Plein air festival resurrected by the QAC, now called Arts en Plein Air 2017

Information for Registrants:

At registration, artists will receive a participant package and additional area information. There will be cash awards totaling almost $6000. Early Bird Registrants will be entered for a chance to win Travelodge accommodation for September 7th to 9th. Register before August 11th to qualify!

Plein Air Festival Rules for Painters (PDF)

Registration Form for Painters (printable PDF)

Registration Form for Other Artists/Exhibitors (printable PDF)

Online Registration Form for Painters

Online Registration Form for Other Artist/Exhibitors

Online Registration Fee Payment

Become a QAC Member


New festival includes student component and involvement of other artists and art groups

The Quinte Arts Council, in association with numerous Belleville and Quinte arts groups, is organizing the fourth Belleville on the Bay of Quinte Plein Air Festival, now renamed Arts en Plein Air 2017, which will run from Thursday, September 7 to Sunday, September 10. Artists from near and far will capture the beauty of Belleville and the Quinte region ‘en plein air,’ while local and regional arts organizations will gather to celebrate and showcase ‘en plein air’ the innumerable arts offerings in our area which help to confirm our region as an important arts destination.

The Plein Air Festival has grown to a four-day event where artists will complete their works outdoors, capturing natural light, colour, texture and nuance in their work. The success of this event, since its inception in 2013, has been encouraging. Painters will have the opportunity to capture beautiful images of historic downtown Belleville, the shores of the Bay of Quinte, the famous ‘Old East Hill’ and the Moira River, along with a number of specified painting sites outside the city. The event is a juried and judged competition that is open to artists working in various media, such as watercolour, acrylic, soft pastel and oil.

For 2017, we have expanded the painting portion of our festival to include a junior student component (elementary and secondary). Two specific awards will be given to successful student winners. Painting sites for the students will be focused in the downtown core of Belleville and participating elementary students will be expected to have parental or identified supervision. Our decision to involve budding artists was prefaced by a wish to help infuse excitement and interest in particular skill sets, which will be of assistance, no matter what career direction these young participants embark on. We know that the arts are such an important aspect of a balanced life.

Adult artists will be able to select their painting spots from a varied list of specified painting sites. We hope this will generate increased public interest, by allowing community members to move around easily, identifying and observing participating artists.

The registration fee will be $40 for members of the Quinte Arts Council or the Ontario Plein Air Society and $50 for non-members. Student registrants (elementary and secondary) will pay $25. As part of the student fee, we will be including a painting kit for each registrant. We are still in the developmental stage regarding ‘the kit’ and more information will be available shortly.

The QAC is very excited that we are able to bring the Plein Air Festival back to Belleville/Quinte for 2017. Over the years we have been pleased to welcome many artists and their friends and families to the Quinte area for the first time and we look forward to increasing that number this year. We also hope to expand the number of local and regional entrants.

The additional involvement of various regional arts groups, performing and exhibiting ‘en plein air’ throughout Belleville, while artists are painting, should prove exciting. 2017 will be the first year that we offer the event in this expanded format, and we are excited and proud to showcase Belleville and our region. We look forward to the entrenchment of this signature offering. We encourage everyone to attend and participate. If anyone is interested in hosting a visiting artist in their homes, please contact the QAC office.

The registration form and further information will be available shortly on the QAC website, quinteartscouncil.org, and you can get further information by calling the QAC office at 613-962-1232.

Artists are allowed to submit two pieces that must have been completed outside, during the festival, and according to the rules of the competition, to be considered by the jurors. All participating artists must bring their blank canvasses to the QAC office for registration and stamping prior to beginning their work.

There will be an opening reception on Friday night for all, a Saturday ‘plein air’ dinner and reception for artists and guests, opportunities for participating artists and visitors to explore and enjoy Belleville’s downtown shops and restaurants, and a finale with an awards presentation on Sunday where cash awards totalling almost $6,000 will be given out.


As mentioned above, we announced that the Quinte Arts Council will be resurrecting the Belleville on the Bay of Quinte Plein Air Festival, which ran from 2013 to 2015, in cooperation with the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA). Now renamed the Arts en Plein Air 2017 festival, running from Thursday, September 7 to Sunday, September 10, our expanded format will use the celebration of plein air painting as the basis of a showcase event promoting our city and our region as a strong arts destination.

To this end, various arts individuals and groups from our region will be performing and exhibiting the talents and activities found throughout our area, in identified plein air locations in Belleville alongside and nearby our plein air painters, within our city.

Another new aspect of our festival will be the introduction of a separate student painting component. Our youth represent our future. Their involvement (limited to specific downtown painting sites) and the participation of parents and relatives will help generate further excitement and ‘teachable moments’ during the festival.

We will be providing much information in the coming weeks and months, building, clarifying and advertising specific components of our new arts festival. Please keep checking our website as these details unfold, quinteartscouncil.org, or call the QAC office, 613-962-1232, for additional details.

For those curious about how the plein air painting movement came about, the following information should prove helpful.

En plein air is a French expression which means ‘in the open air,’ and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors. Many famous French Impressionist painters, such as Claude Monet, Camille Pissaro, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir advocated en plein air painting and much of their work was done outdoors.

The beauty of plein air paintings is that the art is based on direct observation of the subject, not from memories or photographs.  Artists must capture the natural light and work quickly to catch the subject in that moment, as light changes significantly in a two to two and a half hour period. Painting outside had its origins in the 17th century, through the works of artists such as Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665) and Claude Lorraine (1600-1682), although the work that we have come to know as plein air dates from the early 19th century, through the works of painters such as Jean-Baptise-Camille Corot (1796-1875) and John Constable (1776-1837).

This type of painting influenced the development of the Barbizon School, a group of artists who were based in the village of Barbizon, by the forest of Fontainebleau. In later years, this work in turn influenced the French Impressionist movement, which held that painting in heavy brushstrokes, and flecks of colour would create the overall impression of a scene, as a means of capturing and conveying the outdoor experience, although not as representationally as works of earlier artists.

None of this work would have been possible without the invention of the collapsible zinc paint tube with stopper cap, portable easels, palettes and paint boxes. Before having access to these products, artists would painstakingly grind up pigments with linseed oils and prepare materials for working outside. They would also have to carry heavy equipment and trek some distance to find the perfect place outdoors.

The Arts en Plein Air Festival has grown to a four-day event where artists will be completing and showcasing their talent and works outdoors, capturing natural light, colour, texture, nuance and changing conditions, in their work. The success of this first-time event will depend on your involvement and cooperation. We are very excited to promote plein air painting and additional arts en plein air events in Belleville and our region. We hope this will grow and become an annual event.

There will be an official opening reception on Friday night, lots of opportunity for participating artists to explore and enjoy Belleville’s downtown shops and restaurants, a private reception and dinner for artists , performers and guests on Saturday and a finale with a show and awards presentation on Sunday where cash awards of almost $6,000 will be given out. After the awards presentation (to which all are invited), the public is invited for the two following weeks to view the exhibit at the Parrott Gallery.

In previous years participating artists came from the Belleville/Quinte area, many communities throughout Ontario, and locales beyond. “What strikes me most about this event is the calibre of the work created in such a short time frame,” states Carol Feeney, Executive Director of the Quinte Arts Council. “It is also a joy to see how artists from near and far capture and express the beauty of spaces, buildings, wildlife, streetscapes, and landscapes that we as citizens take for granted or overlook completely. It is my hope that people will plan on coming out to watch the artists create their work and take the opportunity to meet and greet them.”

Stay tuned.


International Plein Air Painters is a blanket organization created for the sole purpose of advancing the execution and enjoyment of plein air painting without the restrictions and limitations of borders or regions. Membership is restricted to plein air painters, those serious to learn about plein air painting and those who wish to be benefactors advancing the plein air movement.