Arts and Entertainment

Snoqualmie Railroad Days | Painting the colors of the Valley

Painters of all skill levels are welcomed at the Snoqualmie Plein Air Paint Out, held during Railroad Days, Saturday, Aug. 20. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Painters of all skill levels are welcomed at the Snoqualmie Plein Air Paint Out, held during Railroad Days, Saturday, Aug. 20.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

“Come paint with us,” Jeff Waters invites. Whether or not you’ve ever painted before, he means it.

The Plein Air Paint Out event that Waters coordinates for Snoqualmie’s Railroad Days is an opportunity for artists of all levels to get inspiration, learn from each other, and to participate in the magic.

“The fun of going out in the field, of painting something plein air and having people come up (to watch) is they consider it magic,” he said. “This is voodoo.”

Plein Air is French for open air, and the Plein Air Paint Out happening from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday is simply a reason for artists to gather, create a painting in the outdoors, in a single day, in a beautiful setting.

“Plein air has become the big thing in art. Of course it goes back hundreds of years to Cezanne and others, but plein air is suddenly what all the artists want to do,” Waters said. “They love to be outside painting. That’s part of it. The other part is the incredible beauty of this valley, and the things that are here to paint... this is just a rich tapestry of places to paint.”

Rules and requirements for participation are minimal and, for those artists who don’t want to enter the poster contest, there’s only one rule: “You have to be on-site, working,” Waters said. Painters can also sell their works, of course. “We encourage that, and we don’t take any commission,” Waters added.

For those who hope to earn an appearance on the paint out poster for next year’s event, there are a few more rules—pay a $20 participation fee, start with a blank canvas, and have it stamped by the organizers—and a deadline of 3 p.m., when the artists’ reception begins at The Black Dog (formerly Isadora’s) on Railroad Avenue.

Members of the Snoqualmie Valley Arts Commission judge the paintings at the reception, which is open to the public. Their selection is the only prize planned for the paint out, but it’s the most important one.

“The grand prize is the poster selection for next year, which is what artists really want. They want their work to be seen,” Waters said.

To those who might be intimidated by the competitive aspect of the paint out, Waters offers reassurances that the last three posters were all works by hobby painters.

“We will have a lot of major artists here. We will also have—and this is the whole point—we will have rank amateurs,” Waters said.

To register for the Railroad Days Plein Air Paint Out, contact Waters at

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