Bay of Quinte Tourism

Downtown Belleville’s 2nd Annual Plein Air Festival

The Belleville Downtown Improvement Area (BDIA) in association with the Quinte Arts Council and the Ontario Plein Air Society (OPAS) is organizing the second annual Belleville-on-the-Bay-of-Quinte Plein Air Festival. On Thursday May 29 to Sunday June 1, 2014, artists from near and far will be capturing the beauty of Belleville en plein air!

480_388_csupload_58118580En 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 has its origins in the 17th century through the works of artists such Nicholas Poussin (1594- 1665) and Claude Lorraine (1600-1682), although the work that we have come to know had its origins in 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 earlier works of the artists.

480_357_csupload_58118561None 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 Belleville on the Bay of Quinte Plein Air Festival has grown to a four- day event, where artists will be completing their works outdoors, capturing natural light, colour, texture and nuance in their work. “The success of the first time this artistic event hit the streets of Belleville last year has been very encouraging,” says Seppo Nousiainen, Plein Air Festival Chairman. “Artists will have a chance to capture the beautiful images of historic downtown Belleville, the shores of the Bay of Quinte, the famous ‘Old East Hill’ and the Moira River. This event is a juried and judged competition that is open to artists working in various mediums such as watercolour, acrylic, soft pastel and oil,’ he added.

Participating artists can choose their own spot as long as it is along the Moira River, on the periphery of the Bay of Quinte, in downtown Belleville, or Old East Hill. Artists must register by May 17 and the fee is $25 for members of the Quinte Arts Council or the OPAS and $30 for non-members. Young artists under 18 years of age pay $15.

“The BDIA is very excited that we are able to bring back the Plein Air Festival to Downtown Belleville for 2014,” said Karen Parker, Executive Director of the BDIA. ”Last year we were thrilled to welcome 55 registered artists and their friends and families to the Quinte area and look forward to increasing that number this year and encourage everyone to take part in this truly unique event.”

The registration form is available on the event website Registrants are encouraged to do so in advance, as space is limited. Artists are allowed to submit 2 pieces that must have been completed outside during the Festival to be considered by the jurors. All participating artists must bring their blank canvasses to the BDIA office for stamping prior to beginning their work. There will be an opening reception on Thursday night, lots of opportunity for participating artists to explore and enjoy Belleville’s downtown shops and restaurants and a finale with an awards presentation on Sunday, where cash awards totaling $4,500 will be given out. Last year’s award winners were; first place, Frank A. Edwards from Kingston for his oil, View from Victoria Park; second place, to Sharon Fox Cranston of Bloomfield for her acrylic, Hot and Hazy by the Ba; third place to Delibor Dejanovic from Toronto for his pastel, Break Time and the OPAS Artists’ Choice award went to Antonio Afable of Toronto for his acrylic piece, Belleville Downtown.
After the awards presentation, the public is invited to come and see the exhibit and enjoy refreshments at Dinkel’s Restaurant & Courtyard.
Last year artists came from as far away as Kelowna, British Columbia, Toronto and many parts of Ontario and the Quinte Area. “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.”

For more information visit or contact the BDIA office at 267 Front Street, Belleville, (613) 968-2242, or email

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