Evanston Plein Air Festival July 9 – 16

Artists are invited to paint in the Plein Air style, all over Evanston, capturing the beauty of Evanston’s natural environment, favorite landmarks and built environment.  The festival’s grand finale on Sunday, July 16, is an exhibit of one piece from each artist submitted for judging for Best of Show, 4 Honorable Mention awards, and a community vote for Festival Favorite.  

Evanston Plein Air Festival Volunteers

Help make the 2nd Annual Evanston Made Plein Air Festival a success and volunteer. Click here to fill out the volunteer form. To kick off Plein Air Festival Week, you are invited to attend the Artist Reception on Sunday, July 9, at POUR Evanston, 6-9p, to meet painters and other volunteers and pick up volunteer packets.

Evanston Plein Air Festival Event Listings

Join us for a weeklong celebration of Plein Air Painting in Evanston, where competing plein air painters capture Evanston’s beautiful natural and built environments.

Enjoy daily painting competitions (Paint Outs) throughout Evanston and on Sunday, July 16th, attend the festival exhibit and art sale, where you can vote for Festival Favorite. 


Sunday, July 9

Exhibit. See plein air paintings by artist Mark Cleveland at Evanston POUR, 528 Dempster St., June 26 – July 31. Opening reception and party Sunday, July 9, 6-9p. Click here to RSVP.

Paint Outs July 10-14

Paint Outs are “quick paint” competitions for registered artists, inviting the community to meet plein air painters and gather for awards ceremonies, July 10-14. Click here to RSVP.

Monday, July 10

  • Painting Area: Greenwood Street Beach, Judge: Mark Cleveland 
  • Painting time: 8a – 12p 
  • Award Ceremony: The Graduate Hotel, 1625 Hinman Ave., 5-6p
  • Award Time: 5:30p

Tuesday, July 11 

  • Painting Area: Downtown Evanston, Judge: Nina Weiss
  • Painting time: 12 – 5p 
  • Award Ceremony: The Alley Gallery, 1712 Rear 2, Sherman Ave., 5-6p
  • Award Time: 5:30p

Wednesday, July 12 

  • Painting Area: Lighthouse, Judge: Maria Delton 
  • Painting time: 9 – 11a
  • Award Ceremony: Soul & Smoke Patio, 1601 Payne St. 5-6p. 
  • Award Time: 5:30p

Thursday, July 13 

  • Painting Area: Central Street by Independence Park, Judge: Mark Cleveland 
  • Painting time: 11a – 3p 
  • Awards Ceremony: DiSalvo’s Pizza, 1945 Central St., 3-4p. 
  • Award Time: 3:30p

Friday, July 14 

  • Painting Area: Main Dempster Mile, Judge: Sarah Kaiser-Amaral 
  • Painting time: 12-5p 
  • Award Ceremony: Plein Air Festival Block Party in Train Station Alley, 600 Main St., 5-6p. Rain location: Sketchbook Brewing Company, 821 Chicago Ave.
  • Award Time: 5:30p

Saturday, July 15

  • Nancie King Mertz will host a plein air painting demo in Fountain Square, 9-11a

Sunday, July 16

Evanston Plein Air Festival Award Ceremony and Art Sale

Artists will submit one work for judging at 12p. Public viewing and voting for Festival Favorite 12-3p. Artists are invited to sell their work “off the easel”. This event will be hosted in the lobby and the outside promenade of the Rotary International building, 1560 Sherman Avenue in Downtown Evanston. Free for all to attend. 

Festival Award Ceremony: 3:30p, Nancie King Mertz will announce a total of 8 prizes; Best of Show, Second, Third, 4 Honorable mentions and Festival Favorite. Click here to RSVP and join us to vote Festival Favorite.



  • Alley Gallery
  • Blick Art Supplies
  • Block Museum of Art
  • Central Street Business Association
  • Chicago NorthShore CVB
  • DeSalvo’s Pizza
  • Downtown Evanston
  • Evanston Arts Council
  • Evanston Chamber of Commerce’s MashUp Fund
  • Great Merchant Grant
  • Mack’s Bike & Good
  • Main Dempster Mile
  • Masterpiece Framing & Imaging
  • Northwestern University
  • Rotary International
  • Soul & Smoke
  • stumble & relish
  • The Graduate Hotels


  • Gay Riseborough’s feature in the Evanston RoundTableClick to read.
  • Chicago Sun-Times lists Plein Air Festival in Things to do in Chicago! Click to read
  • Daily Northwester lists lists Plein Air Festival in Things to do in Evanston Click to read
  • Gay Riseborough’s profile of artist Mark Cleveland in the Evanston RoundTable Click to read
  • Evanston Now: Artists at work outdoors this week by Desiree Shannon Click to read
  • Evanston RoundTable: Plein Air Festival paints the town by Richard Cahan Click to read
  • Evanston RoundTable Video: An Evanston Minute: Return of the plein air painters! by Richard Cahan Click to watch