Saturday, April 26, 2014


So I've been home a week and have had time to process everything that happened last week in Carmel when I attended my first plein air convention along with 700 other like minded folks. It takes a while to absorb everything because it goes by so fast, but if you can imagine what it feels like being six years old as you walk through the front gates of Disney World, then you have some idea of how I felt for five straight days.

The Plein Air Convention is the brainchild of Streamline Publishing owner Eric Rhoads. In conjunction with Streamline's Plein Air Magazine and editor Steve Doherty, he has taken plein air painting into the mainstream of art culture.

Eric Rhoads and Yours Truly

Getting to the convention was a trip in itself. Once I landed in Los Angeles my plane sat on the tarmac for an hour and I missed my connection to Monterrey. When I was told it would be six hours until the next flight I immediately headed to Hertz to rent a car figuring I'd much rather drive up the Pacific Coast Highway than sit in a terminal.

Only in LA can you rent a Lamborghini for a day for mere $3,000 a day. I passed and got a Toyota Tercel.

Back to the convention. Kevin MacPhearson gave one of the most entertaining keynote speeches I ever heard to open the convention. Then I had the chance to meet Kevin and Wanda which has been a long time goal of mine. 

Each day started with the Marketing Boot Camp led by Eric Rhoads who is an impressive and convincing speaker. I took excessive notes to the point that my head hurt. After Boot Camp the rest of the day was spent mingling in the hall with all of the product suppliers and watching demos by many of the painters I admire most.

Without a doubt the very best part of the convention is to finally meet and spend time with other artists I've been Facebook friends with for years and whose work I truly admire. 

Christin Coy on my right and Lori McNee on my left.

Lori Putnam

Charles White

Bryan Mark Taylor

Kate Starling and Kathleen Dunphy

Did I say meeting all my Facebook friends was the best part. No that's not it. Watching all of these great demos was the best part. Sometimes there were several going on at once so you had to move from room to room to catch them all.

Randy Sexton and Larry Moore painting in tandem

There was a main stage where the artists did their demos and then to each side were two large high def screens that showed the artists up close and for the first time there was a palette cam that showed the artist's palette as they worked.

Shot of the screen showing a close up of Randy Sexton's painting.

Marcia Brutt and Kate Starling on stage together.

Shot of the big screen with Marcia working on her painting and another camera on Kate's painting.

Joseph McGurl discusses his palette. First time I had seen this chap's work. Absolutely stunning plein air painter.

The Daniel Gerhartz demonstration was worth the price of admission. Painting from a live model his verbalization of what he was doing while he was doing it was priceless.

In addition to the main stage were two other rooms for demonstrations. Even though there was some overlap if you planned your day carefully you didn't miss any of them.

Shelby Keefe

Gene Constanza

John Burton

Lori Putnam

Bryan Mark Taylor

Rosemary shows how her brushes are hand-made

The Lifetime Achievement presentation for Richard Schmid by his daughter Molly was a touching tribute to one of our favorite painters. Molly gave us a rare glimpse of the man behind the brush and showed many samples of unpublished and some never before seen paintings.

Did I say the demonstration paintings was the best part of the convention. I was wrong. Each day the convention closed down and everyone headed out to a specific location to paint. You could either paint or move from one presenter to another and watch them paint. How many opportunities do you have to watch the best plein air painters on the planet painting together in a single location? Never right? 

Brian Blood painting with Kate Starling

Jesse Powell trying to get a good picture of Brian's painting

Brian Blood

Kate Starling

Thomas Kitts painting with Daniel Gerhartz

Gerhartz and Kitts

Painting elsewhere on the beach were Kathleen Dunphy, Joseph McGurl, Lori Putnam, Brenda Boylan, Camille Przewodek, James McVicker, Timothy Tien, Aaron Schurer, John Burton, Gene Constanza, Larry Moore and I'm sure others I just didn't get to.

You may be asking whether or not I got any painting done. And the answer is yes, but that will have to be in my next post.

All I have to say is the convention was a life affirming, life altering event for me and I can't wait to go back next year.