Saturday, April 14, 2012

Plein Air Convention & Expo - Report

Ken Auster on the Big Screen

Tonight, I'm reporting from my hotel room in Las Vegas.  Although the First Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo began on Thursday, Trina and I didn't arrive until late that evening because of my teaching schedule.   But even so, we were up early because I wanted to to get to the convention center by 6:30 a.m. for Eric Rhoads' Marketing Boot Camp.  (Eric is the publisher of Plein Air Magazine.)  When we arrived bleary-eyed at the convention center, we were amazed.  The conference room was nearly filled with painters eager for Eric's early-morning advice!

And this set the tone for the last few days.  I don't know how many people are at the convention, but  the conference room, which is vast, has been filled to overflowing for each event.  Besides Eric's wonderful three-part series on marketing, I've been able to watch demos or to listen to lectures from such art world luminaries as Ken Auster, Matt Smith, Scott Christensen and Kenn Backhaus.  We also have had a special demonstration by Russian Master Nikolai Dubovik and a lecture on the history of plein air by noted American Impressionist scholar Jean Stern.  Each day has been packed with exciting and informative events, and it's been great to finally meet some of the folks I've admired through the pages of Plein Air Magazine.  I just wish I could have gotten here for the first day!

In addition, we've had a great trade show with vendors like Gamblin, Judson's Art Outfitters, King of Frame, Raymar Art and others.  Unlike some conventions, which have overwhelming numbers of vendors, it was nice to be able to attend a smaller trade show with vendors offering products that really matter.  I especially enjoyed meeting and chatting with Carl Judson and Robert Gamblin, who make the products I use every day.  I also enjoyed chatting with PAM editor Steve Doherty.  We've corresponded over the years, and it was great to meet him in person.  (Steve was given a Lifetime Achievement Award today from Plein Air Painters of America.  Congratulations, Steve!)

We've also had some impromptu art "happenings" here.  One day, Alexey Steele and Gil Dellinger set up shop on the trade show floor to paint Pierre Sennelier's portrait.  (Yes, Pierre is of the famous Sennelier family that supplied paint to Cezanne and Gauguin and invented oil pastels at the request of Picasso.)  One afternoon, extreme plein air painter Cory Trepanier arrived from Canada to give us a special showing of his new documentary, "Into the Arctic II."   I spoke to him afterward about the possibility of joining him on a trip with other painters to the Arctic.

Alexey Steele and Gil Dellinger Prepare to Paint Pierre Sennelier
Alexey Steele's Finished Portrait
Gil Dellinger's Finished Portrait
Today, Saturday, the lectures ended and it was time to go paint.  Although we had spitting rain Friday - a rare thing for Las Vegas - we had hoped it would end by the time we went out to paint today.  It didn't quite end, and we had bouts of drizzle and some pretty strong wind.  But who cared?  The mountains were just gorgeous with clouds and peek-a-boo sunspots.  I think all the painters were energized by the weather.  After I did my two paintings, I walked around a bit and was impressed by the quality of the work.

Painters at Spring Mountain Ranch
Me on Location, Here and Below

Tomorrow, it's off to Bonnie Springs for one last morning of painting.  The weather promises to be sunny.  I'll report on the last day when I have time to write.

By the way, Eric Rhoads announced the location for the 2013 Second Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo.  It'll be near Pacific Grove, California, at Asilomar.  I'm enjoying this year's so much, I hope I get invited back for the next one!


28pwilson said...

Asilomar is a beautiful location very close to Carmel. I went to a convention there several years ago. The coast line is fantastic. Thanks for posting from the convention.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

I agree - Asilomar and area is very beautiful. Should be some great painting!

Lynne said...

Big crowds of painters is fun, no doubt. But if you want to paint with a small group of great artists in an area that is FABULOUS and undiscovered come and paint with us at the Plein Air Artist Retreat 2012 this year. Go to for details under Art Stuff. See last years PAAR2011 video made by Nikolai Kraneis of Berlin who attended. Sept 21-23rd.