FAQ 2018-07-23T09:56:06+00:00

Answers to Your Important Questions About the Plein Air Convention

Plein air is a French term for “outside or outdoors”. The French coined the term plein air painting (technically: painting en’ plein air), which means painting outside in nature.

There is a huge movement of painters participating because it’s fun to paint on location (though it is different than studio painting), fun to paint with others and make friends, and fun to travel to beautiful spots to create paintings. The convention is all about plein air painting, teaching painting, going outside to paint, and offering supplies.

Your registration fee allows you to access every regular convention session, all demonstrations, the expo hall, the daily paint-outs, and all social events, as well as a continental breakfast each morning. You have full access to four stages and can come and go as you please. We do offer an optional pre-convention workshop and a basics course for an additional fee.

Registration DOES NOT include hotel and all meals

Please note that the hotel has several dining options. Time is limited on our lunch breaks, so get out and get back fast! You’re on your own for all meals other than the continental breakfast each morning during Art Marketing Boot Camp.

The Plein Air Convention will be held at a 5 star hotel in the downtown area.

We do not disclose the actual location until after you register because in the past others not attending the convention got a hold of our discounted rate and people actually attending PACE were not able to get rooms. For this reason, we do not advertise the hotel until your are a registered attendee.
We will be going out painting each day— all painting locations are within about 20 minutes to an hour’s drive. We don’t provide any transportation, and we encourage carpools so you can get to know others, and because there are always more painters than parking spaces!
If you need a ride, our on-site Help Desk can work with you to find drivers willing to provide rides to and from the painting sites.
If you prefer some independence to come and go as you wish, then you may want to consider renting a car when you arrive, and if you have room, offering a spot to another painter!

This event is “one price includes all,” and there is no single-day rate. Unfortunately, we cannot tie up seats that otherwise would be sold.

We will refund 50% of the registration fee for cancellation on or after December 31, 2018.
No refunds on or after February 26, 2019.

  • Cancellation today – 12/31/18 = 100% Refund, less a $50 processing fee
  • Cancellation  1/1/19 – 2/25/19  = 50% Refund, less a $50 processing fee
  • Cancellation on or after 2/26/19 = 0% Refund

Of course. Although most of our sessions are geared toward artists, collectors are welcome to attend. There will be some discussions about art history and collecting. Best of all, you can interact with the artists and watch them paint on paint days, and we have an art show where you can buy loads of paintings! Though you must register to attend the convention if you wish to attend sessions, you can visit the art show and the expo hall without a ticket.

Yes, as a paid registrant. Many galleries have attended to connect with or meet artists, and to attend the Art Marketing Boot Camp sessions, which are worth the price of admission. Though you must register to attend the convention if you wish to attend sessions, you can visit the art show and the expo hall without a ticket.

Yes, Art Marketing Boot Camp, conducted by publisher Eric Rhoads, is a no-charge bonus for those registered for the convention. The sessions start each morning at 6:30 am and last until 7:45 each morning. Rhoads’ is known for delivering a lot of valuable insights and we recommend taking notes.

You’ll need a travel case that won’t break when you check it (or ship it) on the airplane. Oil paints are approved by TSA and Homeland Security, BUT you should label the outside of the box to say it contains vegetable oil-based paint (LINSEED) and that it has an approved flash point. Do NOT ship mineral spirits or solvents on the plane. We’ve created a label that you can download and use during your travel right here. You will need to pick up whatever else you need locally, though some vendors in the Expo Hall may be offering samples or sale of mineral spirits.

If you’re already a painter you know that you cannot easily take your “studio” outside, therefore experienced plein air painters have developed condensed outdoor studios that they can carry in a backpack or roller bag. This consists of a portable easel (there are many types) paints, canvas panels, shade umbrellas, and various tools.

If you’ve never painted, or if you paint but have never plein air painted, we recommend our optional Plein Air Painting for Beginners Course The BASICS OF PLEIN AIR, which is held the full day before the opening of the convention. This course describes the differences in equipment, the paints, and demonstrates various types of painting such as oils, pastels, watercolor, etc. You must be a registered attendee to attend and there is an optional fee. You can register here: https://streamlinepublishing.com/s/product/2017-plein-air-convention-basics-course-2/

The  hotel lobby and pool areas always have a lot of people hanging out, often till the wee hours. It’s the place to be and one of the reasons you want to stay on campus so you don’t miss the fun. We also have evening sessions, which are after dinner and often go till 10 PM and also offer nocturne sessions. This year, following the Santa Fe Plaza paint outs we will have having a Gallery Walk on Canyon Road – a street lined with galleries.

We have found that some people cannot get enough, so they want to be busy from morning to late night. We aim to please, so we have early morning marketing sessions, then educational sessions most of the day, then we go painting together, and then we have some evening sessions. Then, of course, the bar after, if you wish. Take it at your own pace (excuse the pun). Only you know what pace you can keep up. If you want to opt out for a nap or a break, we’re ok with that.

People are used to workshops where they can see things upclose, yet even with 15 people, someone cannot see properly. We solved that with close up cameras and big screen video. When I say big, I mean really really big.

The convention ballroom has GIANT HIGH-DEFINITION VIDEO SCREENS showing what the video cameras picks up (a closeup of the painting surface and sometimes the palette). You’ll be able to see better than you normally can, and if you can find a seat up close, we you can do that too. Each of our four stages has a big screen and cameras.

Absolutely. When we go painting we ask our field painters or field mentors to look for people wanting help or critiques. They are easy to spot… bright hat, big sign and a flag. You can set up next to them or you’ll see them roving around to help. And we give you a bright pink card. When you see one, WAVE THEM DOWN and they will work with you individually.

We have a WATER MEDIA TRACK (watercolor and other water-based media) with some of the top water media artists in the world. This has a dedicated classroom and big-screen viewing for about 200 water media painters, and sessions will run the full length of the convention (after opening night). You will fully be a part of the entire convention and can come and go to all other sessions at the convention and have full access to the Expo Hall. You are part of the convention, you just have your own track.

We have a PASTEL TRACK with some of the top pastel artists in the world. This has a dedicated classroom and big-screen viewing for about 200 pastel painters, and sessions will run the full length of the convention (after opening night). You will fully be a part of the entire convention and can come and go to all other sessions at the convention and have full access to the Expo Hall. You are part of the convention, you just have your own track.

We have FOUR stages. Main stage is where all the keynotes and speakers and main presentations will be, plus the oil demos. The DEMO STAGE is a forth stage, which accommodates additional painting demonstrations.

The convention may have a lot of attendees but it feels small. f you don’t have any friends there, you soon will. Everyone gets acquainted easily through the various networking events including an OPENING ORIENTATION that matches up people with new friends so you can have dinner or lunch groups to get acquainted. People who have attended knowing no one have told us they made new friends. We’ve also been told by people attending who were worried about the convention’s size that they could see well, it did not feel crowded, and, in fact, they felt like part of a giant family of their tribe.

Actually, painters of ALL LEVELS are welcome and attending. There are lots of painters, at every stage from beginner, moderate, intermediate and highly accomplished. As one pro said last year to a beginner, “We were all beginners, we all struggled to learn, we all had to practice, and we used to be intimidated too. You are with family. No one will judge you here.” You will be very comfortable. We’ve had dozens of people who had never painted before, and many more who had painted, but never en plein air. We made them all feel comfortable. They are not judged. Some bought their easels and paints at the convention and painted for the first time. We highly recommend the Basics Course, which will help you feel more secure.

We have a show of ATTENDEE and FACULTY paintings. When you register, you have the option to rent a display easel. Paintings will be available for purchase and the show will be promoted to the general public. If your painting sells you can put another on your easel, and there is a possibility you can underwrite some or all of your cost to attend.

Keep an eye on the agenda and the speakers page; this always changes rapidly as we add new people. We will have onstage demos and panels, plus many brilliant painters in the field doing on-location demos, including some of the top painters in the world.

You are welcome to ask any faculty member for a critique, especially the days we are out painting. All have been asked to participate, though it is up to the individual painter. We will also have a formal critique session in the evenings, which will be chosen on a draw.

No. One price covers all educational events during the convention. We do have two optional pre-convention workshops, which do require a separate payment.

First check with your accountant, but you may be able to write off the expense of attending a convention for professional improvement. Also, we have arranged for payment plans, which will expire the closer we get to the convention. And if you sell a painting at the show, it might cover some or all of your expenses. But consider this an investment in your career and your painting ability. You will see improvement.

Yes! We have had from painters in faraway places like New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, France, Australia, Europe, China, and Saudi Arabia who have attended and make this a truly international affair!

You can bet on it. Though this is an event for painters, this kind of event is bound to attract some curious collectors and gallery professionals.

Absolutely. We’ve invited suppliers, vendors, workshop promoters, framers, and others to show their wares in our Expo Hall — we have a giant hall with more vendors than ever. Most vendors offer special deals. You’ll be able to buy paint, brushes, frames, books, easels, supplies, and many other items. Our exhibit hall and the number of vendors is larger than ever.

Think of this as the ultimate gathering of plein air painters (and many other kinds of painters). It’s a place to meet other painters, see the various products, and to learn and expand your ability as an artist. You will arrive, pick up your badge at our registration table, and then have free time, depending on when you arrive. You can attend our new attendee orientation, then attend the opening ceremonies and then the opening cocktail reception and spend a couple of hours meeting other painters (and new friends).

Once our sessions begin, you’ll go to the main stage or the stage of your choice, where you can pick a seat and watch what happens onstage. There will be big-screen video so you can see well no matter where you sit. Demos, panels, and speakers will be onstage and you’ll get loads of opportunities to see the best painters in the world at work.

We have figurative artists on the agenda, and there are often people inside the convention center painting still life and portraits. Many figurative painters have found that plein air painting is an important discipline because it teaches color, form, and light.

Very casual. We want you to be comfortable, plus you’ll be painting, so it’s OK to wear paint clothes. The building will have AC on, so it may get cool in the main ballroom.

We have lots of new items in our PleinAir Store. Hats, shirt, patches, books, and some special discounts on DVDs.

As always, you’ll find people wanting to paint others while inside. First, know that if there is any damage or spillage, you will be personally responsible to the hotel, so you’ll want a dropcloth. Also, we don’t recommend painting in your room — but if you do, the hotel will hold you responsible for any damage.

Sure. Bring ’em along and show them to whomever you wish. Some may bring paintings into the hotel after paint days. But you should sign up for our Art Showcase so you can show and sell your paintings.

You may wish to bring a notepad to take notes or a camera to take pictures. Video is prohibited.

Video and audio recording are prohibited. We have many videos for sale at the store from many instructors.

Special Information for Attendees

What to bring to the convention?


  • light rain coat/windbreaker
  • warm clothes and items that you can layer – we don’t know what the weather will do!
  • do plan to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes during the paint-out sessions
  • sunscreen
  • a good hat with a wide brim-keeping the sun off of your neck as well as out of your eyes
  • consider wearing pants instead of shorts or a skirt. The desert is full of sharp scratchy plants


Unless you are driving, the TSA will not allow solvent in carry on or in checked baggage. Solvent will be available at the event from Gamblin at their booth. They will also collect and recycle the used solvent. Bring a vessel to store it in once there.

Items you can bring that must be checked in and not for carry on:

  • tube paints
  • mediums for oil, acrylic and watercolor
  • palettes with paint on them
  • containers carrying paint out of the tube
  • sharp tools like knives, palette knives, razor blades, scissors

Items that you can carry on

  • brushes
  • easels in backpacks
  • clean palettes
  • pan watercolors
  • pastels
  • canvases, panels and paper
  • drawing materials (pencils, pens, charcoal, erasers, conte)
  • sketchbooks
  • paint cups, trays and empty vessels for water and solvents
  • viewfinders
  • bottles of ink (3oz or under)
  • camera
  • hand wipes
  • plastic gloves if you use them

Take only what you will actually use and is relevant to the medium that you work in to keep from having to pay for extra weight and having to lug it around. If flying it is best to check-in your art gear and supplies. Attach the label to your baggage containing art materials that is supplied here to alert the TSA of the contents.

Is there a Closing Party?

Yes, plan to cut loose and dance with your new friends. You’ve worked hard all week and deserve some additional fun.

What Are Specialty Sessions?

We have evening sessions helping you master something very specific, like painting the sea, or painting the rocks in a stream. These are open to all convention attendees.