Plein Air in the Smokies

icon of trees
Plein Air in the Smokies logo - blue
September 26 – October 2, 2022

Our 20 nationally-acclaimed artists are here painting throughout GSMNP for the week-long Plein Air in the Smokies! The inaugural Plein Air in the Smokies features 20 nationally-acclaimed artists who are painting “plein air” (outdoors) throughout Great Smoky Mountains National Park, September 26-30. A Plein Air ‘Quick Draw’ competition, which is open to any artist (age 14+) will be held Saturday morning, Oct. 1, in downtown Maryville, TN and is open to all artists. The event concludes with several opportunities to purchase art, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, which benefits Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).

Purchase Art at Clayton Center for the Arts this weekend!

FRIDAY: Pop-Up Sale, 10am-4pm, purchase paintings from the artists’ private collections (not painted in the Smokies).

SATURDAY: Ticketed Gala, 5:30-7:30pm, is your first opportunity to view & buy art painted in the Smokies Tickets are still available! Your $250 ticket can be applied toward the purchase of one painting at the Reception & Private Art Sale!

Get Your Tickets Now >>

SUNDAY: Public sale, 10am-2pm, purchase ‘Plein Air in the Smokies’ paintings & art from private collections.

Plein Air in the Smokies is presented by:

Meet the Artists of Plein Air in the Smokies

Plein Air in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

National Parks provide an inspiring place for artists to paint ‘en plein air.’ Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), located in Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina, is “world-renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture.” It is America’s most-visited national park. Weather and light composition can change rapidly in Great Smoky Mountains National Park so painting outdoors will be a challenge for the artists. Join us for the adventure as these world-renowned Plein Air artists travel to our beloved park to capture the energy and soul of the Smokies!  

What is ‘Plein Air’ Painting?

Plein Air painting, in its strictest sense, is the practice of painting landscape pictures outdoors. The purpose is to create intense impression of the open air (French: “en plein air”) in a landscape painting.

En plein air painting was essential for the Impressionist Movement to take place. Impressionism is the painting of what the artist interprets as taking place at a certain place at a certain time. It is the changing of the shadows, the shimmering of the water and the movement of people. Impressionists start and finish their paintings outdoors to be able to depict what they would later be so famous for – capturing their impression of life.

Proceeds Benefit Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Proceeds from the event will help fund several projects and programs that support the park’s efforts to preserve the historic and natural resources of the Smokies while providing a safe, enjoyable experience to over 14 million annual visitors. ‘Plein Air in the Smokies’ is presented by Lexus of Knoxville and Toyota of Knoxville and sponsored by RT Lodge and Anakeesta. For information on becoming a Friends of the Smokies sponsor of Plein Air in the Smokies, email Lauren@friendsofthesmokies.org.

Meet the ‘Plein Air in the Smokies’ Judge

The competition will be judged by Seth Hopkins, Executive Director of Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA, named the #1 Art Museum in America by the USA Today 10 Best Readers Choice awards program. Hopkins has served as a juror for competitions across the country, including the Plein Air Salon Art Competition, Olmsted Plein Air Invitational and the Arts for the Parks exhibition in Jackson Hole, WY.


Friends of the Smokies thanks our 2022 ‘Plein Air in the Smokies’ Committee:

Crissy Haslam, Honorary Chair

Nancy Daves, Chair

Dana Soehn, Park Representative   

Karen Bentz

Kay Clayton 

Sara Coker 

 Cindi DeBusk     

Traci Topham    

Mary Beth West

Melissa White

“Down the River”, Oil, Kathie Odom

How to Become a Sponsor

For information on becoming a Friends of the Smokies sponsor of Plein Air in the Smokies, email Lauren@friendsofthesmokies.org.