From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Solomons Plein Air Festival

Solomons Plein Air Festival
September 17 – 21

Enjoy a weekend in beautiful Calvert County at the annual Plein Air Festival. What is Plein Air? Simply put, it is painting outdoors rather than in a studio. En plein air is a French expression, which means “in the open air” and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoor.

Artists have long painted outdoors, but in the mid-19th century working in natural light became particularly important to the Barbizon school and impressionism. The popularity of painting en plein air increased in the 1870’s with the introduction of paints in tubes. Previously, painters made their own paints by grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil.

It was during this period that the “Box Easel”, typically known as the French Box Easel or field easel was invented. These highly portable easels made treks into the forest and up the hillsides less onerous. Still made today, they remain a popular choice even for home use since they fold up to the size of a brief case and are easy to store.

French impressionists painters such as Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir advocated en plein air painting, and much of their work was done outdoors, in the diffused light provided by a large white umbrella. American impressionist painters noted for this style during this era included Guy Rose, Roer William Wood, Mary DeNeale Morgan, John Gamble, and Arthur Hill Gilbert. The popularity of outdoor painting has endured throughout the 20th Century and in the 21st century.

On the weekend of September 17 – 21st, you can observe painters painting en plein air along the banks of the Patuxent River in Solomons Maryland. The artists will paint for three days and some of the paintings will be for sale.

The schedule of the weekend is:
Sept 17 –21…Solomons Plein Air Festival Juried Painting Competition
Sept 16 – Tuesday 6pm…Juried Artists Registration
Sept 18 – Thursday 6 pm…NEW! Nocturnal Quick draw: Public Registration fee $25 (Cash Awards Presented)
Sept 20 – Saturday 10am…Paint the Town for a Cause. An Art From the Heart Public (Paint Out   Prizes and Awards)
Sept 20 – Saturday 6 – 9 pm…”Affaire of the Arts” Reception and Art Sale, Meet the Competition Artists, Enjoy live Music, Sip Wine and buy art to support 5 great causes.

These En Plein Air competitions are held throughout the country. Check out the one in Solomons. For more information go to

Written by: Bob Tagert

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