Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why I Like Plein Air Festivals

"A Grand Calm" 16x20 oil/panel - SOLD
by Michael Chesley Johnson
Studio Painting for the 2011 Grand Canyon "Celebration of Art"

I'm proud to announce that I just have been invited to participate in the 6th Annual Grand Canyon "Celebration of Art" plein air painting festival. This prestigious invitational, which happens in September of each year, draws patrons from all across the country. It sells well, too, thanks to the group behind it. Organized by the Grand Canyon Association, the event is a fundraiser with the goal of building an art museum on the Canyon's South Rim.* It's a very worthy cause, and I am honored that the GCA thinks that having me and my work will help.

Fundraising for a cause like this is one good reason to participate in a festival, but there are others. Professionally, participating puts more money in my bank account and gives me some great news for my marketing campaign. Plus, I always seem to pick up several new students and patrons, either while painting in the field or at the opening reception of the gallery show. I always come away a winner.

I have personal reasons for participating, too. The festival is an opportunity to reconnect with some old painting friends, to make some new ones and to paint in a beautiful place. What's more, a very positive energy blossoms that really helps the painting. There's nothing like it, really.

"Glorious Evening" 12x24 oil/panel - SOLD
by Michael Chesley Johnson
Studio Painting for the 2012 Grand Canyon "Celebration of Art"

This will be my fourth time invited but only my third time participating. I received an invitation for the 2013 event, but I had already made commitments to do a painting retreat in Nova Scotia, Canada, that same week. As much as I enjoyed the retreat, I felt the "call of the Canyon" the whole time I was following my painting friends on Facebook. I am very glad to be going back.

It's fun to find new events in new areas, too. This past summer, I was invited to the Castine Plein Air Festival in Maine, which was a blast. Next sumer, in June 24-29, 2014, I will be participating in "Paint it Beautiful," the first plein air festival in Montague, Prince Edward Island, Canada. I've not been to PEI before, and I'm really looking forward to it!

*I've had a personal tour of Grand Canyon National Park's art collection, which consists not only of works from important historical artists such as Thomas Moran and Gunnar Widforss but also of donations from artists in the artist-in-residence program. The works are stored on sliding racks in a warehouse. They really need space to breathe, and a museum would allow them to be shown in their full glory.

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