Plein Air Festival returning in October

by Joan Hellyer

Artists will travel this fall from several states and Canada to southeastern Pennsylvania for the Fourth Annual Bucks County Plein Air Festival.

During the juried competition, the 30 artists will paint rolling landscapes, historic estates, lakes and rivers, quaint towns, covered bridges and stone farmhouses “en plein air,” organizers said.

They will make stops in the Doylestown, New Hope and Newtown areas as well as Peddler’s Village in Lahaska.

Michelle Held, a professional artist from Sarasota, Florida, will participate in the Bucks County festival for the first time this year.

She said two things are true about all open air painting contests. 

“We will always find beautiful scenes to paint and there is always an opportunity to make amazing friendships along this journey,” Michelle said.

Area residents are invited to watch the artists at work during the festival that runs from October 1st through October 6th.

The competition includes up to $15,000 in prize money, the organizers said.

Artist William Rogers of Antigonish, Nova Scotia will compete in his second Bucks County plein air festival this year.

William said he painted a variety of scenes during his first appearance at the 2017 competition.

“I loved the whole event and how everyone made me feel welcome,” he said. “I liked the hosts and the area in general.”

Bucks County Community College is joining forces with the Arts & Cultural Council of Bucks County, the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce and Alan Fetterman Fine Arts to host this year’s festival.

Penn Color is the event sponsor.

Everyone involved puts a lot of time and effort into the arts celebration, Doylestown artist Barbara Lewis said.

This will be the third year she competes in the art contest.

“I’m looking forward to seeing old and new artists and their work,” Barbara said. “It is inspiring.”

The upcoming event will be the second festival where artist Tracy Everly of Northampton will compete.

“Probably the biggest reason I participate is because I love Bucks County,” Tracy said. “Painting allows me to share my way of seeing it in a meaningful way. It also gives me the opportunity to help support and promote the arts in my own community, which is important to me.” 

Competitors will paint for the first four days of the festival, with professional artists Joe Gyurcsak and Valerie Craig serving as jurors during the competition.

Then a collectors’ preview event and awards ceremony is set for October 5th followed by a free festival October 6th at the BCCC campus in Newtown Township. It will feature various types of entertainment and an art exhibit and sale.

BCPAF proceeds will benefit future festivals, the college’s arts program and the chamber’s “Bucks Fever” program, which supports the arts through business.

Artist Ryan Jensen of Blue Lake, California is looking forward to sharing his artistic abilities with East Coast art lovers for the first time at the festival.

“I am enticed by the beauty of Bucks County in the fall,” Ryan said. “I love plein air competitions. I love the thrill of pushing myself. I feel I do better work.” 

Fetterman, founder of the BCPAF and Bucks County’s Artist in Residence, encourages locals to be a part of the festival that has quickly become a popular event for artists throughout North America.

“Be sure to witness and engage with the artists as they set up easels and paint our vibrant community in the autumn days of October,” he said.

Visit for more information about the artists who will participate in the festival and the schedule of activities for the six-day event.