910.455.9840 jaxarts@jaxarts.com

Plein Air

3 Day Paint-Out

What Is Plein Air?

Artist Brenda Behr painting at 2016 event.

What exactly is plein air painting?  Plein air is a term derived from the French phrase “en plein air,” which literally means “in the open air” and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors, which was originally developed by the Barbizon School and the Impressionist movement of the late 1800s.  A plein air artist paints on location, in natural surroundings. This type of painting requires certain techniques, materials, equipment and…. a certain type of artist. Watch these artists continue the tradition of painting “en plein air”.

Plein Air Paint Out 2018 – Downtown Jacksonville

Scores of these special plein air artists will converge on downtown Jacksonville on April 19, 20, and 21, 2018 for a paint-out competition. Not only will these artists have the opportunity to paint scenic and historic places like the Pelletier House along the banks of the New River, the USO, the old Jacksonville Train Depot, the City Hall Tower, the Freedom Fountain, beautiful Wilson Bay, the Beirut, WWII, Vietnam, and 911 Memorials… but they have a chance to win cash awards for their work.

Special workshops and southern hospitality add to the experience. Spectators will enjoy seeing the artists at work and be able to purchase their original paintings at a Wet-Paint Sale to be held during the afternoon of Art Block outside the Council for the Arts building.

Wet-Paint Sale and Arts Council Gallery Exhibition

Immediately after the judging on Saturday afternoon at the Art Block Street Festival, cash awards will be presented to winning artists. This year we’ve increased both the dollar amount of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes as well as the number of prizes:


1st Place: $500     
2nd Place: $300     
3rd Place: $200 

Award of Merit: $100,

Honorable Mentions (3): Gift Cards

All participating artists will have the opportunity to sell completed paintings from the paint-out during the publicized “Wet-Paint Sale.” Sales generated during the wet-paint sale will be the sole responsibility of the artists, and 100% of the sale is retained by the artists.


Works not sold at the wet paint sale may be displayed in the main Gallery in the Council, from April 21st through June 15th upon artist request.  Standard gallery commission rates will apply to pieces displayed/sold from April 21-June 15th.  Artists must price their own pieces for display/sale in the Arts Council Gallery or Art Market.

This Year’s Judge:

We are honored to announce that Chad Smith is this year’s Plein Air Paint Out Judge!

Chad Smith spent his formative years exploring the farms and woodlands of rural Indiana imparting an unshakeable love for outdoor light. The focus of Smith’s work is the changing light and mood found only in the outdoors. He can be found painting in the field year-round. Smith prefers a direct yet studied approach to plein air painting that melds the benefit of observation with sound artistic principles. It has been said that his work is “Not just ‘a scene’ but a real statement about something, yet not forced or melodramatic.”

Smith is represented nationally participating in plein air painting events from the East Coast to the West. In 2011 he spent a month painting and teaching in Ireland. Originally from the Midwest, Smith currently resides in Durham, North Carolina with his wife Erin and chocolate lab Sargent.

To see more of Chad’s work, please visit his website.


Some Locations in Paint Out Boundary

Paint-Out Quick Facts for Artists

  • You do not have to paint all three days… you can participate any day or days you would like. There will be a team of Plein Air Volunteers on hand each day to assist you.
  • You may submit up to three (3) finished paintings from the paint out for judging.
  • You may include any number of plein air paintings from the event for purchase in the wet paint sale on Saturday.
  • Upon arrival (whatever day), go to the Council for the Arts, 826 New Bridge Street, Jacksonville, NC 28540 to register/checkin. You will receive your packet and have your canvases stamped at that time. (Click here for map/directions)
  • You do NOT have to turn in your paintings or check out at the Council at the close of each day. You may drop by the Council at before 4pm daily if you need another canvas stamped.
  • Nocturnal paintings within the boundaries that are pre-stamped will be accepted.
  • Boundaries include views from the water.  Some artists may be painting from boats… very COOL!
  • There will be an Art Block Reception for artists on Friday evening, April 20th at The Council.  Please join the other artists, art council staff, board members and event sponsors for an evening of fun, food and entertainment.

Rules and Sales:

Complete rules may be downloaded above.  Please note the following:

  • Rules: Artists may submit up to THREE pieces for judging. All works must be done en plein air (outside), during the event times (nocturnal compositions accepted), within the painting boundaries as confirmed by the map, and without assistance of photographs. All canvasses/substrates must be officially stamped at registration. Eligible submissions must be turned in by 1:00pm on Saturday. All media are accepted, except for photography.
  • CanvasRestrictions: Canvases/Substrates may be no larger than 36 inches in any direction.   Artists may submit up to 3 completed works for judging. All substrates must be officially stamped at registration to be considered eligible for judging and the wet-paint sale.
Plein Air Paint Out Area Map
Plein Air Locations