Nature as a Muse

07 Jun 2022

Easels on the Green – Cashiers Plein Air Festival returns in July

By Liesel Schmidt


Da Vinci, Monet, Renoir, O’Keefe… 

We’ve seen so many of their paintings, appreciated their mastery of light and shadow, their ability to capture nature in its finery—and each, through their own interpretation. As much as their work might have been done within the confines of walls, in settings where they could control their surroundings, much of it was also done outside, in the open-air—something in the art world known as plein air.

Painting plein air takes technique and deftness of hand, not to mention the ability to work quickly, as things in nature tend to change with the wind. But being out in the fresh air, in the sunlight, in the midst of so many muses, is a method that is celebrated among artists—so much so, in fact, that a festival was created in 2010 to bring the talent of world-renowned plein air artists.

Put into the works in 2010 by members of the Village Green Board of Directors including Mary Palmer Dargan, Trish Warriner and Karen Weihs, Easels on the Green – Cashiers Plein Air Festival was officially launched after two years of planning. 

The festival gave plein artists from the community as well as artists from around the world a platform from which to compete and sell works that they created live, during a set period of time. Modeled after other successfully executed plein air festivals throughout the nation, Easels on the Green was created with the intent of raising funds for the enhancement of The Village Green and providing art-focused education.

Held every two years, Easels on the Green is a premier art event for the Southeast and has become a huge draw to the area over the past 12 years.

“This amazing event provides us with a unique fundraising avenue while also bringing world-renowned artists and an opportunity for art education to everyone in our Cashiers community,” says Ashlie Mitchell-Lanning, Executive Director of The Village Green. “The Village Green is grateful to the artists as well as the festival benefactors and sponsors for the opportunity to enjoy the art that comes through our area every other year.”

What people can expect to see is, of course, art in action. And whether you’re a seasoned art-lover or not, you’ll still undoubtedly find something to captivate you.

“The beauty of Easels on The Green is that there is something for everyone,” says Mitchell-Lanning. “The Gallery, which is free and open to the public, showcases the artwork of 20 distinguished plein air artists from around the globe. These artists create incredibly beautiful pieces depicting Cashiers' most treasured locations and landmarks. If you love the Cashiers area, and would love a piece of artwork that depicts the beauty of our natural setting and our community, then The Gallery at Easels on The Green is the place to be. This festival is also fun because there are a lot of interactive events where everyone in the community can come to engage with the artists or to learn techniques to become better artists themselves.”

Artists arrive to Cashiers on July 10, and events and festivities occur July 13 through July 17. The event kicks off with a benefactor’s preview party on the 13th and caps off with an artists’ awards champagne brunch on July 17.

“Our first event is our Quick Paint Open Competition,” explains Mitchell-Lanning. “The 2022 invited artists complete a painting from start to finish during the fast-paced Quick Paint in the beautiful gardens of The Village Green. All local artists are invited to come out ‘en plein air’ and capture the spirit of this art competition and sale. That evening, we have a special Benefactors Preview Party, a private event for Easels on The Green benefactors and corporate sponsors, giving them the first opportunity to view the artists’ work and participate in early purchasing of these prized pieces.”

Additional workshop events throughout the festival include:

-Mark Making by Michelle Held, during which time Held will demonstrate how she uses lines, dots, marks, patterns, and textures to create the dichotomy between loose and gestural or controlled and neat paintings. 

-Enjoy Personal Color in Landscape by Sarah Sneeden, a demo on how to use thin transparent pigment with brush, textured palette knife work, as well as other techniques. 

-Telling A Story Through the Visual Language of Painting by Jeremy Sams defines the concepts of communicating a story through the elements of composition. 

-Two Women, Twin Vision by Mary Hoffman and Madeleine Duke showcases the ways that two women can paint the same scene with different strokes, techniques and results. 

“I think Easels on The Green is a must-do-event here in Cashiers because it's an accessible and versatile event where artists showcase the Cashiers area that we all treasure,” says Mitchell-Lanning. “Not only can you buy a piece of Cashiers and admire it in your home, or give it as a gift, but your purchase also directly benefits The Village Green, which is quintessentially The Heart of Cashiers. Artists donate a portion of their painting's proceeds to The Village Green, which is a 501c3 nonprofit park system that receives no county, state, or federal funding. The Village Green relies solely on the generosity of our community members, and on two biennial events to improve our park while continuing to produce the free, family-friendly and engaging events, programs and festivals that our community has come to cherish.

“We have an incredibly dedicated committee that coordinates Easels on The Green every other year,” Mitchell-Lanning continues. “Many on the committee are avid plein air festival goers and are very familiar with the prominent artists that paint across the world. Our committee members contact many of these artists and offer the opportunity of coming to Cashiers to paint our well-known locations, while also donating to an amazing cause. This festival definitely couldn't happen without the incredible artists, and if we didn't have such a dedicated committee, then Cashiers wouldn't have such a world-class event. So, thank you to all involved, and we all hope to see you this summer at Easels on The Green!”


Tickets to all public events can be purchased at The Gallery in the Lewis Hall is open to the public free of charge July 14-16 from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., and July 17 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

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