Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Invitational!

Philip Carlton - Smokestack - 12"x24" - Oil - Plein Air


2020 Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Invitational

Dates: October 2nd - December 20th, 2020

Sponsored by:

Due to the COVID19 virus, the 2020 Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Invitational will be an online event.  Artists will be submitting 6 works to display virtually on this site.  Each artist will have their own page and will upload a short video explaining their process.  Because we will not be asking artists to visit the Grand Valley to stay with host families, they will be able to visit if it works for them.  Because some artists may not be able to visit the area this year, we will be allowing artists to submit studio pieces as well as plein air pieces.  These studio pieces may be larger more detailed works, and will be labeled as studio works. Plein air works will also be labeled as such.  Please join us as we celebrate the artists' interpretations of Colorado National Monument, as well as the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area (NCA) and the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area.

This year the BLM celebrates the 20th anniversary of the McInnis Canyons NCA. Located in the high desert canyon country of western Colorado and eastern Utah, McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area (NCA) is a prime recreation destination spanning approximately 123,000 acres. World-class mountain biking draws visitors from many countries to Mack Ridge and the 142-mile Kokopelli Trail, which extends to Moab, Utah. The Colorado River flows through the NCA’s Ruby and Horesthief canyons, providing boaters with shady beach camps, winding canyon side hikes, and astounding scenery.Originally known as Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area, the NCA was established by Congress on October 24, 2000, and later renamed in honor of Representative Scott McInnis on January 1, 2005.

More info on CCA:

Since this year's event will be online, we will be extending the duration of the show to December 20th, 2020. This will allow the artists to upload more paintings throughout the duration of the show.

List of Artists Accepted to the 2020 Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Event. Click on the artists' names to be taken to their individual page.

  1. Mark Akins

  2. Marilynn Brandenburger

  3. Allen Brockbank

  4. Eileen Guernsey Brown

  5. Philip Carlton

  6. Maggie Cook

  7. Loren Eakins

  8. Monica Esposito

  9. Laura Gable

  10. Kari Ganoung-Ruiz

  11. Tony Hilscher

  12. J. Brad Holt

  13. Susie Hyer

  14. Nancy Lewis

  15. John Lintott

  16. Dan Logé

  17. Marko Marino

  18. Susan Mayfield

  19. Jason McCullough

  20. Mick McGinty

  21. Bill Meuser

  22. Rachel Pettit

  23. Ken Requard

  24. Scott Ruthven

  25. Paula Swain

  26. Lewis Williams

  27. Anita Winter

The 2019 Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Invitational is in the books.  In its third year, the event raised money for the Colorado National Monument Association (CNMA) as well as the Colorado Canyons Association (CCA).  The Colorado Canyons Association was able to provide six willing artists a two-day plein air float trip down the Colorado River in Ruby Horsethief Canyon. These artists painted both days, fully supported, on a trip that we hope to offer each year. 

The artists had two group paint-outs, one at Saddlehorn Picnic area in Colorado National Monument, and one at the Devil’s Canyon Trail in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.  The overall consensus from the artists was that this part of Colorado is one of the most beautiful they had ever seen, and that many did not know about it.

The three day exhibition was hosted by Carlson Vineyards Winery at their tasting room location at 545 Main Street in downtown Grand Junction, CO.  Artists were able to relax after their busy week of painting and sample their wines as well as meet the public and collectors that came out to see the show.  Everyone involved is grateful to Carlson Vineyards Winery for all the help and hospitality that they put into the show.  

The judge for the exhibition, Dan Young, had the arduous task of awarding the ribbons to the works that he deemed exceptional.  It was a difficult job with all of the incredible art, and we were grateful that he accepted the challenge. Artists had the opportunity to chat with him over the stretch of the evening.  Thank you Dan!

The pieces that Dan Young chose for the awards are as follows:

1st Place: Melanie Thompson

2nd Place: Kadin Goldberg

3rd Place: Lyn Boyer


Honorable Mentions:

Scott Ruthven

Anita Winter

J. Brad Holt


Artists’ Choice Award: Melanie Thompson

People’s Choice Award: Kathleen Lanzoni

Hot Tomato Body of Work Award: Nancy Lewis


All photos by super awesome Christine Gearhart, Thanks Christine!

2019 Monuments and Canyons Participating Artists:

Joshua Been – Salida, CO –

Lyn Boyer – Durango, CO –

Maggie Cook – Grand Junction, CO –

Loren Eakins – Grand Junction, CO –

Monica Esposito – Whitewater, CO –

Kadin Goldberg – Laurel, MT –

Doug Graybeal – Carbondale, CO –

Bonnie Griffith – Meridian, ID –

Brad Holt – Cedar City, UT –

Susie Hyer – Evergreen, CO –

Chris Kolupski – Rochester, NY –

Kathleen Lanzoni – Boulder, CO –

Nancy Lewis – Palisade, CO –

Marko Marino – Grand Junction, CO –

Susan Mayfield – Salida, CO –

Jason McCullough – Wheat Ridge, CO –

Mick McGinty – Gilbert, AZ –

Rachel Pettit – Tooele, UT –

Brian Proud – Nashville, TN –

Kari Ganoung Ruiz – Interlaken, NY –

Scott Ruthven – Fort Collins, CO –

Jason Sacran –  Arkansas –

Jane Seglem – New Castle, CO

Lily Shanabarger – Fruita, CO

Paula Swain – Salt Lake City, UT –

Susan Thiele – Montrose, CO –

Melanie Thompson – Richland, WA –

Anita Winter – Centennial, CO –

2019 Sponsors

Judge announced for the 2019 Monuments and Canyons Plein Air Invitational!

This year’s Plein Air Invitational will be judged by Colorado artist Dan Young.

Dan Young was born in Denver, and grew up in western Colorado. “ Camping and fishing through out the Rocky Mountains as a child, has been a strong influence on me and my work,” Young stated. He attended Colorado Institute of Art, hoping to find a direction in art. After graduation he moved to Dallas to pursue the commercial art field. Even with a successful Illustration career, the landscape was always calling him back. In 1989, he returned to Colorado to begin painting full time. Young enjoys painting the rural life of the west, the ranches that dot the mountain valleys and river bottoms. He states,“ Though I’m a landscape painter, I like introducing hints of man’s presence in the landscape. Sometimes I feel I’m in a race to paint a disappearing way of life. It’s hard to watch so many of the family farms and ranches being swallowed up by development.”
Young clings strongly to the importance of painting from life. He feels painting from life was the most important stepping stone for his career. Most days you can find him painting along a backroad or beside a mountain lake.

  • Artist Dan Young

    Photo by Plein Air Magazine

  • Dan Young painting en plein air

    Photo by

  • Artwork by Dan Young

  • Artwork by Dan Young

  • Artwork by Dan Young

  • For more of Dan’s work, please visit his website:

The 2018 Colorado National Monument Plein Air Invitational is in the books.

This year was exceptional as far as weather goes.  It rained for nearly three days straight, but when it wasn’t raining, conditions were spectacular. It did not hamper any of the artists, and they took advantage of the breaks in the weather.  They collectively produced more work this year than last year’s event, and sold more work the first evening alone, than last year’s entire exhibition.  We at the CNMA are grateful to all of the artists that participated in this event and braved the crazy weather, and especially to the wonderful purchase award sponsors and members of the community that came out to add to, or start their collection of original artwork.

Our judge for this year’s event was artist David Grossmann.

The judge’s awards for the 2018 Colorado National Monument Plein Air Invitational are as follows:

1st Place Award (sponsored by Alpine Bank): Joshua Been of Salida, CO for his piece titled “It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere”

2nd Place Award (sponsored by Quick Temps, LLC): Doug Graybeal of Carbondale, CO

3rd Place Award (sponsored by Hot Tomato and Kannah Creek Brewing): Michael Wyszynski of Norwood, CO

Artists’ Choice Award (sponsored by Blick Art Materials): J. Brad Holt of Cedar City, UT

People’s Choice Award (sponsored by Blick Art Materials): Joshua Been of Salida, CO

All photos taken by our insanely awesome event volunteer Christine Gearhart.

Now that this year’s event has come and gone, we will be starting our discussions about how to make next year’s event even better.  The Colorado National Monument is an undiscovered gem, that we in the grand valley call our backyard.  It is with great excitement that we should share this special place with artists that can translate the beauty into something we can cherish forever.


2018 Participating Artists

Jody Ahrens, CO

Mark Akins, CO

Joshua Been, CO

Maggie Cook, CO

Mary Pat Ettinger, CO

Kadin Goldberg, MT

Bonnie Griffith, ID

Doug Graybeal, CO

J. Brad Holt, UT


Nancy Lewis, CO

Susan Mayfield, CO

Mark Marino, CO

Jason McCullough, CO

Charles Morris, CO

John Phillips, CO

Mike Simpson, CO

Richard Szkutnik, CO

Susan Thiele, CO

Michael Wyszynski, CO

We are beginning to plan our 2019 Colorado National Monument Plein Air event.  If you are interested in being involved, we are actively seeking volunteers, event sponsors, purchase award sponsors and host families for participating artists.  Please contact our art coordinator John Lintott, email: if you would like to help!

2018 Sponsors:

Chuck and Robbie Breaux