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Plein Air ‘Quick Draw’ Art Festival


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Plein Air in the Smokies logo - blue

Plein Air Quick Draw Art Festival

Maryville, Tennessee

As part of the inaugural week-long “Plein Air in the Smokies” event, Friends of the Smokies will host a Quick Draw Competition and Art Sale in downtown Maryville, TN. The art festival will be an ‘en plein air’ (outdoor painting) competition, exhibit and sale. It is open to any registered artist over the age of 14.

Photo courtesy of Dan Mondloch

WHEN: Saturday, October 1st

TIME: 9 to 11 a.m.

Awards presented 11:30 a.m. | Art Sale Noon to 2 p.m.

WHERE: Greenbelt Pavilion in Jack Greene Park / Artists can paint throughout Downtown Maryville, click here for map

ARTIST REGISTRATION: Register online or download & print the form along with payment ($30 registration fee).  For day-of registration, print the form and bring to the registration table at Jack Greene Park between 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. 

Event Details

The Quick Draw art festival is an immersive experience for both artists and spectators as the works progress from blank canvas to collectible art. We’re hoping to bring hundreds of artists to blanket the streets of downtown Maryville (click here for map) as they compete for thousands of dollars in prizes. Following the 2-hour painting period (9am to 11am), the artists will return to the Greenbelt Pavilion in Jack Greene Park with their freshly-painted works of art to be judged by Seth Hopkins, the “Plein Air in the Smokies” event judge. All Quick Draw paintings will be available for purchase.


About Maryville, Tennessee

The Quick Draw art festival will be held in Maryville, Tennessee, which is situated between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville. Maryville is located in the foothills of the Smokies where Chilhowee Mountain rises prominently to the south. Chilhowee’s eastern flank – known locally as “The Three Sisters” – is visible from almost anywhere in the city.

The Maryville Greenway follows along picturesque Pistol Creek and through downtown Maryville. Plein Air artists participating in the Quick Draw can paint within a set boundary along the Greenway from Jack Greene Park, through Downtown Maryville and parts of Bicentennial Park.

View the Map >>

Maryville’s Greenbelt Pavilion in Jack Greene Park along Pistol Creek

‘Plein Air in the Smokies’ Inaugural Event

The ‘Quick Draw’ competition is part of our inaugural ‘Plein Air in the Smokies’ event, which will bring 20 nationally-acclaimed “plein air” artists to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Throughout the week, artists will be painting outdoors in various areas of the national park. The art competition and public sale benefits Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).

In-park painting demonstrations will take place Sept. 26-30. A ‘Quick Draw’ competition will be held Saturday morning, Oct. 1, in downtown Maryville, TN and is open to all artists. The week will conclude at Clayton Center for the Arts in Maryville, TN with judging and a ticketed gala sale on Saturday evening, Oct. 1, followed by a public sale on Oct. 2

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.


Artist Kathie Odom paints ‘en Plein Air’ at Grand Teton National Park.

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.

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!  


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.