Farmers Market Spotlight: Season ends with Plein Air Quick Draw |

Farmers Market Spotlight: Season ends with Plein Air Quick Draw

David Harms of Denver paints during the 2018 Steamboat Plein Air Festival.
Rod Hanna/Courtesy

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Saturday’s Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market marks the end of the 2019 season, and it’s going out with a bang. For the first time ever, the Plein Air Quick Draw event will take place right in the middle of the market. 

The Quick Draw is the shortest, most energetic live outdoor painting event of the Steamboat Art Museum’s Steamboat Plein Air Festival. 

“There’s a lot of energy there, because they only have two hours, instead of all day or all week,” said Steamboat Art Museum Executive Director Betse Grassby.

The 35 or so artists participating in the Quick Draw — of the 60 in the festival — may choose anything to paint within the boundaries of the banks of the Yampa River to Lincoln Avenue, and between Fifth and 10th streets. The opportunity of subjects within these boundaries is huge: one artist may paint a still life of a single peach at a farm stand; another may paint the landscape of the entire market. 

“It’s this convergence of creativity and commerce that’s really fascinating,” said Main Street Steamboat’s Lisa Popovich. 

Starting at 10 a.m., with the ding of a bell, the painters begin painting. 

“As laypeople, we don’t really see the creative process — we just see the finished product,” Popovich said. “This is your opportunity to see someone creating something out of nothing.” 

At noon sharp, painting time ends. Artists get 30 minutes to frame their work, but quickly, because at 12:30 p.m., the paintings must be ready to be sold to Farmers Market goers.

If you purchase a new piece of plein air art at the Farmers Market, congratulations, and be careful — the paint may still be wet. 

For most of Plein Air Quick Draw’s history, the event took place at the local Wolf Run Ranch, with tickets required.

If you go

What: Steamboat Plein Air Festival’s Plein Air Quick Draw
When: Saturday, Sept. 21 with plein air painting from 10 a.m. to noon; painting sales from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Where: Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market, downtown Steamboat Springs

“Maybe 50 people would go,” Popovich said. “It was this little-known secret of an amazing event.”

Now, with the event downtown and with no tickets necessary, organizers aim to increase exposure and accessibility. 

“I think this is a really nonthreatening way to be introduced to art,” Popovich said. “You can watch the artist work if you want to — over their shoulder, or from far away. You can talk to them if you want to, or not. You don’t have to go to a special building to see it, and you don’t have to whisper. 

“Art is not about whispering,” Popovich added. 

Find more information about the Plein Air Quick Draw event at

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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