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!




This past weekend, I participated in a painting trip with 5 other artists from the Nashville area. I belong to a group there called The Chestnut Group  (follow link to see some FABULOUS work from the members and read about this wonderful organization) and although this was not an official group trip, all of the artists are also members of this wonderful group of artists. The participants of this trip above are (from left) me (yes I was blinking when the camera took the photo!), Claudia Williams, Cynthia Crook, Roger Dale Brown, Beverly Ford Evans, and Cathleen Windham.

We stayed in a cabin there with this beautiful stream right out the back door! Needless to say, there were many painting opportunities all around us and we took advantage of that and painted for three days. I came home with several studies I plan to enlarge back in the studio this winter. Below is one of my almost finished pieces from the trip. I hadn't gotten to the red truck peeking out of the door to the barn when it was time to move on! We had such a blast loading up in Roger's truck and laughing all the way to the next painting stop. It is truly one of the things I love most about this painting journey I am on - meeting new people who all enjoy and understand the love of art and painting!

I always love seeing other artists post their work in the place they painted it when doing plein air work, so I remembered to take one of my own this time!

I have also posted some other photos from the trip on my Facebook art page Smoky Six Trip Photos, so take a look there for more inspiring photos of the beautiful state of Tennessee!  I am off tomorrow to paint in a workshop with the fabulous Lori Putnam on Florida's Forgotten Coast (Apalachicola) so look for more painting fun next week!




 8 x 10 plein air version
16 x 20 enlarged studio version

Last year, I was fortunate to take a workshop from Dawn Whitelaw, a marvelous teacher who has mentored so many talented artists over the years I can't even name them all! She is not only a gifted artist herself, but her gift of teaching and kind spirit made the week long "Bootcamp" workshop a joy for me and a memorable experience.

At this plein air workshop (painting outside from life, for those readers who don't know what that is!), the workshop participants went out with a buddy in the early mornings (it was summer in Nashville with the daily temperatures to go along with that!) and paint a small study of a subject. We would also go out in the afternoons and do the same. Both of these times were good to capture that special "light" you can only get in the morning and the late afternoon and evening. Then, we would take our small studies into the studio from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm and work with Dawn to choose those that "work" and paint them again on larger canvases. It was a great learning tool and a good thing to practice for people who enjoy painting plein air and also want to do some larger canvases. Dawn would also spend time each day instructing the group on various painting related topics and doing demos, which were just amazing to watch and so helpful. Anyway, despite the exhaustion I felt at the end of each day of bootcamp, I would not trade anything for the time spent with this wonderful teacher and artist. If you ever have the chance to take a workshop from her, do it!

I show these two paintings to illustrate one of my exercises. The small one is 8x10 (done outside in the open air) and the larger one is the one worked on back in the studio. The great thing about this technique is that you don't have to try to finish a large canvas outside with all the light conditions constantly changing, and you also learn things painting the scene the first time that you either correct on the larger canvas or improve upon if needed.  I have learned to look at these smaller studies as a kind of note taking for the larger canvases. However, I will also point out that the smaller studies sometimes have a freshness that you don't end up getting sometimes in the larger paintings. Either way, it is a great practice and I have learned so much from painting like this when doing plein air painting.