Plein Air Smokies

icon of trees

Presented by:

September 24-30 2023

‘Plein Air Smokies,’ once again brought 20 nationally acclaimed artists to paint “en plein air” (outdoors) throughout the national park. Artists were positioned across the park throughout the week, with locations such as Cades Cove on Monday and Elkmont on Tuesday and Wednesday.

These one-of-a-kind paintings were available for purchase first at the ticketed Collectors Soiree Sept. 29, then at the public sale Sept. 30. Proceeds benefit Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). 

2023 Plein Air Smokies Judge:
Marc Hanson

Award Winners:

Best of Show: Charles Newman, Contrejour
Artists Choice – Body of Work: Kathie Odom
Best Structure: Richard Sneary, The Architect’s House
Best Water: Christine Lashley, Tremont Cascade
Best Use Of Light: Marc Anderson, Dapple Dumpling Gang
Best Landscape: Richie Vios, Friends of Smokies

Quick Draw Award Winners:

1st Place, Open Division: Susan Duke Waters
2nd Place, Open Division: Donna Brumbergs
3rd Place, Open Division: Alex Eisenzopf

1st Place, Invited Artist Division: Charlie Hunter
2nd Place, Invited Artist Division: John Guernsey
3rd Place, Invited Artist Division: Shelby Keefe

Student Division Award Winners:

1st Place: Ava Jenson, Gatlinburg-Pittman High School
2nd Place: Rocio Valenzuela, Fulton High School
3rd Place: Raven Walker, Gatlinburg-Pittman High School

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram! #pleinairsmokies

2023 Plein Air Smokies Artists

For the 2023 event, artists were selected through a juror process. Over 100 artists across the country applied and 18 were selected to join last year’s Best in Show and Quick Draw winners, for a total of 20 participating artists.

Plein Air Quick Draw Art Festival

As part of the week-long “Plein Air Smokies” event, Friends hosted Quick Draw Competition and Art Sale in Maryville, TN. This engaging art festival included an ‘en plein air’ (outdoor painting) competition, exhibition, and sale, welcoming registered artists aged 14 and above.

The event took place Saturday morning, September 30, with the Quick Draw Competition taking place from 9 to 11 a.m., followed by awards presented at 11:30 a.m. and the Art Sale from noon to 2 p.m. The Theater in the Park, located at 325 S Court St, Maryville, TN served as the hub for registration, the competition, and the art sale. Artists were encouraged to paint throughout Downtown Maryville.

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!

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 millions of annual visitors.

Neal Huges paints at Plein Air in the Smokies 2022
Neal Huges paints at Elkmont during Plein Air in the Smokies 2022.

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.

Sponsorship Opportunities!

Sponsorship provides recognition for your support of Friends of the Smokies and offers additional benefits. Learn more about the benefits each level of sponsorship provides.

If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Lauren@friendsofthesmokies.org