often ask me the reasons I do things as an artist. This convention, because it is new and ground breaking in the world of plein air painting, is one of the things that people are curious about. Critics say “how can it be plein air if you are inside watching people paint all the time?” Well, for one thing, we are not inside all the time. We spent two days outside painting and you could either set up and paint alongside your favorite artists or you could wander around (like I do) and watch and photograph and more importantly, learn from these professionals. They are all more than willing to answer questions or help out if you need help, and I experienced that multiple times during my two conventions. The egos (if there are any) are checked at the door and there is no way to really tell (unless you know) who is an artist who gets thousands for their paintings or an artist who is just starting out. You can literally stand in the hallway and chat about art and painting with the artists on the faculty as well as those convention attendees from all over the world. It is the common thread of passion that holds this group together and makes it the fabulous experience it is for everyone.

Another aspect that some people miss about plein air painting is that the demos inside help the convention attendees to “get inside the head” of the artist as they share their processes and painting habits with the crowd. Many plein air artists use their paintings done on location as “notes” or “sketches” to use in the studio for a larger painting as reference, much like a student uses notes in class to write a paper later. This indoor time is an invaluable part of the convention and combined with the outdoor time, makes this an excellent learning and sharing environment for everyone there.

Now for more photos! I LOVE seeing old friends and past workshop instructors at this event. Below are just some of the artists that I made sure to chat with while there.

It is always fun to see some of my previous workshop instructors at the convention, especially those like Scott who have made such a big impact on my painting journey thus far!

I love talking with Camille Przewodek at this event. She always has words of wisdom for me and I enjoy her positive attitude and advice toward my growth as an artist.

Paul Kratter is one of the artists I contacted early on in my quest to paint again as an adult. He has been an inspiration for years now for me and it is a highlight of my trip to see him at this event!

The days painting outside were just spectacular at this convention! The weather was perfect both days and everyone was excited to get out and paint! Below are some of my photos that I took that will tell you more about how 750 people can paint together on location and what a thrill it is to experience this as an aritst!

I really enjoyed watching artist and friend, Gene Costanza, paint along the beach on Saturday. He is one of my favorite artists and to be able to watch him paint was one of the highlights of my trip!

John Crump masterfully painting the water at the wharf paint out. I love watching this guy paint!

Artist John Cosby painting along the wharf the last paint out day. He also explained what he was doing and answered questions as he painted.

One of my favorite artists at the convention, Paul Kratter. I have followed Paul’s work for years and he has been one of those people who inspires me in so many ways. Plus, he is just a nice guy all around too!

Ned Mueller stopped to help a convention attendee put people in her landscape. Again, the impromptu teaching that went on here is one of the coolest things you will ever see and experience.

Kathleen Dunphy painted on the beach and spent the entire time instructing those who stopped to watch by explaining her process and what she was thinking as she was painting. This is one of the things I love about this convention – not only do you get the “planned” instruction on stage and in the demos, but the impromptu instruction by the faculty and other artists there is invaluable and priceless.

Scott Christensen painted along the road next to the beach in his “back of the car setup” as I like to call it. It was really cool to watch this painting develop during the afternoon on the beach.

Artists everywhere you look along the beach painting!

Lori Putnam and two other convention artists paint alongside each other at the beach.

Bryan Mark Taylor beginning his first painting of the day along the path on the first paint out day.

Ken Auster painting along the path at the beach.

Shelby Keefe painting along the wharf.

And, just so you don’t think I spent ALL my time talking and taking photos at the convention, I am including a couple of my plein air sketches done in sunny California! I learned a lot by painting in their beautiful light and as many of you know, I love the struggle of painting water and learn more about it each time I do it!

Marina painting of mine painted the last day of the convention when the group painted together there.

Detail shot of one of my wharf area paintings completed the day the group painted there together.

One of my plein air paintings that I did at the wharf the day we were all out painting together there.

And last, but not least, a few photos of the gorgeous scenery we experienced along the way during the convention. If you have not visited this area, put it on your list of to-dos for the future! You won’t be sorry!

I hope you have enjoyed my review of the Second Annual Plein Air Convention! I would be happy to answer any questions you have about this event if you are considering attending in the future. At this time of this blog post, next year’s details have not been announced but should be soon!




"Coming and Going"
9"x12" oil on linen panel
©2012 Denise Rose Fine Art

I have been working on painting boats lately in preparation for a fun painting trip I have planned to the Forgotten Coast of Florida in May. I am traveling there and will be there for 10 days to paint and observe the invited artists to the 2012 Forgotten Coast Plein Air Event. I am so looking forward to seeing some of my favorite artists paint there and meeting some that I have admired their work for a long time! It will be a great experience for me and that area offers so many great and inspiring places to paint.

Above is from a reference photo from my mentor, Lori Putnam, and I felt like "Coming and Going" describes a lot about this painting and also the way I have been traveling lately!




A couple of weeks ago, I participated in an impressionist still life workshop with artist Lori Putnam at her studio in Franklin, TN. It was a great group of artists and we all learned a lot about setting up a still life, lighting, and just details that I have not thought about before when doing this type of painting. Above you see a couple of the timed studies we did during the workshop. Different setups were done in short amounts of time to make us focus on capturing the general shapes of the colors and not focus on drawing an object and filling it in with paint. As many of us soon realized, this is harder than it sounds! It is our natural tendency as artists to want to draw or sketch off the boundaries of an object and then mix colors to fill in that object. Although I don't generally seek out to paint still life, I felt like it was good for me (kinda like taking vitamins) and my painting journey to learn these things. It should help me in my overall development as a painter, which is one of my main goals at this point.

Like Camille's workshop, the studies in this workshop were intended as studies and not finished paintings. I really like that and it takes the "pressure" off that we as aritsts put on ourselves to always create something that we can hang on the wall or sell. I need the practice and can always see that I improve in aspects of my painting when I paint with this attitude and frame of mind. I am able to let go of that little voice inside that tells me what I am doing is terrible and just learn. The final day we painted a very involved and larger set up and although I wasn't thrilled with the results of mine, I managed to focus on the techniques Lori was teaching us and felt I was successful at that.

I also used a new brand of paint for the first time and loved them.  Blue Ridge Oil Paints are made by Eric Silver in Asheville, NC. I can't really explain why but the paints feel so nice on my brush and as I apply them to the canvas. They are made with a combination of several oils, which you can read about if you are interested on their website. They seem to be slower drying to me than some of the other brands I have used lately, but of course, that is just my first impression. Lori is using these now along with other artists I know, so I decided to give them a try. I know that the brand(s) of oil paints an artist uses is a very personal and individual decision, but if you are looking to trying something new, give him a call. It is a small company and made in America, which are both positives in my book. Plus, he is open to suggestions and feedback from the artists "out here" and is sincerely trying to create a quality product.




"Beach Cottages 1"
9" x 12" oil on linen panel

Whew! October was a month of travel and fun workshops for me! Against the advice of most artists, I signed up for 3 workshops in the same month. I love to paint plein air, and in the South, October is a fabulous month for that because of the milder weather. Plus, all of these workshops were with people that I have always wanted to study with and it was just convenient for me to go the places they were going to be. And also contrary to what most artists say, I am not AT ALL confused or messed up or whatever from the three different teachers and their varied painting styles. Unlike most people, I go to workshops for several reasons. One, is to meet other artists and chat and visit during the week about something we all love - painting and art. Another reason is just to visit different places. And then, of course, to learn. I love learning about things and especially about painting. I don't go to workshops to totally change the way I paint or think about painting. I always come away from a workshop with something I can carry over into my own journey, whether it is a small tip about supplies, brushstrokes, other techniques, colors, or some idea or theory that I have heard explained a thousand times before that finally "makes sense" to me after another instructor says it their way. Anyway, I am not recommending that anyone do what I did, because it was physically exhausting (haha!) but mentally fun and I wouldn't trade anything for my month of October 2011!

Lori's workshop in beautiful Apalachicola, FL, was sponsored by the Apalachicola School of Art, which is a wonderful organization that is just getting started holding workshops in this quaint little town. They are working on a website currently but you can find some information if you Google the name. They have held a plein air event there for the last several years, and we were able to see some of the fabulous artwork from some of these events hanging in the school.

Not only did I meet some fun people here that also took the workshop, but I had a blast painting the shrimp boats, marshes, and the other sites here. It is really a plein air painter's dream here with all the choices in painting subjects, and I hope to return here maybe for the plein air event next May to watch all of the artists that are there painting. I can also recommend taking workshops from this school. They are really welcoming and the whole town is accepting of art and artists, so look them up and see what they have to offer if you are interested in workshops at all. They are just getting started so keep an eye out on the growing schedule. 

As you may remember, I am starting a mentoring program with Lori in 2012, so I am taking any workshop I can with her now so that she will be familiar with my painting and what I need to work on as we begin the mentoring in January. As with the first workshop I did with Lori, she was again a wonderfully patient and giving teacher and I felt so inspired and encouraged by watching her demo and also by her advice at my easel. Below is a photo of her teaching before her demo the first day. 

We painted in several places in the area, including a morning in the studio because of the high winds and light rain on the final day. The painting you see above at the top of this post was on the beach one beautiful and sunny morning. Below is a photo of my set up and the painting after I was finished. Of course, the light had changed by then but you can get an idea of the beautiful place I was standing while painting.

Stay tuned this week for another fabulous workshop review about my next October workshop, Dee Beard Dean. Maybe I should do this for a job? Anyone want to hire me to take workshops and write reviews? Plein Air Magazine maybe? Now THAT would be a dream job!

And, I just couldn't resist a little Photoshop editing of the photo below! You will probably have to click on it and enlarge to see the "hazard" well. We painted one day after lunch on the side of a road with beautiful marshes on either side and really high winds! We shielded ourselves with our cars and our equipment and setup was truly tested. After we painted, Lori also did a demo in that spot. As I sat with my new friends and watched, I kept imaging "critters" climbing out of the water which was just a few feet away from us. Needless to say, this is not a "real" photo but one I am deeming "The Hazards of Plein Air Painting" just for fun! I know all of you plein air painters out there can think of other hazards from your past plein air experiences.




"Solitary Boat"
12" x 16" oil on linen panel

Last weekend, I participated in a workshop with Lori Putnam held in Nashville at LeQuire Gallery. It was a short, intensive, day and a half experience that I truly enjoyed! Lori is not only a fabulous painter, but an excellent instructor and fun person too! We began the workshop on Sunday afternoon and watched Lori demo from a plein air piece she had done on a recent trip to the Adirondacks in New York state. The demo was wonderful and Lori is one of those artists who can demo and talk about what she is doing at the same time, which helps artists like myself who always want to know why someone is doing what they are when painting.

The following day, we each painted from either a plein air piece we brought in or from a photo. The photo I used was given to me by a good friend who visited Jamaica earlier in the year and shared some wonderful photos with me to use for painting. After doing several thumbnail sketches to determine the best use of this photo as far as composition goes, I painted the piece above. I was pleased with my day and from the help and feedback I got from Lori. I also met some very nice artists too, which is always one of my favorite benefits of taking a workshop.

I am also excited about starting a mentoring program with Lori in January of 2012. She will mentor 6 artists and I am happy to be a part of that group! I am ready for some intensive focus and work and I know that Lori is the one that will provide that work for me on a regular basis. I do have a few exciting workshops this fall (two of them with Lori!) but as of January, I will be focused on consistent instruction from her. I always loved school, which is why I like workshops so much, and this will be a little like school for me!




In my quest for learning how to oil paint, I have come to the conclusion I know very little about color theory and usually just go on my "instinct" when painting and choosing colors. I have read some on my own, but knew all along I need to get serious if I am going to meet some of the goals I have set for myself in this painting journey.

One of the most inspiring and encouraging artists that I personally know is Lori Putnam, a Nashville artist whose work I both admire and drool over! See her website here. Her work is fresh, loose, and just absolutely beautiful. She also has a couple of small booklets (which you can purchase at her website) about oil painting, plein air painting, and color theory that I have purchased that I consider some of the best material I have read on these subjects. And believe me, I have a book addiction, and if I showed you a photo of my shelves of books relating to painting and art, you would know I know what I am talking about! Her booklets are full of little gems of information that I might have read or heard somewhere before, but her way of presentation just sticks with me. Sometimes it is like that with learning.

Lori also has a wonderful blog that includes some valuable posts on many subjects relating to painting, but some very good ones on making color charts and using a 3 color plus white palette like she does. Now I know there are probably countless posts and book chapters out there on chart making, and there is no one right way, but I decided to just go with this and do them. I was not convinced that I could possibly get this many colors with just one tube of each primary and white. However, after doing the charts with Lori's detailed instructions, I am convinced. As most artists are, I am a visual learner for the most part and learn best by doing.

The main thing I learned after doing this exercise was this - I don't have to have every color paint that the manufacturers make in my painting supplies to make beautiful paintings. Now, I know that sounds simplistic, but somehow before I did these charts, I thought that the people who painted with a limited palette or even an expanded limited palette were just somehow born with some sort of talent or sense of color that I was not born with and I could never learn it and would have to buy my own yellow ochre for the rest of my painting career. There is nothing wrong with using a ton of paint tubes, but if you aspire to plein air paint much, it makes it rather difficult and cumbersome to use 20 different tubes out in the field.

Will I only paint with these 3 colors from here on out? I'm not sure yet and also know that it doesn't really matter right now. Some of the best advice that every artist that I have studied with has been something along the lines of "this is the way I do it, but you must find your own style and way of doing things." Great advice!