Plein Air makes the outdoors a muse for artists

The great outdoors isn’t just for sightseers and adventurers. It is also for artists.

The Plein Air Festival, hosted by Fine Arts Blount, encourages artists to create their work outside along the Greenbelt, in historic Downtown and throughout Blount County.

Festival organizer, Katie Kinney said, “Plein Air means out in the fresh air painting.” However, Kinney said artists from all mediums, including photography are welcome to participate.

The week-long event kicked off Monday for the “creation” stage of the festival. Workshops on Plein Air provided artists an opportunity to create work outdoors within the community. On Saturday, Aug. 7, artists will have the opportunity to show off what they have created and sell it at a public reception. The reception is from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, at Fine Arts Blount, 106 Broadway Ave.

The festival is a partnership with Arts in the Park, the annual family event being held this year at Springbrook Park on Saturday, Aug. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Last year, we added the Plein Air Festival for the adults,” Kinney said. “Arts in the Park is all about the kids.”

For the Plein Air Festival, artists pay a $10 fee for every three submissions with no limit. The works must be submitted Saturday morning for the reception and sale.

“We’ll be here (at FAB) that day taking in all the art, hanging it and then having it judged. We’ll have a reception that night for all the artists and the general public. Everyone can see the art that was created here outdoors that week.”

Kinney said the festival is also an opportunity for all Blount residents to enjoy and purchase local art.

According to Kinney, Plein Air began in the mid-1800’s and was adopted by many famous French painters like Claude Monet.

“Paint finally started to come in tubes and tubs so painters could take it outside. Up until that point in time, painters had to sit there and grind and mix their own paint so you couldn’t leave the studio with it.”

She said Plein Air artists use a small pallet of set colors and must work quickly because changing sunlight affects the image.

“Plein Air painters tend to like early in the morning and then later in the afternoon. As the light changes, it affects the shadows and the colors and how a landscape looks.”

She said artists are not short on landscape options in this area. “The artists can go anywhere in Blount County. There’s so much beauty out there to paint.”

For more information about the Plein Air Festival or to be involved in Fine Art Blount’s various non-profit programs, call 865-982-0898 or visit their website:

Arts in the Park, a community event that will provide an opportunity for sharing arts and fun for all ages, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7, at the pavilion at Springbrook Park in Alcoa. There is no cost to attend, and concessions will be available.

Featured artists will include:

Cindy McDannel -- children’s art

Karen Brackett -- drawing basics and kiddie profiles

Elain O’Sullivan -- clay creations

Susan Kolpack -- drawing

Gloria Nelson -- foil art

The event is sponsored by Fine Arts Blount and Parks and Recreation.

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