Plein Air Events: Art Festival or Contact Sport?

"Intertwined", Oil on panel, 9 x 12

“Intertwined”, Oil on panel, 9 x 12

Spring is around the corner though the six feet of snow outside my kitchen door makes me doubt that it will ever arrive.  With the advent of Spring comes the promise of another Plein Air Festival season across the country.  I am both amused and taken aback at how some of these plein air events have morphed into something that resembles a professional sports event rather than a celebration of painting outdoors.  The pressure to produce something that “looks like a photo!” and is ready to hang on the wall in three hours or less (ONE hour for the Quick Draw!) seems to be antithetical to the whole purpose of painting outside.   Painting outside for me is a chance to slow down and notice things I would not ordinarily take note of and to put down in paint or pastel my reaction or thoughts to what is front of me. Of course, the whole point of a plein air festival is to get a big body of work before a big body of collectors but it does seem the goal has shifted from quality to quantity in less than 20 strokes.  My painting has changed over the last couple of years.  My technique is more methodical and slow since I paint in an indirect manner and use my plein air time for study rather than production.  So, maybe I have to forgo the sports season this year.  What do you think?  I would love to hear from you .                        – Eden

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3 thoughts on “Plein Air Events: Art Festival or Contact Sport?

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