The Plein Air Scene

by Sarah Beserra

Scott Burdick, Sarah in Catalina, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches


Out on a SLOPE


Partnerships between plein air painters and environmental non profits have resulted in numerous art shows up and down the State which have provided a steady source of income to the painters and a boost to operating budgets of the environmental organizations. The Nature Conservancy, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Carquinez Regional Environmental Education Center and other organizations have learned that contributions accelerate when the donor gets a painting in the deal.

Are patrons buying the paintings because they are in the market for a painting or because they want to contribute to the particular cause being celebrated by the show? Often it is both. But It doesn't matter. The "threefer" - a painting, a contribution to a worthy cause and a tax write off are often too good to pass up. While some galleries are getting into the act as well, others say that these shows deprive them of the rewards that come from investing in their painters and promoting them.

SLOPE - San Luis Outdoor Painters Enterprise - is the latest group to host a major show in an environmentally threatened habitat. Formed in 1993, the group of 14 plein air painters are combining their passion for painting with the Nature Conservancy, the Central Coast Natural History Museum and the Bay Foundation to raise monies for an oak-studded stretch of their coastline called the Irish Hills. These hills and their diverse ecosystems have been a favorite painting location of painters for years.

Some of the Central Coast's most accomplished artists will be unveiling a wide collection of paintings, inspired by their visits during the last year to several locations throughout the Irish Hills. This one-day event will be held at the See Canyon Fruit Ranch, tucked away in a bucolic canyon. The working fruit ranch was the location of one of SLOPE's paintouts last year, which was timed to capture the apple orchards in full bloom. The artists also painted at nearby ranches and beaches which provided a broad range of the area's diverse landscapes and scenic vistas.

See Canyon Fruit Ranch: Irish Hills Forever - 2345 See Canyon Rd., San Luis Obispo. Sunday, Apr. 29, Noon - 5pm. Tickets: $10 in advance/$15 at the door. Call: (805) 544-1767 or (805) 772-2694.

© Sarah Beserra, 2001

Read more of The Plein Air Scene by Sarah Beserra in Resource Library Magazine

Sarah Beserra is Editor and Publisher of The Plein Air Scene - a monthly newsletter on plein air painting in California. You may contact Sarah at or (707) 645-7361

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