Paint St Louis Plein Air Festival May 18-20 2018 | Arts and Education Council of St. Louis

Art takes Nature as its model ​(Aristotle) Plein Air Painting makes the art of nature tangible.


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Paint St Louis Plein Air Festival May 18-20 2018

Art and nature come together in many exciting ways, one of which is plein air painting. While popular in the 1800s, plein air painting fell out of favor in the 1900s with a shift away from realism. Today, plein air painting is seeing a resurgence with a trend toward the environmentally conscious artist and collector. While there are several local plein air events in the area, there are no events drawing nationally recognized artists and art collectors to the beautiful Midwest except to Door County in July or Texas in October.

The Academy of Nature and Wildlife Arts is a 501(c)3 developed to create opportunities to explore the art AND science of ecology in the same class, workshop or event. The purpose of the Academy of Nature and Wildlife Arts is to bring art and nature together to make a positive contribution to our culture. Therefore a Paint St Louis Plein Air event is a logical project to highlight positives about St Louis on a regional and national stage, show off the natural beauty of the many ecological systems in the immediate area, provide a venue for the many top Midwestern plein air artists to highlight their part of the country and provide an opportunity for the public to watch artists at work.

The Paint St Louis Plein Air Festival is our fundraiser celebrating the tradition of outdoor painting combining art and science in its most natural format. The event has two components, the invitational and the open. The invitational will be 10-15 nationally recognized artists who paint "on the circuit". The open class is available to all artists. In association with St Louis County Parks and the Missouri Botanical Garden, the invited and open class artists will be able to paint the Botanical Garden at sunrise, the working farm at Suson Park and Laumeier Sculpture Park on Friday, the Bissell House at sunrise, Confluence Park and Fort Belle Fontaine for quick paint of sunset over the river bluffs on Saturday, and Faust Park Historic Village and Carousel as well as Lone Elk Park on Sunday before turning the work in to be judged at 2PM on Sunday. Following the judging there will be an awards ceremony with the show and sale to follow.

All events are open to the public except the sunrise painting at the Botanical Garden. There will be a 'meet the artists' reception on Friday evening where the public will have the opportunity to preview Friday's paintings. Sunday will host the Explore the Arts Family event where children will be able to try plein air painting as well as explore dance, theater, music, voice, writing and pottery/sculpture combining art with nature.

As a retired pediatric physical therapist, I spend a great deal of time as a volunteer with the Master Gardeners as well as Master Naturalists. I am also a volunteer with the Missouri Department of Conservation. However, I use that science background to bring the arts back into the process of asking questions and finding understanding. Where the information explosion of the 1800s required educators to simplify teaching the information into discrete subjects, current complex issues require the reintegration of science and art to explore solutions from a variety of perspectives. ​Per Albert Einstein: After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are artists as well. But the scientists need to relearn the arts. The Academy programs provide the experiences to reintegrate art and science. The Paint St Louis Plein Air Festival was developed to fund those programs. 

While many sponsors have contributed to creating this event, there are still out of pocket expenses of $25,000. This crowd funding will support the immediate costs of this event including the national advertising, deposits, and supplies.