Plein Air Smokies provides unique way to experience the Smokies

June 14, 2023

Plein Air Smokies 2023 logo

Plein Air Smokies 2023 will bring 20 acclaimed artists to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), Sept. 24-30, to create paintings that capture the beauty of the Smokies.

The outdoor art event, in its second year, will provide a unique and moving opportunity for visitors to experience the creation of one-of-a-kind art through in-park painting demonstrations.

Christine Lashley paints in Cades Cove during Plein Air in the Smokies 2022
Christine Lashley paints in Cades Cove during Plein Air in the Smokies 2022. Cades Cove will be a painting location for the invited artists during Plein Air Smokies 2023.

Invited artists for 2023

The 2023 Plein Air Smokies artists are: Marc Anderson, Suzie Baker, John Caggiano, Henry Coe, Vlad Duchev, John Eiseman, Bill Farnsworth, Martin Geiger, John Guernsey, Charlie Hunter, Shelby Keefe, Christine Lashley, Chuck Marshall, Charles Newman, Kathie Odom, Karen Philpott, Richard Sneary, Richie Vios, Stephen Wysocki and Jing Zhao.

The 20 artists were selected from the more than 100 entries.

Artists will be located throughout the national park painting ‘en plein air,’ which is the practice of painting outdoors.

Friends of the Smokies invites the public to learn more about the artists and the event at PleinAirSmokies.org. The website will be continually updated with details about the event and information about the artists.

Capturing and Sharing the Beauty of the Smokies

Dana Soehn, the new president and CEO of Friends of the Smokies, said, “This event celebrates the longstanding tradition of artists capturing and sharing the beauty of the Smokies in a way that meaningfully connects people to this special place.” 

These paintings will be available for purchase first at the ticketed Collectors’ Soiree Sept. 29, then at the public sale Sept. 30. Both events will be held in the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus.

Funds raised support GSMNP

Plein Air Smokies public sale
The artists’ paintings will be available for purchase at the ticketed Collectors’ Soiree and the public sale, held in the Clayton Center for the Arts.

Proceeds benefit Friends of the Smokies, the official nonprofit philanthropic partner of GSMNP, to support the park’s efforts to preserve and maintain the park.

“We at Friends of the Smokies take great pride in being stewards for this remarkable park that we call home to help ensure a healthy future for our park for decades to come,” said Soehn, who previously worked at GSMNP for more than 30 years.

Plein Air in the Smokies 2022 raised $270,000 for the Park.

This year, acclaimed artist, Marc Hanson, will judge the competition.  A naturalist at heart, Hanson has won many awards for his talents, including several Plein Air awards. He has shown his work in galleries and museums nationally and internationally since the early 1980s. Marc currently teaches landscape painting workshops across the country.

Quick Draw Competition

As part of the week-long “Plein Air Smokies” event, Friends of the Smokies will host a Quick Draw Competition and Art Sale on Saturday, Sept. 30, in downtown Maryville, Tennessee.

Quick Draw 2022 painters
Artists painted in the Maryville Greenway during the 2022 Quick Draw Competition.

The art festival will be an ‘en plein air’ competition, exhibit and sale. The painting competition is open to any artist over the age of 14 who registers for the event. The winner of the Quick Draw Competition becomes one of the invited artists for Plein Air Smokies 2024.

The Quick Draw is an immersive experience for both artists and spectators as the works progress over two hours from blank canvas to collectible art. It is also a connective experience, emphasizing Maryville’s location as a foothills community to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

New student art event

New to this year’s Plein Air Smokies, a limited number of selected students from two area schools will participate in the event through a pilot education program.

The middle and high school students, selected by their schools, will spend a day in Great Smoky Mountains National Park creating their own artwork with instruction from plein air artists on techniques unique to outdoor painting.

For more information about the event, visit Plein Air Smokies. 

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