Roger Tory Peterson Plein Air Festival

The Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York (photo above and Robin Zeffers Clark’s 2020 watercolor The Welcoming Embrace below) is a living embodiment of the Peterson Field Guide. It is a gateway to the natural area wonders that inspired Roger Tory Peterson to his career as one of the world’s premier artist-naturalists and international ambassadors for the protection of nature.

With a 27-acre nature preserve of wildflower gardens, pollinator meadows, and mature stands of hemlock trees, the Peterson Preserve is a sanctuary for visitors. To celebrate this and other natural areas in Chautauqua County, RTPI is thrilled to announce our inaugural Plein Air Festival.


The Roger Tory Peterson Institute Plein Air Festival is a two-day, open enrollment plein air painting event in Chautauqua County, New York on Thursday, September 8th and Saturday, September 9th, 2022. Artists will have the opportunity to discover the beautiful natural scenery of Western New York which inspired a young Roger Tory Peterson. Artists may paint at a variety of locations within the area, with suggested locations provided two weeks prior to the festival. Locations will include the Roger Tory Peterson Institute nature preserve, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Jamestown Community College Campus Park, Audubon Community Nature Center, and the downtown Jamestown Riverwalk.

Following two days of painting, painters are invited to display their completed works at the “Wet Paint” sale on Saturday September 10th. All paintings submitted to the show will be entered into a judged plein air painting competition, with awards given out during the closing reception on Saturday, September 10th from 5-7pm.


All submitted art to the show will also be considered for an exhibition of plein air paintings at RTPI, to be held in the Fall of 2022 through Spring of 2023.

Locations: Roger Tory Peterson Institute (host), Jamestown Community College, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Jamestown Riverwalk; Audubon Community Nature Center

$65 early bird registration, April 1st – May 31st
$75 regular registration, June 1st – September 7th

RTPI members receive a 10% discount on registration
Registration is limited to the first 60 artists

Wednesday, September 7 
12:00 – 5:00 p.m.     Artist check-in at RTPI
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.       Art After Five: Plein Air Festival Kickoff at RTPI (ticket price included in registration fee)

Thursday, September 8
All Day    Painting day

Friday, September 9 
Dawn to 3:00 p.m.   Painting day
4:00 p.m.                  All paintings and paperwork must be turned in to RTPI

Saturday, September 10
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.     Preview showing for sponsors & judging of works
12:00 – 5:00 p.m.               Public “Wet Paint” Art Show
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.                 Closing reception & awards ceremony

Information for artists:

  • Registration is limited to the first 60 artists.
  • Registered artists will check-in at RTPI the afternoon of Wednesday, September 7th, 2022 between 12:00 and 5:00 pm (or if needed, between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm Wednesday, or Thursday) to have their canvas or paper stamped prior to beginning work to be eligible for entry in the Saturday show and sale.
  • Paintings must be two-dimensional medium including oils, acrylics, watercolor, gouache, ink, mixed media, and pastels.
  • All paintings must be done “en plein air” outside, in natural lighting during the time frame of the event.
  • Artists may stamp an unlimited number of canvases but will submit only one piece for the Wet Paint Show & Sale.
  • Canvases must be free of images prior to stamping, though a solid base coat of paint is allowed.
  • All work is to be wired for hanging and framed with an open back to facilitate viewing of the festival stamp on the back. No unframed gallery wraps will be accepted.
  • All work must be turned in with paperwork by 4:00 pm Friday, September 9th, 2022.
  • 30% commission on all artwork sold during the Plein Air Festival will be retained by RTPI, with all event sales handled by RTPI.
  • All proceeds from the registration and art sale will go towards fulfilling the mission of RTPI in the community.
  • Payment to artists for awards and work sold will be mailed within 30 days after the event ends.
  • Any “off the easel” sales during the event agree to donate to RTPI comparable to the event commission.
  • Any unsold art may be collected by the artist at the conclusion of the awards ceremony at 7:00pm on Saturday, September 9th. RTPI is not responsible for return shipping.
  • Artworks selected for the exhibition will remain at RTPI on loan until Spring of 2023. If sold during the festival, artworks will be delivered to the buyer by RTPI after the exhibition closes. Unsold works will be delivered to the artists by RTPI after the exhibition closes.

We are grateful to the Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth (CCPEG) for sponsoring the inaugural RTP Plein Air Festival.