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Feb 21st
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Home People & Lifestyle Western Art Plein Air Series Invites Artists to Paint Arizona’s Treasures

Plein Air Series Invites Artists to Paint Arizona’s Treasures

Arizona State Parks and Tucson Plein Air Painters Society’s Annual ‘Paint Out’ Series

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If you love to paint the outdoors, and Arizona is one of your favorite vacation places, why not combine the two for a great Southwest getaway that might win you a prize?

Arizona State Parks, in conjunction with the Tucson Plein Air Painters Society, is again offering its Plein Air "paint outs," an open invitation to all artists, amateur and professional, to paint the treasures of Arizona State Parks.


Just Show Up and Paint

Artists are encouraged to bring a mat or frame for protection and enhancement of their painting. Artists then vote for the top three best paintings. During 2008, the winners received a two-night stay at a cabin or a yurt at one of Arizona's state parks and the appreciation of their peers.

These live outdoor painting competitions take place in four-hour blocks. After the painting period, the artists gather to judge their peers' completed work.

Artists are welcome to bring their easels, brushes, drop cloth, canvas and capture scenes around the park, and entrance fee is waived for participating artists.

The top three paintings from each "paint out" are entered in a annual gallery show. These paintings capture the magnificence of nature and also raise awareness of the need for artists, collectors and visitors to be stewards of parks, now and in the future.

The 2009 Gallery Show will be held at  the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park inside Otero Hall where the top three winners of each "paint out" from the 2008 series will be on display. The show runs January 10 to Febraury 1.

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Plein Air is a French term that means "in the open air." At Plein Air events landscape artists gather at a designated time to have their blank canvas and or papers stamped and then head out with packed easels, paints and brushes and trek into nature looking for inspiration in the wide open spaces with good light and fresh air to paint everyday scenery.

Contemporary Plein Air painters paint on site, getting down the lights and shadows and how they effect even everyday mundane objects. Some artists focus on the landscape, others paint a figure in the landscape.

Each artist will see the world a bit differently and that will show up on the final painting. Plein Air painters typically finish a piece in one painting session, trying to get down the shapes an shadows before the sun moves and changes the whole scene.

Many artists use their plein air works as studies and then create larger works in their studios using those studies as a reference. Those small works often are very fresh and loose, one of the many lovely things about plein air paintings.

Dates and park locations for the 2009 Plein Air events include:

History of the Program

The "paint outs" began as part of the Arizona State Parks 50th anniversary celebrations, 2006-2007. Arizona State Parks and the Tucson Plein Air Painters Society partnered to host a series of 10 Plein Air "paint outs" at many Arizona State Parks. An opening reception followed by a gallery show of the top 30 paintings from the 10 "paint outs" was held at Boyce Thompson Arboretum from January 5th to the 27th, 2008.

The Plein Air partnership and "paint out" series was so successful that a new series of 11 "paint outs" started in September 2007. The newly formed Arizona Plein Air Painter Society became a new partner.

The current series will be followed by gallery shows for the winners at Otero Hall at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park from January 10, 2009 to February 1, 2009, followed by another show at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale during the months of February and March 2009.

For more information, contact the state park you are interested in visiting by going to the Web site at

People & Lifestyle