Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Revisiting: Kansas City & Penn Valley Plein Air 2016

"The View Through Union Station" (oil on panel, 14"x18") by Patrick Saunders.
Best In Show - 2016 Penn Valley Plein Air
Painting photo by Saunders Fine Arts.

Penn Valley Park Plein Air takes place in our former hometown of Kansas City, providing us the opportunity to revisit some of our favorite places. Our first stop (after some Mildred's Snickerdoodle coffee) was the Kansas City NPR affiliate, KCUR. The previous fall, KCUR journalist Julie Denesha had written a story about us, just as we began our journey as Plein Air Streaming. We were asked to come back in May for a follow-up interview on the show Central Standard. The entire experience was a bit of a blur, and neither of us could remember much of what we said, so we had to check the playback later - you can listen to it too here if you missed it the first time. Or not.

Plein Air Streaming on the radio.

Listening to the playback, hearing ourselves talk about how much we love our new lifestyle, was a real eye opener as to how much had changed. Our previous Kansas City experience had been corporate jobs, chasing freelance work, and home ownership. Now, Kansas City was another fun stop on our cross country tour. The whole city felt different, and so did we.

With the interview out of the way, it was time for BBQ. There is no better town for it, and in our opinion, no better place for it, than LC's. Feel free to argue in the comments below. We will not be swayed. Sorry, but Joe's Kansas City isn't even close. LC's was everything we remembered it to be.

Nothing better than a slab of ribs from LC's.

It's a toss up as to whether I came to Kansas City for the BBQ or the event, but I should really talk more about painting. I've already written about a couple of pieces from Penn Valley - (Every Place Holds a Memory - Penn Valley Plein Air Festival and Check Your Rearview - Penn Valley Plein Air Festival).

The Friday quick paint was scheduled to take place on the north lawn of the Liberty Memorial. The park has a sweeping view of downtown Kansas City with Union Station as the centerpiece. I arrived a few hours early, and with time to kill, I decided to try my hand at painting a view of Union Station. I don't care to create the same painting more than once, but revisiting the same subject with a different point of view can be a real joy. The previous year, I had painted the station during a thunderstorm, continually stopping to dump water accumulating on my palette. This year, the weather was perfect. While I'm sure the extreme difference in conditions had an effect, I could also feel that another year's worth of practice had improved my confidence. It's startling to see the differences and similarities in the two paintings.

On the left "Union Station In Rain" (oil on canvas, 16"x12) 2015.
On the right "The View Through the Station" (oil on panel, 14"x18") 2016
Photos courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.

The year before during this same quick paint event, I had attempted to paint the skyline, and I was not at all happy with the result.  After my success with the Union Station painting, I was warmed up and determined to try again. This one was the real test. The conditions were all exactly the same as the year before - same bright sun, same time of day. The only difference would be me. An hour into the painting, I knew that my work over the previous year had paid off. Last year, I didn't feel that I had finished before the final horn blew. This time, I finished in half the time. The painting went on to take first place.

Patrick and his First Place winner "Path to the Station"
(oil on panel, 12"x16") with judge Michael Albrechtsen.
Photo by Plein Air KC.

Saturday night was the finale of the festival with the show opening at Buttonwood Artspace. I was surprised to find that "The View Through Union Station" took Best In Show. This really capped off a great visit to Kansas City, filled with the old, the new and the unexpected.

Before we left the city, we also had to hit El Camino Real for the best pastor tacos in the entire country. So is this an art/travel blog or a food blog? Hey, good food fuels good painting. - Patrick

Patrick and his Best In Show winner "The View Through Union Station"
(oil on panel, 14"x18") with judge Michael Albrechtsen.
Photo courtesy of Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick & Kimberly Saunders, Plein Air Streaming, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Saunders Fine Arts for photographs, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. I'm glad you left it open to argue about the best BBQ, I always have to go to Gates. Congrats on your best in show and all you've accomplished this summer.

  2. Thank you Jessica! Give LC's a try if you haven't already and let us know what you think. You might just change your mind. :)