Plein Air in the Park

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Event Details | Sponsors


September 25 – October 2, 2022

presented by:

The inaugural Plein Air in the Park will bring 20 nationally-acclaimed “plein air” artists to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to capture the beauty and magic of the Smokies. Throughout the week, artists will be painting outdoors in various areas of the national park.  The week will conclude with judging and a gala sale of plein air masterpieces created in the Smokies. Plein Air in the Park is open to the public so plan to join us for this unique opportunity to celebrate and support Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Meet the Artists of Plein Air in the Park

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!  

About Plein Air

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.

GSMNP ‘Plein Air in the Park’ Event Details

‘Plein Air in the Park’ is an outdoor art competition and public sale featuring 20 nationally-acclaimed artists who will be stationed throughout Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) for in-park painting demonstrations Sept. 26-30. The week will conclude at Clayton Center for the Arts in Maryville, TN with judging and a ticketed gala sale on Oct. 1, followed by a public sale on Oct. 2

The event benefits FOREVER PLACES, a fund created by Friends of the Smokies to support the park’s efforts to preserve and maintain historic cabins, churches, mills and barns throughout the park. ‘Plein Air in the Park’ 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 Park, email Lauren@friendsofthesmokies.org.

Meet the ‘Plein Air in the Park’ 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 Park’ 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 Park, email Lauren@friendsofthesmokies.org.