Visual Arts

Plein Air Retreat and Rendezvous Comes to Heber Valley This September

John Hughes painting plein air in the Heber Valley.

Midway Art Association, the folks that bring us the annual Plein Air Paradise painting competition in early July, will hold the first  “plein air rendezvous and retreat” Sept. 13-16. Artists of all levels are invited to learn and paint with professional plein air painters for three days, then show and sell their work in Midway’s City Hall.

The artist faculty for the event are members of Plein Air Painters of Utah, co-host of the event. Students will watch and learn from plein-air rock stars like Steve Stauffer, John Hughes, Susette Gertsch, John Poon, Bryan Mark Taylor and Dave Koch. Rob Adams and Tom Howard will demonstrate nocturne painting. Gertsch and Mike Malm will demonstrate figure painting in the landscape. And Susan Gallacher, Becky Hartvigsen and Dave Dean will demonstrate still life painting.

Students will paint mornings and afternoons on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Friday evening, students and faculty will mingle at a banquet, followed by setting up the art show that will be open to the public Saturday. During Saturday’s art show, faculty and students will paint outside City Hall while visitors watch. Go to for the complete schedule and registration information.

The price of the event is $300, a real bargain considering there are 16 instructors, each with his/her own style, to watch and learn from. Accommodations, lunches and dinners are participants’ responsibility.

According to Susette Gertsch, one of the event organizers, special help is available to novices who have little or no plein air experience. “We’re offering a pre-event workshop online and it will help prepare them so they’re not coming in cold for the event,” says Gertsch. The online information will include supplies they will need to bring.

At the event itself, students will be divided into teams with three or four instructors per team. While one or two instructors demonstrate painting techniques, the other instructors will coach  students. “Most of our instructors are accustomed to teaching novices, so they will get extra help if they want it,” says Gertsch. Students also may choose to watch a demonstration instead of painting. During the four-day event, there will be five outdoor painting sessions. Students will rotate among teams so that each one may meet and be coached by all the instructors.

Gertsch says that most of the instructors have attended the National Plein Air Convention, and they are incorporating best practices from the national event. “Our event will be even better and more intimate,” says Gertsch. Participants with all levels of expertise will have ample opportunities to learn and practice what they need.

Paint out at Midway town hall.

Interested participants are encouraged to respond to a questionnaire with their specific interests. From this, Gertsch and other faculty will know, for example, if there are watercolorists and pastel artists as well as oil painters. The faculty includes some who can teach any of those mediums and they will plan accordingly. The questionnaire also asks whether participants have other special needs, such as painting indoors rather than outside.

People who already have signed up are from Hawaii, Texas, Ohio and many other states as well as Utah and neighbor states. Gertsch guesses there may be as many as 80 people, an excellent start for this first event they plan to be annual.






Categories: Visual Arts

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