Evanston Plein Air Festival 2024

Evanston Made presents the Third Annual Plein Air Festival: July 13-21, 2024. This citywide summer arts festival invites the community to plein air art events hosted in every neighborhood, accessible and free for all! 

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.  Event details with 2024 will be posted soon!

Sunday July 21, will be an art exhibit and art market plus judging of Best of Show, Festival Favorite and additional awards to celebrate Plein Air and our participating artists held at Rotary International.



More than 65 Plein Air Painters competed for Best in Show. The juried invitational was judged by Plein Air Painter, Nancie King Mertz.

The festival’s grand finale was held Sunday, July 16, 2023 and an exhibit of one piece from each artist was submitted for judging for a total of 8 prizes; Best of Show, Second, Third, 4 Honorable mentions and Festival Favorite.


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 Out Events Monday-Friday

Paint Outs are “quick paint” competitions for registered artists, inviting the public meet plein air painters and gather for awards ceremonies, July 10-14. A Map of all Paint Out locations will be provided to artists upon Check-In and available online for the public! Click here to RSVP to attend.

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: DeSalvo’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 plein air painting demonstration: Fountain Square, 9a-11a

Festival Grand Finale – July 16

Best of Show Award Ceremony, Art Exhibit & Festival

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 for 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


  • Gay Riseborough’s feature in the Evanston RoundTable Click 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
  • Evanston RoundTable: The Art of Making Art: Plein Air Festival by Jean Cunningham Click here to read 



Evanston Plein Air Festival 2022

Evanston Made presented our First Annual Plein Air Festival: July 14-17, 2022

We were excited welcome 50 Plein Air Painters to Evanston for the first ever Plein-air painting festival.

The juried invitational was judged by Master Plein Air Painter, Don Yang.

Artists were invited to paint all over Evanston, capturing the beauty of Evanston’s natural environment, favorite landmarks and built environment.  The festival’s grand finale was an exhibit of one piece from each artist submitted for judging for Best of Show and 4 Honorable Mention awards, and a community vote for Festival Favorite.  The July 17th exhibit and judging was complimented by an open air art exhibit of the participating artists additional work.  Over 300 attendees voted for Festival Favorite and hundreds of people enjoyed meeting the artists, viewing the exhibit and collecting Evanston art.

Links to more about our PAF!

Plein Air Festival Blog

Roundtable press

2023 Evanston Plein Air Festival Interest Sign up



Evanston Plein Air Art Festival photo:

Mark Cleveland, event director, Don Yang, Plein air festival judge

Best of Show: Scott Lloyd Anderson

Honorable Mention; Maria Delton, RL Weber, Jane Sloss, Karen Beauprie 

Liz Cramer and Lisa Degliantoni with Evanston Made

Gallery of Exhibited Work: (coming asap)


2022 Evanston Plein Air Festival Participating Artists:

Kerstin Alischowewski•Scott Lloyd Anderson•Karen Beauprie•Christina Body•Liz Brent•Jaimie Brunet•Pat Brutchin•Kimberly Burnett•Anna Cherkashina•Chloe Chow•Muriel Christensen•Mark Cleveland•Maureen Crowley•Majorie Davidson•Maria Delton•Zarina Docken•Sue Dunmore•John Fleck•Joseph Frey•Chris Froeter•Denise Grossman•Barabara Herring•John Herron•Kuhn Hong•Pricilla Huang•Peter Jablokow•Sarah Kaiser-Amaral•Julie Keating•Laurie Kennard•Richard Laurent•Sachin Mehta•Allison Neggers•Carol Neiger•Deborah Paige-Jackson•Christie Patterson•Joe Patterson•Alvino Perez•Julie Porter•Emmy Savage•Jane Sloss•Ann Spletz•Amanda Brodie Stenlund•Robin Strand•Joseph Taylor•Malik Turley•Willian Turley•RL Weber•Amy Williamson•Jill Zylke



Event Description:

The community is invited to watch Plein Air Artists capture the beauty of Evanston, purchase art and judge works on the final day of the festival.

The festival takes place over 4 days and follows the general approach familiar to artists participating in local “Plein air “events in the area. Join us at Fountain Square in Downtown Evanston, Sunday, July 17, 1-3p, for Judging followed by Awards and Artist Reception 3-5p.

July 10-16, competing artists will check-in, authenticate up to 5 blank work surface(s) and paint at locations across Evanston. Visit the Google map to track follow painters. Follow @evanston_made on Instagram and Facebook for locations to see and meet painters, follow #evanstonpleinair

Special Events 

  • July 16, 9:30a, Space 900, 816 Dempster St., Artist Talk- “Stepping into the light – Getting started in Plein Air” with Evanston Plein Air Festival Director and Plein Air Painters Chicago Co-Chair Mark Cleveland.
  • July 16, 12-8p, MDM Plein Air Music Festival & Front Porch Concert Series, 600 Main Street Train Station Alley.
  • July 16, 9a-4p, Don Yang and Plein Air Painters at Grosse Point Lighthouse, Lighthouse Beach Evanston, 2603 Sheridan Rd.
  • July 16, 1-5p, Artist Book House Pop Up Shop, Harley Clarke Mansion, Lighthouse Beach Evanston, 2603 Sheridan Rd.
  • July 17, 1-3p, Plein Air Artists Exhibit and Art Sale at Fountain Square in Downtown Evanston.
  • July 17, 3-5p, Festival Judging, Awards and Artist Reception, at Fountain Square in Downtown Evanston.


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