Annapolis in the spring is like a living postcard, an artist’s dream. It has all of the elements:  shiny boats, glistening waters, flowers blooming, children playing, busy segue and walking tours, people enjoying lunch on restaurant patios and, one of my favorite views, artists scattered throughout the scenery painting plein air (outdoors). Some of these painters are getting ready for Paint Annapolis, an international plein air competition that occurs during the first week in June; others simply love to paint outdoors. Why not be one of them?

Do you like to paint? Are you a dabbler? Are you a serious artist? Are you someone who put your paintbrush down years ago and for whom it has been calling to you of late? Plen air painting is a great time to combine the joy of painting with being outdoors… the best way to experience spring. I keep wandering out of my studio to sketch outdoors because it is irresistible. It is even more fun painting in a group with an instructor for guidance.

There are some pretty terrific one-time workshops in town designed to get you doing what you love in a friendly and welcoming environment, regardless of your skill level or experience. Conducted by well-established respected art professionals in Annapolis, these workshops are perfect if you are just coming here for a short weekend getaway, or if you don’t want to commit to on-going classes.

Here’s my top pick: MFA’s (Maryland Federation of Art) workshop, Plein Air Nocturne Paint Out, on May 24 at 7 p.m., led by regionally-renowned plein air artist David Diaz. For an incredible $15 (non-members; join MFA and it is only $10), David will do a demonstration on the ins and outs of plein air painting at night, and then get everyone set up to do their own painting. Intriguing, isn’t it? You will need to bring typical plein air supplies, as well as some sort of lighting, such as a battery-powered clip lamp, book lamp, etc. Details can be found on the MFA website.

Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts offers variations on the traditional plein air workshop.  Summer Travel Sketchbook class with instructor Mary Ellen Carsley occurs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 18 (I might see you there!), and if you like pastel painting, there is a two-day weekend workshop, Plein Air Landscape Painting in Pastel, May 14 and 15, led by artist Desiree Holmes Scherini. Check out the details on their website.

Perhaps you’d like to freshen up your skills indoors first and then head outdoors. Anne Arundel Community College offers several Saturday workshops this summer that are a perfect fit for weekend visitors looking to try their hand at painting, or to improve their skills. Oil Painting: Easy and Fast is a three and half hour workshop (June 25) offered by instructor Carolyn Councell, where you will start and complete an oil painting in three hours.

If you’ve always admired Asian art you might enjoy the three-hour Introduction to Chinese Brush Painting by instructor Mei Yu Green. Supplies are provided in both of these workshops, Find the details on their website’s Non-Credit Catalog page of the website, here.

For a truly special getaway, book a night at an Annapolis B&B or hotel, so you can have fun painting and then enjoy dinner at one of the area’s restaurants that offers outdoor seating—your new-found painting buddies will tell you their favorite. Then get up and enjoy breakfast in historic downtown Annapolis. What a great way to spend a spring or summer weekend.


Cover photo by Desiree Holmes Scherini and Bob Peterson.