Plein Air Easton 2018 – An Outdoor Adventure for Art Lovers

Plein Air Easton (PAE), the largest and most prestigious outdoor painting festival and art competition in the nation, will take place in Easton this July 15 through 22. Celebrating its 14th year, the festival itself has become the epicenter of the modern plein air movement. Plein air painters from all over the world annually vie for just 58 juried slots to compete for tens of thousands of dollars in prizes and hundreds of thousands of dollars in art sales, not to mention friendship and national acclaim. Winning in Easton is a career-changing event for artists, who immediately see increased gallery and event invitations across the United States, as well as heightened interest from a larger group of collectors. The intense competition to stand out among the nation’s top painters has also been the catalyst for many trends that have shaped and refined the movement elsewhere.

Open application to the juried competition is encouraged, thus PAE has become the place to see the best of the best – renowned painters and emerging artists. Dr. David Levy (formerly both CEO of the Parson School of Design and Director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art) juried this year’s class of participants, which showcases many highly-regarded plein air artists, as well as the greatest number of new painters to the event in its history.

The competing artists will arrive in Easton on July 13 with stacks of blank canvases in hand, each awaiting the official PAE stamp. Their week to follow finds them capturing the beauty of the Eastern Shore landscape as they work both on their own and at events hosted by the festival. As happens each year, Talbot County comes alive with artists working in the field and with exhibitions celebrating some of the most accomplished plein air painters of our time. While the pros are striving to produce show-stoppers, numerous workshops and art demonstrations will ignite the love of art among seasoned collectors and nurture skills among budding artists. Plein Air Easton is an immersive experience: art collectors and artists spend meaningful time together at lavish parties and chatting across easels as works progress.

During PAE, the spotlight falls on the local thriving gallery scene and events targeted toward those eager to pick up paintbrushes themselves, then culminates in the vast collection, exhibit and sale of newly created art that encapsulates the beauty of the Eastern Shore. For a complete list of events, background on the competing artists and general information about the festival, visit While many of the ticketed events sell out quickly, most of the festival is free and open to the public.

Events not to be missed include:

  • July 14, Meet the Artists Dinner: Private Property, 7-9 p.m. (Ticket Required). The Meet the Artists Dinner is a lavish summer party held at a different and exclusive private estate every year. Patrons can roam the property, watch artists paint, enjoy a delicious meal under the stars and purchase the paintings produced in their midst.
  • July 20, Collectors’ Preview Party: Academy Art Museum, 7-9 p.m. (Ticket Required). After six days of intense painting en plein air, competitors select their two best pieces to be judged in PAE’s premier event. This is the opportunity to have first pick of the hundreds of paintings produced at the 2018 event. The pinnacle of the evening comes at 7:45 p.m., when Awards Judge, acclaimed artist Jill Carver, announces the winners. Everything is for sale and sales transactions are brisk as a painting is sold every 45 seconds for 90 minutes. However, winning paintings will remain on display throughout the weekend. The event is lively and fun; there is truly nothing like it anywhere else. The $250 ticket applies directly to painting purchases made all weekend.
  • July 21-22, Ongoing Exhibit and Sale: Academy Art Museum and Waterfowl Building. Enjoy hundreds of paintings created during Plein Air Easton, all available for sale.
  • July 20-22, Local Color: Tidewater Inn, Easton. An exceptional opportunity to view and purchase original art created in studio or en plein air by 42 working artists from around the Eastern Shore.
  • July 21, Quick Draw: Harrison Street, Easton. Painting from 10 a.m.-Noon, Exhibition and Sale from noon to 2 p.m. With more than 200 artists painting within just a few blocks, the energy behind the nation’s largest Quick Draw is intoxicating. Remember, everything about the Quick Draw is quick: once the exhibit ends, the paintings will not be displayed again, anywhere. Hint: BUY. Do not hesitate and do consider making an offer even before a painting is complete. Some artists have sold paintings even before a brushstroke has reached the canvas.
  • July 21-22, Artisans’ Market, Downtown Easton. An open air market featuring a variety of local artisans showcasing non-traditional art. Artisans’ Market can be found on the corner of South Harrison and Glenwood Avenue on Saturday, July 21 and lining Harrison Street on Sunday, July 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free admission and open to the public.
  • July 22, Next Generation Quick Draw and Art Stations, Harrison Street between Dover and South streets. This is a day designed to nurture the youngest artists in the family. This Quick Draw competition for designed for artists 18 years old and younger takes place from 10 a.m. to noon ($10 registration per artist), or, jump in on any of the free arts activities for kids from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • July 22, Small Painting Sunday Exhibit and Sale, Library at the Waterfowl Building. Small Painting Sunday begins promptly at 10 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. This is a singular opportunity to view, enjoy and purchase from among the 58 not-previously-exhibited 6”x 8” paintings as they are released for show and sale. All were painted on location during the week; these tiny jewels are hard to resist and are perfect for gifts or for new collectors. This event features live music, a light brunch, mimosas and Bloody Mary’s.
  • July 22, Plein Air Easton’s Judge’s Talk: Library at the Waterfowl Building. From 2 to 3 p.m., Jill Carver, this year’s competition judge, will explain her award choices in the festival’s culminating event. This is a great opportunity to learn what constitutes a winning painting, and the thought process behind the judge’s decisions.

Plein Air Easton is the work of the Avalon Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide diversified arts and educational programs that improve the quality of life on the Mid Shore. The event is supported by the Talbot County Arts Council, corporate donors, Friends of Plein Air Easton and strong community support. For more information, visit, email or call the Plein Air Easton hotline at 410-822-7297.


Plein Air Easton – The Exclusive Meet the Artists Party

Each year, the Meet the Artists Party is the opening event for Plein Air Easton. It is the social event of the summer for Talbot County and one of the most compelling experiences of the weeklong festival. The evening, held at a different private estate every year, is a chance to celebrate nature and art as they did in the gilded age of impressionist era painters, when patrons and collectors would explore an exquisite landscape while artists fashioned masterpieces in their midst.

This year’s Meet the Artist Event will be held at the home of Wayne Hockmeyer, Kirby’s Wharf Farm. Originally patented in the mid-1650s, the land that is currently known as Kirby’s Wharf Farm is a 500+ acre working farm with a rich history situated on the Choptank River, south of Trappe. It is named for the Kirby’s Wharf Steamboat Landing that was used for freight shipping in the late 1800s. The property features expansive 180˚ plus views of the Choptank River, as well as the town of Cambridge on the opposite shore. Classified as a nature sanctuary, wildlife abounds along the ponds, inlets and hedgerows of the farm. Eastern painted turtles sun themselves by the ponds, shorebirds wade along the marshes and bald eagles soar over the Choptank.

Anyone looking for a way to get caught up in the excitement of Plein Air Easton, this is it. This year, for the first time, tickets will be available to the general public for purchase. It is the best avenue by which to meet the competition artists, view and purchase art created just hours prior, enjoy a lavish dinner with live music under the stars and immerse oneself in the stunning waterfront landscape known as Kirby’s Wharf Farm.

Plein Air Easton is the work of the Avalon Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide diversified arts and educational programs that improve the quality of life on the Mid Shore. The event is supported by the Talbot County Arts Council, corporate donors, Friends of Plein Air Easton and strong community support. For more information, visit, email or call the Plein Air Easton hotline at 410-822-7297.


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Attraction July 2018 Cover