Santa Rosa Day 1

Paint the Desert Festival Showcases Local Artists

In its third year, the annual Paint the Desert festival celebrates plein air and artistic talent.

Steven Biller Arts & Entertainment

Santa Rosa Day 1

Two artists blend into their surroundings while painting during the Desert Plein Air Festival. 

Sixteen artists earned prizes and recognition for their paintings at the third annual Paint the Desert festival. The event began with four days of paint-outs at different scenic locations, including the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center in Palm Desert, Cove Oasis Trailhead in La Quinta, and La Plaza in downtown Palm Springs. The artists picked and studied their vantage points, painted on site, and submitted their canvases for the exhibition and judging. The exhibition featured a companion show featuring desert landscape paintings completed in the artists’ studios, expanding artist participation and the scope of paintings available for the public to view and purchase at the festival.

The Coachella Valley has a long and storied history of plein air painting, dating back to the mid-1880s when the Southern Pacific Railroad put down track through the desert and allowed artists to ride in exchange for their paintings, which the railroads used in advertisement to promote travel to the West.

Downtown Palm Springs day 3
La Quinta Cove day 2.

At the Paint the Desert festival, organized by the Desert Plein Air Association, more than 80 artists from near and far entered a total of 110 paintings. Three judges — George Stern of George Stern Fine Art, Crystal Curtis of Jones & Terwilliger Galleries, and Steven Biller of Palm Springs Life — selected the winning paintings.

The plein air winners were Jessica Fan (best in show), Kathleen Strukoff (first place), Lorraine Marie-Cote (second place), and Nita Harper (third place). Joyce Trinh, Don Krotee, Greg Wallace, and Joe Dietl reveived honorable mentions.

Santa Rosa day 1
Santa Rosa day1
La Quinta Palms

La Quinta Palms by Jessica Fan. 

The studio painting winners were Sarah Krzesowiak (best in show), Elaine Mathews (first place), Raymundo Valdez (second place), and Peter Justl (third place). Honorable mentions were David Wolfram, Snake Jagger, Deborah Newman, and Suzy Voss.

The exhibition continues through Feb. 4.

Breakfast at La Plaza by Ellen Jean Diederich.

Breakfast at La Plaza by Ellen Jean Diederich.

Man vs Nature by Krista Wargo.
Man vs Nature by Krista Wargo.
Cove Oasis Fantasy by Marina Maldonado-Pagan
Cove Oasis Fantasy by Marina Maldonado-Pagan. 
Artwork at the Plein Air Exhibit.
Artwork at the exhibition.