2024 Plein Air Festival

The Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York 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 ambassador 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 third annual Plein Air Festival.

The Roger Tory Peterson Institute Plein Air Festival is a three-day, open enrollment plein air event in Chautauqua County, New York. Artists will have the opportunity to discover the beautiful natural scenery of Western New York which inspired a young Roger Tory Peterson. Artists may create works at a variety of locations within the area, with suggested locations provided two weeks prior to the festival.

Following three days of creating artworks en plein air, artists are invited to display their completed artworks at the “Wet Paint” show and sale on Saturday, September 14. All artworks submitted to the show will be entered into a judged plein air art competition, with awards announced during the closing reception on Saturday, September 14 from 5-7pm. All works submitted to the show will also be considered for an exhibition of plein air artworks at RTPI, to be held in the Fall of 2024 through Spring of 2025.


Registration Fee: $65 – RTPI members receive a 10% discount on registration. Registration is limited to the first 50 artists.


Wed., 9/11: Artist check-in at RTPI between 10-4pm

Fri., 9/13: All work must be turned in to RTPI with paperwork by 4pm

Sat., 9/14: 10am – 12pm: Judging of works & sponsor preview.

12pm – 5pm: Public “Wet Paint” art show and sale

5pm – 7pm: Closing reception & awards ceremony.


  • Registration is limited to the first 50 artists.
  • Registered artists will check in at RTPI on Wednesday, September 11, between 10am and 4pm (or if needed, between 10am and 4pm Wednesday, or Thursday) to have their substrate stamped prior to beginning work to be eligible for entry in the Saturday show and sale.
  • Artworks must be two-dimensional media including but not limited to oil, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, pastel, pencil, ink, and mixed media.
  • All artworks must be created outside, in natural lighting, during the timeframe of the event.
  • Artists may stamp an unlimited number of substrates but will submit only one piece for the “Wet Paint” show and sale.
  • Substrates 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. Artists must supply an easel on which to display their work.
  • All work must be turned in with paperwork by 4pm Friday, September 13.
  • 30% commission on all artworks sold during the “Wet Paint” show and sale 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.
  • Should artists sell their works “off the easel” during the Plein Air Festival, artists agree to donate to RTPI an amount comparable to the event commission.
  • Any unsold art may be collected by the artist at the conclusion of the awards ceremony at 7pm on Saturday, September 14, or during the week following the Plein Air Festival. RTPI is not responsible for return shipping.
  • Artworks selected for exhibition will remain at RTPI on loan until the close of the exhibition. Artists selected for exhibition will receive a loan form from RTPI. 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.

Featured artwork: Sara Baker Michalek, Impressions of the Meadow, 2023, paper collage