Hester Mallonee paints at Red Cliffs Lodge near the Colorado River during the 2011 Plein Air Moab. (Courtesy Plein Air Moab)

There is beauty all around: Both in landscape and on canvas.

PleinAir Moab will host 120 artists that will set up their easels throughout the countryside to capture the light and scenery between Oct. 9 and 13.

PleinAir is a national organization that hosts painting competitions and art shows across the country. “Painting en plein air” is French for “painting in the open air”, which gained popularity in the 19th century Europe with realist painters who sought truth in nature. It was later embraced by impressionists such as Monet and Renoir who conveyed the expression of light.

During PleinAir events artists have their canvases and papers stamped to prove the painting were created on site during the event.

Bonnie Griffith traveled to Moab last year to paint during PleinAir Moab. Griffith is from the Northwest and splits her time between homes in Walla Walla, Wash. and Miles City, MT. She has attended PleinAir events on the San Juan Islands of Washington, near Hood River, Ore., and Moscow, Idaho.

She had visited Moab once before in the 1970s while on a road trip through the Southwest. She saw an advertisement through PleinAir about the Moab event and thought what a wonderful opportunity it would be to return to paint.

“Moab is one of those places that the area is so diverse and beautiful. You could paint a painting by just turning in any direction,” Griffith said. “You’re never wanting in something to paint in the Moab area.”

Griffith worked in pastels last year. She featured the work she did in Moab on her website.

“I have since sold several pieces that I did in Moab,” she said.

This year she plans to work with both oil and pastels.

On Thursday, Oct. 11 artists will converge on downtown Moab for a quickdraw. Artists have three hours to recreate the scenes and scenery of Moab. The freshly painted works will be displayed, judged and presented with award and sold at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center.

The event isn’t only for artists. It is for those who love art as well.

Several art shows will be featured through the week. There is even an evening of instruction on Friday, Oct. 12 to learn the art of collecting by Donna Poulton, the curator of Art of Utah and The West at the University of Utah.

“Artists have long realized that Moab is a beautiful place,” said MARC Director Laurie Collins. “This event invites painters to gather in some friendly competition and encourages buyers to support their work. Of course, winning paintings sell very quickly, sometimes within minutes; however there is a wide variety of work here. There’s something to fit most budgets.”

PleinAir Moab is the MARC’s signature visual arts event. More artists gather for this event than any MARC event.

Maybe it is for the prize money.

Over $6,000 will be awarded to artists on Saturday, Oct. 13.

Quick Draw submissions and Main Competition Paintings may be viewed and purchased at the MARC from Oct. 9-13.