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Four local plein air festivals planned this year

People gather at the Harrietstown Town Hall for the 2023 Adirondack Plein Air Festival show and sale in Saranac Lake. (Provided photo)

SARANAC LAKE — Four plein air events are scheduled throughout the region this summer.

Organizers are encouraging visitors to check the schedules and make plans to see the Adirondacks through the eyes of painters from around the country.

The following are scheduled for the northern Adirondacks in 2024:

¯ July 16-20: Keeseville Plein Air, as part of the Community Arts Festival

¯ Aug. 12-17: Adirondack Plein Air Festival, Saranac Lake

¯ Sept. 18-21: Salmon River Valley Plein Air Festival, Malone

¯ Oct. 1-6: Tupper Lake Plein Air Festival, Tupper Lake

Plein Air is a French term for “painting outdoors in the open air.” Artists attending these festivals will take their paints and easels to outdoor locations and explore natural light and scenic views, wilderness or farmland, industrial or village locations, offering unlimited subject matter. Artists can do several paintings a day, resulting in a group show of hundreds of paintings. Large, small, oils, watercolor, acrylic, pastels, in a full range of subject matter.

Painters have been capturing the area en plein air for centuries.

In 2009, Sandra Hildreth, a Saranac Lake painter and one of the founding members of Saranac Lake ArtWorks, decided to organize a plein air festival for the Adirondack region. The Adirondack Plein Air Festival started out with just a few local artists who painted for two days and then hung a show of their work on a Sunday afternoon. Now, after 16 years, the event has a national reputation, a juried selection process, five days of painting and awards over $5,000 in prizes. Ending the event is the huge show and sale in the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake that regularly sends dozens of paintings on to new homes.

The Keeseville, Malone and Tupper Lake festivals were all modeled after the Saranac Lake event and they also attract artists who want to paint Adirondack landscapes, from the High Peaks, to the foothills, from Lake Champlain to the AuSable River valleys.

These events are for the artists, many of whom travel the country attending different festivals, as well as art collectors and spectators. Spectators are welcome at all the plein air festivals. Learn more at saranaclakeartworks.org.

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