Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Art in the Garden: NYBG’s First Plein-Air Invitational

Posted in Programs and Events on July 26 2016, by Miriam Flores

James Gurney, "Garden Walk"
James Gurney, Garden Walk

On June 19, we welcomed Artist in Residence James Gurney and 24 of the region’s top plein-air painters for NYBG’s first ever Plein-Air Invitational.

Organizing a Plein-Air festival was a new experience for all of us. We worked with different internal teams as well as James Gurney, who provided valuable suggestions. With his help, we selected the best locations for paintings and included models dressed in Victorian period attire. We also took pictures of the different gardens for the artists to visualize our surroundings before they arrived. We sent these images along with the event guidelines and each of the artists responded with their three ideal locations. We collected all their responses and finalized all of the logistics.

On Sunday morning, our staff was ready to welcome these expert artists. We brought lunch, welcome kits, nametags, and all of our energy to greet them. For many of the artists it was their first time visiting our grounds, and everyone was excited to share their talent and see the Garden as their muse.

Once they were all gathered, we drove them to their designated painting areas for sources of inspiration and to set up their stations. The locations were:

Stapleton Kearns, "The Rose Garden", Oil on linen, 18"x24"
Stapleton Kearns, The Rose Garden, Oil on linen, 18″ x 24″

It was a pleasure to observe their creative process! They took their art supplies and started looking for the perfect angle, one that would provide the best reflection of light and shadow. Their skillful hands began to transform empty canvas into sketches that became trees, flowers, and figures. All in the space of a few hours!

Our visitors were pleasantly surprised by the display. Our friendly artists answered questions and explained the media used that included oil, watercolor, and graphite. Their beautiful paintings showed how they captured the light, energy, beauty, and life that lives in the Garden.

View the full image gallery so see the artwork created during the Invitational.