Plein Air art event returns

The Smith ranch near Meeker is depicted in this example of plein air painting by local artist Pat Daggett. For the sixth year, artists return to Meeker today for the annual Meeker Plein Air art event. Pat Daggett photo

RBC | Starting June 15, artists from around Colorado and the United States will take their talents outside for the sixth annual Meeker Plein Air art event, following in the footsteps of famous artists like Monet, Renoir and Homer.
Plein air art is painting done outside, “in plain air.” It started in France in the mid-19th century during the Impressionist period, and was adopted by American artists who picked up the technique while in Europe and brought it home. The style languished in popularity for years, but started picking up again in the 1980s.
Painters have up to 15 days to paint throughout Rio Blanco County and the Flat Tops Wilderness. The end of the two-week marathon painting session will culminate in an exclusive artists and patron night on June 30, where registered patrons can opt to purchase a painting prior to the public art show and auction held at the Meeker Public Library during the Range Call celebration July 1-4.
“Plein air teaches you work fast,” said local artist Pat Daggett. “You have to make quick decisions on how to make a painting work. Unless it’s a cloudy day, the artist is limited to about two hours before the light changes.”
Daggett also said the technique is a good exercise for artists, providing visual understanding of light they can take back into the studio with them.
“It gives you a better memory of the true colors. Everything going on around you filters into the painting,” Daggett said.
Plein air lends itself to landscapes, but there’s a broad range of subject matter available. Daggett said she has to find something that triggers some emotion, whether it’s the shape of a tree or the play of light on a house. The final product has to be recognizable, not completely abstract. The artwork may be of any media—acrylic, oils, watercolors, even drawings—and of any size. The Best of Show winner will receive $1,000 in prizes. Awards total $2,500.
The art auction is a fundraiser for the Meeker Chamber of Commerce, with the Chamber receiving 30 percent of the sale proceeds.
New this year, hosted by Smoking River Gallery Arts, is a Meeker Kids’ Plein Air event on Saturday, June 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for K-12 students. Call Liz Waters at 970-274-3794
For more information or to register as an artist or patron, visit or call the Chamber office at 970-878-5510.