Frequently Asked Questions

If your question isn’t answered below, please reach out to us!

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 direct contact with nature.

There has been a significant movement toward plein air painting in appreciation of the beauty of nature. Nature is always changing, and one can never paint the same scene twice. This is what makes plein air so different from studio painting. Creation never lacks interesting areas to travel and paint … and painting with friends makes it even better.

The convention is all about plein air painting. It offers superior education and demos from the foremost instructors in the world of plein air. It allows attendees to practice what they have learned in the company of like-minded creative people, and offers the supplies they need to be the best plein air artists they can be. 

When most people think of a convention, they think of a giant conference, like the political conventions they see on TV. PACE is not that. Instead, think of it as a large gathering where everyone comes to learn, make friends, connect with others, and take their painting skills to the next level.

Before the convention, we offer four optional pre-convention workshops in different mediums. Our huge Expo Hall of art materials — often plein air-specific — is open to purchase the best products in the industry; oftentimes you will also find fun product demonstrations. Our free pre-convention orientation introduces attendees to convention happenings, shows them how to make the most of the event, and provides an opportunity for people to connect and make new friends.

Our opening ceremony is a fun event. We tend to use theatrics … because who wants a boring start? We introduce our inspiring faculty who travel from all over to teach our attendees the ins and outs of plein air painting. We honor an artist who has made great contributions to the world of painting and plein air with our Lifetime Achievement Award. Through it all, we let attendees know the best ways to use all the opportunities available, and we have fun. 

There is usually a unique speaker, and we present the PleinAir Salon Grand Prize for the year. And this year we have a fun onstage painting demo — but that is a surprise. We wrap up the first day with a cocktail party and some heavy hors d’oeuvres (you won’t need dinner).

In the morning we start with a stand-up breakfast at 7:30, followed by Home Room at 8, where we make announcements and give away prizes. After that, attendees can go to one of five stage sessions, or spend a little time at each stage. In the early afternoon, we have another Home Room with prize giveaways before going out painting together. For attendees who are night people, we offer great evening sessions. We repeat this schedule daily. And on the last day, we have a full day of painting at a beautiful location.

The main stage sessions may feel a bit overwhelming because everyone attends. The key is to get there early and try to sit up close. Our professional tech team has placed huge screens to make everything easy to view. When other stages are open, people are more spread out, and attendees move around to see everything offered. Please take full advantage of all the amazing sessions, speakers, and artist demos. 

Remember, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Attendees may encounter faculty members at PACE who do not normally teach and are rarely seen on stage. We don’t know if the faculty we have in any given year will return. Each convention is unique and special and provides an opportunity to connect or reconnect with the plein air community.

We are here to help you grow, so we ask onstage faculty to be available, and we bring in other faculty, people we call “field painters.” They are mentors who are available when we are painting to answer questions and to help. Some may set up and paint with us. 

Field painters have bright hats and flags, and you’ll have a STOP HERE card to get their attention when you need help or have questions. We also have special mentors for the Plein Air Basics Course attendees who will work with that group exclusively.

Why are Ivy League schools more exclusive and costly than a small community college? It’s because of the Ivy League faculty and the quality of the students. We seek to bring attendees the finest painters and instructors in the world to teach at our event; they are “Ivy League” level teachers in the painting world. Some of our past faculty include renowned international watercolorist Joseph Zbukvic from Australia and Marc Dalessio, one of world’s most acclaimed plein air painters, from Italy. 

From inception to the actual event, it takes us about two years, sometimes longer, to plan a PACE convention. The locations we choose and the faculty we invite are handpicked and vetted to bring you the very best teaching with a variety of mediums on multiple stages. 

Our team works tirelessly to give our attendees the ultimate plein air experience, and it takes a massive effort and great expense. 

How can a value be placed on experiencing a transformation as a painter, a life-changing experience, an opportunity to be taught by and spend personal time with the best painters in the world, all in one place? Not to mention an Expo Hall with a great deal of plein air-specific art material to learn about and purchase? All of this added together? Priceless! 

  • The convention orientation
  • Opening ceremony, which includes the PleinAir Salon Grand Prize Presentation, Lifetime Achievement Award Presentation, and more
  • All-access pass to all main stage sessions and oil painting sessions
  • All-access pass to all watercolor sessions
  • All-access pass to all pastel sessions
  • All-access pass to all Expo Hall sessions
  • A ticket to participate in the world’s largest paint-out each day for four days (some venues may have an extra cost)
  • Breakfast each morning on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
  • All speakers
  • All demonstrations
  • An Expo Hall with art materials from all the best plein air vendors
  • Book and video signings
  • Photos with faculty members
  • Opening cocktail party
  • Closing party
  • Evening speciality sessions
  • Critique sessions
  • Amazing prizes given away each day
  • PACE Facebook Group, to collaborate with your fellow attendees before the event and continue to learn and keep in touch after
  • Pre-convention workshops
  • Plein Air Basics Course
  • Bus transportation to and from the paint-outs
  • Easel space in the Art Show & Sale
  • Entry to some of the paint-out venues
  • Platinum VIP opportunities
  • Gold VIP opportunities
  • Food
  • Hotel & Travel expenses

Payment plans are offered for general admission tickets only. When an attendee registers for the convention, they can select the payment plan for monthly installments. After the initial payment, payments will be deducted from your account every 30 days until paid in full.

We offer two levels of VIP tickets at PACE: Gold VIP access and Platinum VIP access.

The Gold VIP Experience includes reserved close-up seating, an invitation to the VIP cocktail party with faculty, access to the exclusive VIP Lounge stocked with refreshments and snacks all day, and a special collection of VIP goodies. 

The Platinum VIP Experience includes everything in the Gold VIP package PLUS much more, including a special event like a private studio tour with a renowned artist, front row seating for the main stage, an exclusive dinner with the main stage artists, a stuffed goodie bag, and an in-room gift.

Find out more about the VIP Experience here.

Note: The Platinum VIP program is sold out for 2024.

The closest airports to the PACE venue include Asheville Regional Airport (approximately 80 minutes) as well as Atlanta/Hartsfield International Airport (approximately 3 hours south). You can also drive; some major cities nearby include Asheville, NC; Gatlinburg and Knoxville, TN; and Athens, GA. Please put Cherokee Tower, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort (40 Convention Center Dr., Cherokee, NC 28719) into your GPS for exact driving times.

Here are some driving times from the major cities around Cherokee, NC:

Asheville: Approximately 1 hour
Gatlinburg: Approximately 1 hour
Knoxville: Approximately 2 hours
Athens: Approximately 2.5 hours

The closest airport is Asheville Regional Airport (AVL), approximately 80 minutes east of Cherokee, NC. There is also an option to fly into Atlanta/Hartsfield International Airport (ATL), which is approximately 3 hours south of Cherokee.

The hotel does not provide a shuttle service to and from the airport.

It is not necessary to have a car; however, PACE tickets do not include transportation to and from the airport or to the paint-outs. We encourage carpooling, and we also sell bus tickets to get to and from the paint-outs. NOTE: Bus ticket sales have closed for this year. 

The Help Desk team will be on site and can help arrange rides at PACE. 

Transportation to and from the paint-outs is not included in your PACE ticket, so you will need to arrange transportation of some kind. If you decide to rent a vehicle, please consider offering space in your car to others — carpooling is a great way to make new friends. Once we have finalized our paint-out locations and timing, we offer bus tickets for sale. NOTE: Bus ticket sales have closed for this year.

Once we finalize our paint-out locations and timing, we offer bus tickets for sale. NOTE: Bus ticket sales have closed for this year.

There is a cocktail party on Monday evening with pasta and salad, and a stand-up breakfast at 7:30 am on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings. 

Harrah’s has many on-site meal options, and there will be grab-and-go options available. Harrah’s also has a delivery service on site, meaning food can be ordered via phone and delivered to different areas of the hotel. 

The convention hotel is Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. We have negotiated a special rate for PACE attendees. Reserve your room here. Staying off site is an option, but it is much more fun to be at the convention hotel — where the action is!

100% “Peace of Mind” Guarantee: We understand life happens and circumstances change, so we give the option of transferring a purchased ticket to a future in-person event or offering a refund based on the cancellation policy below. 

Cancellation through 12/30/23 = 100% Refund, less a $50 processing fee
Cancellation 12/31/23-4/14/24 = 50% Refund, less a $50 processing fee
Cancellation on or after 4/15/24= 0% Refund

If you reserved at the convention hotel, please contact the hotel directly to cancel your reservation. Failure to do so may result in no-show charges.

Pre-convention workshops are sessions that take place before the official start of the convention. The pre-convention workshops are not included in the general admission ticket. 

This year we have three medium-specific workshops for $297 each:

Amit Kapoor – Watercolor; click here for more information
Joe Paquet – Oil; click here for more information
Aaron Schuerr – Pastel; click here more information

We also have a special Plein Air Basics workshop for $197. Click here for more information.

If this is your first time at PACE and/or you are new to plein air painting, you should consider attending the Plein Air Basics pre-convention workshop and also the orientation session at 2:45 pm on Monday to meet other beginners.

The Basics workshop is a beginner-friendly workshop that sets up new painters with the basic learning tools a painter needs. This workshop is a foundation that teaches new artists how to get the absolute most out of the convention. The Plein Air Basics workshop takes place on May 20 from 7:00 am-2:30 pm. You can find out more here.

Only one of the workshops can be attended in full. If you purchase tickets to more than one workshop, you are free to move between them. 

Pre-convention workshops are for sale based upon availability.

Our workshops do not have specific levels. Our faculty is proficient at communicating to a wide variety of audiences. Beginners and advanced painters will find a range of workshops to suit their needs.

You can connect with other attendees on the Plein Air Convention Attendees Facebook Page. *Must be registered for the convention to join.

The Art Show & Sale features paintings from both faculty members and attendees. There are a limited number of easel positions for sale. The public will be invited through local advertising and social media announcements to walk through the sale and make purchases. Local galleries and collectors will also receive an invitation prior to the event. You can find out more about the Art Show & Sale here.

You can use our easel to display paintings done at PACE or paintings brought from home

Art Show & Sale easels are for sale based upon availability.

If you are staying at the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, you can leave your gear in your room — there will be time to go to your room to get your gear. If you are staying offsite, you will need to carry your gear with you throughout the day. 

Tuesday, May 21

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Wednesday, May 22

Oconaluftee Indian Village & Cherokee Botanical Garden, 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Thursday, May 23

Darnell Farms, 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Friday, May 24

Biltmore Estate, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm 

We really encourage you to stay for the all-day painting on Friday at the iconic Biltmore Estate.

The first night we will hold a welcome cocktail party after our opening session. On the other nights there will be evening painting sessions and critique sessions as well as a closing party on Thursday.

Yes. There will be time to socialize and network at our welcome cocktail party, during meals, and in between sessions. In addition to becoming great painters, we encourage guests to use this time to make connections with other artists! Consider making a group on Facebook or another networking platform before the event to further your networking and connecting opportunities.

Your partner is welcome to attend the paint-outs with you and to attend our closing party on Thursday evening. All other stages and/or events must have a ticket.

If your significant other is coming with you but not interested in painting, they will have plenty to do at the hotel. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort offers a casino, restaurants/bars, pools, spa/fitness center, shopping, and much more!

We invite all non-painters to come along to the Orientation session at 2:45 pm on Monday. We’ll have a special introduction for them to meet others who are not painting.

The Help Desk will be available to answer any questions you may have. You will also be able to locate Streamline Team Members or Volunteers in royal blue shirts for any questions or concerns at the event. Please direct all questions related to your room and reservation to the Reservations Desk at Harrah’s.

You can find our full lineup, including the artists who will be doing demos, here:

Yes! After demos and at paint-outs. The demo artists will be wearing gold-colored caps for identification. Please do not approach the faculty with questions until AFTER they are off stage after their demos.

We consider it our job to give you the best possible faculty, and to offer a lot of different approaches so you get the best overall education. Consider the convention a sampler of demonstrations and approaches. 

As the publishers of PleinAir Magazine, we know who’s hot, who is becoming well known, and who is about to be well known. Therefore we select people based on their teaching ability and what they have to offer. Some faculty are there to teach on stage, others to work with people when we go outside to paint.

The Expo Hall is PACE’s art supply store with vendors selling paints, brushes, easels, frames, and more. Representatives from each company are there to answer your questions about products. They host in-booth demos by faculty artists and have “try it” areas in their booths so you can sample products before you buy. The Expo Hall is open during the entire convention, and the public is also welcome to come shop the Expo on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

You can find a list of our sponsors here.