Bath County Plein Air Festival is September 29 – October 5

The Bath County Plein Air Festival is under way.  It’s a weeklong celebration where artists visit Bath to paint and festival activities connect those artists with the community.  Barbara Buhr is the festival’s founder and the owner of Warm Springs Gallery.

“Plein Air basically means painting in the outdoors,” says Buhr.  “And it comes from the early impressionists, the French, when people like Monet went outside and they painted.  And very often artists just painted in their studio, so this is in contrast to studio painting.  We’ll have artists on the streets, along the riverbanks, with their easels up and painting the image that’s right in front of them.”

This is the festival’s second year and it features some new events.   There’s going to be a Farm to Table dinner Thursday.   The artists will spend time on farms painting scenes that day and the paintings will be on exhibit and for sale at the dinner that evening.

“We would like to thank The Omni Homestead this year, because they are sponsoring several events for the festival,” says Buhr.  “They’ve been very supportive of the event and they’re making many contributions to the success of the event.”

On Friday and Saturday several events will be held at The Omni Homestead.  The artists will paint, there’s a lunch, talks, demonstrations and an exhibition of the paintings done there.  On Saturday morning children can participate in a quick paint, where they paint for two hours with the artists helping them get started.  And Saturday afternoon there’s a quick paint competition open to the public, where everyone is welcome to participate.

“We’ve been working with the Bath County Public Library and Rhonda Clayton has been working with the local community, the children, to do paintings for this event,” says Buhr.  “And then Andy Bality, one of my artists, he’s from Richmond, he will be not only the judge for the children’s event at the hotel but also will include the children’s paintings from the community.  And right now we have really a fun exhibition of paintings at the Bath County Public Library.  Andy did a series of circus paintings.  The paintings will be up there through the end of October.”

Seventy five artists applied to participate in this year’s Plein Air Festival and thirty were selected.  Artists from Virginia and eight other states will be here.

“I know sometimes art is a scary thing for many people,” says Buhr.  “But here you get to talk with the artist. You get to watch them create a painting.  They love to talk about their work.  So I would really encourage if you see people on the side of the road painting, you know, pull up, stop, talk with them, watch them.  I think you’ll really find it a very rewarding experience.”

The Bath County Plein Air Festival is Monday, September 29th, through Sunday, October 5th .  Artists will be painting around Bath County and demonstrations and events will be held at the Warm Springs Gallery, the Omni Homestead and other locations around the county.  Paintings will be for sale at several events and there is a charge for some of the festival events.

For more information on the Bath County Plein Air Festival call the Warm Springs Gallery at 540-839-2985.  Or visit

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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