Paint Grand Traverse is One of Our Favorite Traverse City Events—Here’s Why

Traverse City’s plein air painting festival, Paint Grand Traverse, will feature more than 40 award-winning artists from across the country who will spend the week composing Northern Michigan landscapes on canvas.

The second annual event is August 12–18.  Artists will do several paintings a day, which will be for sale throughout the week at Crooked Tree Arts Center (322 Sixth St., Traverse City). Petoskey’s Kevin Barton, Chicago-based Shar Coulson and TC’s Lori Feldpausch are just a few of the talented artists being showcased.

“Artists drop off paintings at the arts center as they’re completed each day, so the collection rotates and grows during the week,” says event organizer Megan Kelto. “We’ll even sell paintings off the easel as they’re being done. If you see an artist out at a winery and they’re in the middle of a painting that you have to have, we can make it happen.”

Artist Joe Anna Arnett

A spectator favorite last year, the Quick Draw Competition, will be held Thursday, August 15. Artists will have just two hours to create a painting at Crystal Mountain and the Michigan Legacy Art Park. Following, while the paint is still wet, there will be a sale and awards ceremony. The free event includes the 40+ featured artists, along with anyone else who wants to compete.

“There’s only a handful of high-level plein air festivals across the country like this,” says Cindy McSurely, Crooked Tree Art Center’s development director. “This is like an Olympic sport for artists.”

Paint Grand Traverse culminates on Saturday, August 17 with an evening gala, art sale, awards ceremony and strolling dinner with live music at Crooked Tree Arts Center. Gala tickets can be purchased online at MyNorthTickets.com, or call 800.836.0717. (Note, tickets sold out last year.) There will also be a ticketed presale hour, which is an opportunity to be the first to shop the collection of more than 200 paintings created that week. A free morning-after-sale is set for Sunday, August 18.

Artist Kevin Barton in Downtown Traverse City

See the Paint Grand Traverse artists in action:

You’re invited to watch the artists paint, ask questions and even buy art on-site. Visit paintgrandtraverse.com for live information on each artist’s exact location.

  • Monday, August 12 – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Tuesday, August 13 – Leelanau Peninsula
  • Wednesday, August 14 – Old Mission Peninsula + Sara Hardy Farmers Market
  • Thursday, August 15 – Quick Draw Competition, Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville
  • Friday, August 16 – Downtown Traverse City

View the full schedule of community events, including workshops for children and adults, lectures and live demonstrations at paintgrandtraverse.com.