The Art Alliance of Idyllwild, in partnership with the Idyllwild Garden Club, offers its annual Plein Air Festival from Friday, June 6, to Sunday, June 8.

For the layman, plein air painting is that which is done outdoors, a movement begun in the mid- to late-19th century by French impressionists who sought to capture the nuances of natural light by painting outdoors rather than in a studio. Plein air painting increased in popularity in the late 1870s with the introduction of paint in tubes, which eliminated the need for artists to grind and mix dry pigment powders with linseed oil to create paint.

This year for the first time, artists will be required to paint at one of the featured venues on the Idyllwild Garden Club’s Mountain Garden Tour, which takes place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participating artists may use oils, acrylics, watercolors or pastels.

The event kicks off with an artist panel and demonstration by past first-place winner Fariad Ali, an accomplished plein air painter and AAI 2013 Artist of the Year, from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Grand Idyllwild Lodge, 54820 Pine Crest Ave. This is open to the public and does not require registration.

The opportunity for locals and tourists to see art being created outdoors begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, and continues to 4 p.m. Although Plein Air Festival painters must paint at one of the six Mountain Garden Tour private garden venues, they may also paint in locations around town of their choosing. Tickets for the Mountain Garden Tour are available for purchase at the Idyllwild Pharmacy, Lily Rock Native Nursery across from the Rustic Theatre and at the Garden Club website,

The Plein Air Festival culminates on Sunday at the Grand Idyllwild Lodge with an art show where participating artists display their recently created works as well as other work of their choosing. Only art created on Saturday will be judged. The event begins at 9 a.m. with a free champagne brunch. Although the plein air creations of the registered artists will be judged by William Gullette, award-winning professional photographer and professor emeritus at Palomar Community College, art show attendees may also vote for a People’s Choice award.

Event cohosts Mike Ahern, Living Room Gallery owner, and Shanna Robb, AAI member standing in for AAI Chair Gary Kuscher, are excited to couple their event with that of the Garden Club. “This allows participating artists access to private gardens which they otherwise would not have had,” said Robb. “It’s all about the light and painting in the here and now. The added benefit for the painters is that garden owners will likely attend the awards ceremony to see the finished art created in their own private spaces.” Robb noted the partnership with the Garden Club is a win for all involved.

AAI is in the forefront of co-marketing with other local nonprofits, finding through joint participation wider audiences for co-marketed events.