When asked how I find artists along my journey, I talk of googling “plein air painter [city name]” prior to arrival. It has been amazingly effective, and really hit a jackpot when I found Karen Whitworth in Wasilla!
Not only is Karen an artist who enjoys painting outdoors, but she and friends Talya Johnson and Karen Willing Mattson—collectively The Painted Ladies—are organizers of an outstanding plein air event in the Mat-Su region of Alaska.
When Karen invited me to attend their second annual Great Alaskan Plein Air Retreat, I happily adjusted my schedule, and have been thrilled to spend four days with 40 other passionate artists. You’ll find photos of most of the artists on my Scrapbook page. Unfortunately, as the official Retreat photographer, Talya was always looking through her viewfinder and I never got a decent photo of her.
The Painted Ladies selected a different picturesque site for each day, including Matanuska Glacier State Park, Eklutna Lake State Park, a spot on the Little Susitna River, and frontier village Talkeetna. The views from Pioneer Ridge B & B, the event headquarters, were pretty cool, too! Visit my Plein Air Odyssey Map to pinpoint the locations and see all my paintings from the retreat.
Visiting artists Michelle Dunaway, James Buncak, and event organizers Karen Whitworth and Talya Jackson did demos each afternoon that were especially appreciated by the novice artists in attendance.
On Saturday evening, each participating artist selected their best work for presenter Michelle Dunaway to judge. They dropped them off on Sunday at Scott Thompson’s Willow Creek Gallery before continuing on toward Denali to paint in Talkeetna. I took advantage of Scott’s hospitality and gracious offer of WiFi, remaining at the gallery to catch up on writing and photo processing.
This was not only a well-run event, but a great way for me to meet many artists excited about painting outdoors. In the following articles, you’ll meet a few of my new friends. Once again, thank you Karen Whitworth, Talya Johnson and Karen Willing Mattson for the invitation to join you at this fantastic event!