Plein Air-Easton 2011


Three Exceptional Artists Have
7-Year Streak at Plein Air-Easton
Ann Dorbin


Now entering its seventh year, Plein Air–Easton! has become the premier plein air festival in the country. Each year the festival has evolved and expanded as scores of painters descend on Easton and Talbot County, bringing with them an up­‑close‑and‑personal look at the excitement and spontaneity that surround art created en plein air (French for “in the open air”). This event has become one of the hottest art sales of the year in the Mid-Atlantic region and well beyond. A fundamental key to the event’s unprecedented success is the ever-increasing quality of the art being produced.
As organizers have continued to constantly raise the bar, the intensity of the contest has increased to the point where the competition is extremely fierce. Over the last several years, Plein Air–Easton! has seen a distinct shift in the caliber of artists submitting to the competition. Submissions increasingly come from well-known artists from across the United States and around the world. This year, almost 100 percent of those who applied have established careers, gallery representation, and professional websites.
Among the increasingly daunting prospect of jurying into this prestigious competition, only three artists have the distinguished record of having qualified for all seven years (2005-2011). They are Roger Dale Brown, Michael Budden, and Stephen J. Griffin.
Roger Dale Brown, OPA, Franklin, Tennessee
My goal is to create a painting that makes the viewer feel they have stepped into a different day, and understand the mood and beauty of that day.
Roger Dale Brown won Plein Air–Easton! Honorable Mentions in 2005 and 2009 with “Docked Before the Storm” and “Sunset Over the Miles,” respectively; Third Place in 2008 with “Classics at Dock” and the Academy Purchase Award in 2008 with “Morning at Rich Neck Manor.”
Brown, who is originally from Nashville, Tennessee, is a prolific artist who spends countless hours, both in his studio and on location, capturing sights and scenery throughout America with his style of expressive realism. He is also known for his evocative figurative and still life works. An ardent outdoorsman, he has traveled and studied across the United States, and says his paintings are inspired by his travels, combined with his love of history, nature and architecture. He has an exceptional ability to capture atmosphere in his paintings.
Brown actively participates in professional art organizations, including the National Arts Club, Plein Air Painters of the Southeast, Cumberland Society of Painters, and Oil Painters of America (OPA), of which he is a signature member. He regularly participates in solo shows, national exhibitions, and paint-outs. Many of his paintings have won awards in prestigious exhibitions. Honors include the Gold Medal of Honor for the Hudson Valley Art Association at the National Arts Club in New York, and Best of Show for the 39th Annual Central South Juried Art Exhibit. Brown conducts workshops throughout the country, teaching a variety of subjects. He has regularly conducted demonstrations during Plein Air–Easton!
Brown is Troika Gallery’s featured artist for the month of July. He will present a demonstration, “Capturing Atmosphere Plein Air Style,” to be held at Troika Gallery on July 23, from 3 to 5 p.m. during the Plein Air–Easton! Competition & Arts Festival. Brown will demonstrate how he paints the humidity, reflective and refractive light, as the sun sets over a marsh. He will also explain his technique and thought process throughout the painting process. Troika Gallery is located at 9 S. Harrison St. in downtown Easton.

Michael Budden,
Chesterfield, New Jersey
It’s the light that grabs you. Makes you stop and look and want to paint.
Michael Budden won awards for 2005 Best Marine for “Marina Morning” and 2010 Honorable Mention for “Easton Evening.”

Budden’s paintings are characterized by strong design, confident brushwork, and a superior quality of light. He says, “The challenge of painting on location emphasizes what truly excites me as an artist. Plein air painting is derived from the heart, very challenging, but fun and freeing up of one’s art spirit. Although I also work in the studio, nature is the best teacher and inspiration.”
Budden has won many awards, including the 2006 White House Easter Egg representing New Jersey, and two awards at the Salmagundi Club in New York City: the 2008 Purchase Award and the 2009 Alden Bryan Memorial Award for Traditional Landscape in Oil. His paintings are found in three major museums that focus on wildlife art, and in many private and corporate collections.
Barbara Hughes, of Hughes Gallery in Boca Grande, Florida, says, “The first time I saw a Michael Budden painting, it took my breath away. There are simply some painters who paint so tenderly that we know we’re in the presence of a great artist. For me, Michael is one of those. For an artist to rise above and paint in a manner commanding our attention, it takes the heart to paint what we all feel when in the presence of beauty.” 
Budden continuously strives for excellence, stating, “I continue to search and to get better as an artist. I feel my best is yet to come.”

Stephen J. Griffin,
Easton, Maryland
To paint a landscape you have to be out there, having a relationship with it, seeing and feeling it to get it right.
Stephen J. Griffin won awards for 2005 Third Place and People’s Choice for “Morning Work,” 2005 Quick Draw Third Place, 2006 Honorable Mention for “Dudrow Farm,” 2007 Best Marine for “Crabbers,” and 2007 Quick Draw Second Place for “Academy.”
Griffin is best known for portraits and landscapes, especially of Chesapeake Bay and New England boats. His landscapes capture the distinctive light caused by the high humidity of Maryland summers. He says, “The light has to go through the haze and it sets up beautiful screens of atmosphere. I am trying to paint what I see in nature, capturing the emotion of that day in a way that will move the viewer.”
Originally from Pennsylvania, Griffin studied at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. His studies have included classical painting and architecture with Alvin Holm AIA, Impressionism at the Cape Cod School of Art founded by Henry Hensche in 1931, and classical drawing and design at Barnstone Studios in Coplay, Pennsylvania. He moved to Maryland to study with renowned portrait artists Cedric and Joanette Egeli. He says studying with the Egelis, in particular, shaped his Impressionist style. “I started seeing things as they really are, not the way we think they should be.”
Griffin’s recent portrait commissions include “Mural of Justice” for the Hatboro, Pennsylvania, District Court, and a portrait of Edward F. Burns, Mayor of Bensalem and member of the State of Pennsylvania Legislature. He also has completed numerous portraits of children and adults.
Griffin is a member of Classical America, the Maryland Society of Portrait Artists and the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association (MAPAPA). He won both the People’s Choice and Best Marine Painting in MAPAPA’s Paint Annapolis 2002 exhibit and has gone on to win numerous plein air painting awards in subsequent Plein Air–Easton! and Paint Annapolis events. He was selected as an Artist of Recognition in 2001 by the Portrait Society of America. He exhibited his work in the 63rd Annual Juried Exhibition in 2003 at the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, PA. Griffin was honored to be juried into the 2004 “Sunlight and Shadow” exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausaw, WI.
“We have only just begun!” he says. “Come, watch, and see where we go.”

July 18-24: Seventh Annual Plein Air–Easton! Competition & Arts Festival
Fifty-eight artists will compete in the seventh Annual Plein Air–Easton! competition, to be held July 18-24. This week-long event produces some of the best representational art in America today, created by the nation’s top plein air painters. Artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts alike come together for the hottest art sale of the year. Event features national competition, museum exhibit featuring sales of freshly made paintings, and an exclusive Collectors’ Preview Party. As paintings sell, replacements will be added, so be sure to stop by several times throughout the weekend to see this evolving wealth of plein air artwork. Three “Quick Draw” events: the exciting two‑hour main Quick Draw competition, followed by art exhibit and sale (open to any artist); the very cool Quick Draw: The Next Generation for emerging artists, features a paint-out, art sale, an opportunity to gain credentials, and art sale, along with the chance to win a top cash prize of $1,500, with winning painting featured on the cover of Attraction magazine (open to artists age 25 and younger); and the popular Children’s Quick Draw.
Other attractions include gallery shows, art talks, workshops, and demos by outstanding artists and photographers. The Winners’ Paint‑Out & Brunch with Live Art Auction, and self‑guided Studio Tour across Talbot County offer even more opportunities to view and purchase great art. Take in performing arts with live music, three performances of the Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta The Pirates of Penzance, and a screening of the film The Art of the Steal, sponsored by the Chesapeake Film Festival. Most events are free and open to the public.
Plein Air–Easton! is the work of the Avalon Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide diversified arts and educational programs that improve the quality of life in the Mid-Shore region. The competition exhibit is held at the Academy Art Museum, which is an accredited museum. Plein Air–Easton! is supported by various corporate, media, and community sponsors, including the Talbot County Arts Council. Donations from Friends of Plein Air–Easton! support the event while promoting conservation and tourism through the arts and a distinct sense of place. Strong community support and sponsorships have been key components in the great success of this event.
For full itineraries, artists’ bios, registration for ticketed events, and more, visit, e-mail or phone 410-822-7297.