Plein Air in the Smokies: Artist Series, Part 3

September 2, 2022

Plein Air in the Smokies blog post header

by Julie Dodd

Plein Air in the Smokies will bring together 20 invited artists who will spend a week painting on location in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This inaugural event is being held Sept. 26 – Oct. 2, 2022. Funds raised will benefit the Park.

You can watch the artists painting — including scheduled times in Elkmont and Cades Cove — and purchase their work at a Gala/Reception and at other public showings of their art.

A Quick Draw competition in Maryville Oct. 1, will bring together the invited artists and other artists who register for the event. They will paint for two hours — in the downtown area or the Maryville Greenway — and then have their work judged for cash prizes.

Meet The Artists

This blog post introduces five of the invited plein air artists — Jake Gaedtke, John Guernsey, Neal Hughes, Charlie Hunter and Christine Lashley. This is the third of four blog posts to introduce the 20 artists.

Jake Gaedtke paints on edge of the Grand Canyon
Jake Gaedtke paints on edge of the Grand Canyon as part of the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art plein air event.

Jake Gaedtke

Bozeman, Montana

Why are you excited to paint at the Plein Air in the Smokies event?

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a place I have never been to. I have never been to this part of the country. It will all be new to me. There is nothing more exciting to me than exploring and getting to know a new place, especially a beautiful place like the Smokies.

I love painting in National Parks, and I am a huge believer and promoter of our National Parks. It will be so nice to add this beautiful Park to my list. I am also excited about meeting the other participating artists, many of whom I have never met. So, I look forward to meeting and making new friends.

What do you enjoy about plein air painting?

What I enjoy most about plein air painting is the connection I make with the land while I am painting. I take in all that I feel and see in those moments I am painting. It doesn’t matter the weather, as it’s all part of the experience. I can get very intimate with the land and absorb it all. It’s a very “in the moment” kind of experience. That experience of being out there is something I love the most. It doesn’t matter if I get a good painting or not because I am there to learn and to learn about nature and light and everything else that goes into plein air painting.

John Guernsey
John Guernsey paints near Carmel beach, California, as part of the Carmel Art Festival plein air event.

John Guernsey

Marietta, Georgia

Why are you excited to paint at the Plein Air the Smokies event?

I had quick trip through Cades Cove and Gatlinburg years ago and wished I had the time then to paint the beautiful rivers, creeks and mountains. 

What is something that those who view your art would be interested in knowing about you?

I was very much involved in music, studying and working as a pianist in Los Angeles in my twenties. I still play piano every day and believe it influences my work as an artist.  

Neal Hughes
Neal Hughes paints at the Flying Mountain Trailhead, Southwest Harbor, Maine.

Neal Hughes

Medford, New Jersey

Why are you excited to paint at the Plein Air in the Smokies event?

I am excited to paint in the Smokies because it is an area of the country I have not painted before. I have heard great things about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and I am looking forward to exploring the landscape there.

Charlie Hunter
Charlier Hunter paints in the La Junta, Colorado, railroad yard as part of the En Train Air trip in 2019.

Charlie Hunter

Bellows Falls, Vermont

Why are you excited to paint at the Plein Air in the Smokies event?

I’m excited about participating in the Plein Air in the Smokies event because I have hiked much of the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee and North Carolina and am enthusiastic about anything that helps create synergies between painting and environmental stewardship.

Those of us lucky enough to be blessed with this extremely strange skill set — the ability to smear paint on a surface to convincingly render a scene in two or three hours — are moved to do so by the beauty of the world. Thus, it’s nice to help do things to pass that beauty on to future generations.

What is something that those who view your art would be interested in knowing about you?

People might be interested to know that I am a lifelong advocate for passenger rail, and, with Larry Moore, created En Train Air, which, at least before Covid, was going to be a regular event whereby artists travel by train between Chicago and Santa Fe, stopping at five intermediate towns to paint for a day in each en route.

Christine Lashley
Christine Lashley paints at the Philip Carter Winery in Virginia.

Christine Lashley

Reston, Virginia

What do you enjoy about plein air painting?

I love painting on location because I feel like I learn something new from nature each time. I’m always looking for connecting shapes and warm and cool interlocking colors.

What is something that those who view your art would be interested in knowing about you?

Something people might not know about me is that I lived in Europe for four years. Many years later, I am still looking for opportunities to go back to visit my ‘hometown’ of Paris!

The first post in the series introduced plein air artists Suzie Baker, Greg Barnes, Carl Bretzke, Brienne Brown and Krystal Brown.

The second post introduced artists Roger Dale Brown, Jim Carson, Bill Farnsworth, Trey Finney and Beverly Ford Evans.

An upcoming post will introduce Dan Mondloch, Kathie Odom, Nancy Tankersley, George Van Hook and Dawn Whitelaw.