Plein Air Festival offers fresh look of Solomons

The Solomons Business Association in partnership with the College of Southern Maryland presents its annual Plein Air Festival including a Quick Draw art competition

Quick Draw, Street Fair, Evening Reception, June 16

Fresh air, art and family fun will offer a festival atmosphere for visitors to the annual Plein Air Festival, sponsored by the Solomons Business Association (SBA) with the College of Southern Maryland June 13 to 16 in Solomons.

This year’s Plein Air Festival will include a competition of plein air artists, culminating on June 16 with a Quick Draw competition open to the community. Saturday events will also feature a Street Fair, a Collectors’ Preview Champagne Reception and a public reception “An Affaire of the Arts,” featuring the winning plein air pieces for viewing or purchasing.

The term “plein air” comes from the French term “en plein air” which translates as “in the open air.”  Well-known artists, including Claude Monet and Pierre-August Renoir, created some of their best and most famous works in this style. For this year’s Plein Air Festival, artists from Connecticut to Georgia will be found painting throughout Solomons and the Dowell community on June 13-15. Their pieces will be judged on June 16 and displayed at the closing receptions at carmen’s gallery in Solomons.

For those in the community who want to sample the plein air experience, a Quick Draw competition will be offered along the Solomons Riverwalk from 10 a.m. to noon, June 16. Registration for the Quick Draw will begin at 9 a.m. in the Solomons Pavilion, with an entry fee of $25 per person to paint. Visitors are encouraged to watch the artists at work. Judging of the Quick Draw entries will be at noon at the Celebration tent located in the Lighthouse Inn parking lot, followed by sales of these paintings at 1 p.m.

In addition to the Quick Draw, the Street Fair will offer artisan booths, refreshments and a variety of games for children and adults from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The preview reception in carmen’s gallery from 5 to 6 p.m. will offer the first opportunity to view the plein air competition paintings and to chat with the participating artists. Cost to attend is $100 per person, which may be applied toward any plein air competition painting purchased during the reception.

The festival closes with An Affaire of the Arts Public Reception at carmen’s gallery from 6 to 9 p.m. when competition winners will be awarded. Their artwork may be purchased as well as the 2012 collectible plein air poster. Artists and Festival Judge Dee Beard Dean will be present, and Dean’s oil paintings will also be on display and available for sale. The event will include music by CSM’s Ritmo Caché and refreshments.

Creator of this year’s Plein Air commemorative poster is artist Robert Guthrie, who will be on-site to personalize the limited edition posters commemorating the festival. “I do many commissioned pieces, and this one was especially inspiring because of my love of painting plein air,” Guthrie said. “I paint in watercolor. I love what the technique gives you. It's more spontaneous and fresh, and better captures the feel of the subject matter. The poster style is completely different, but I played around with some quick stylized sketches, and then came up with a composition. I then refined it, but kept the feel of the loose sketches, and used a palette that conveys the joy of the event. I like challenges, and for me the beautiful scenery has me very excited. It is different than the landscapes I have been painting lately, and the change will be inspiring. That is when I do my best work.”

A New Orleans artist with a fresh look at the city’s historic architecture, Guthrie has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Mexico and France. He says that two years of teaching serigraph printing at the Bellas Artes Institute in Central Mexico left him profoundly influenced by the regional aesthetic. In addition to the Solomons Plein Air festival poster, Guthrie has been selected as the artist for the Official New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Poster and as an official designer for Les Rendez-vous D'Lerdre in Nantes, France. To view Guthrie’s work, visit

All proceeds from the Plein Air Festival will benefit SBA’s signature events including the Plein Air Festival, July 4th Fireworks, Christmas Walk and the Taste of Solomons, and proceeds from the poster sales will benefit a scholarship through the CSM Foundation.

Solomons has been identified as one of the top 15 happiest seaside towns in America, according to Coastal Living magazine and featured on Fox5 news at The happiest places to live on the coast were ranked based on Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, percentage of sunny and clear days, healthiness of beaches, commute times, walkability, school and crime ratings, education and financial security of the locals, and geographic diversity. For information on the Solomons Plein Air Festival visit For information on scholarships at CSM, visit