31st Carmel Art Festival

The Carmel Art Festival in California is an annual event that transforms the picturesque seaside town of Carmel-by-the-Sea into a center of creativity and culture. Each May, this festival celebrates the magic of plein air painting, where artists capture the breathtaking coastal landscapes. seascapes,  and charming architecture of the area in just a few days. Visitors are treated to the thrill of watching artists bring scenes to life, bidding on exquisite art at auctions, and diving into a variety of engaging exhibitions and workshops.

I’ve been part of this artistic extravaganza nearly every year since 2006. In recent years, participating has become more convenient since we now live locally, eliminating the need for travel and accommodations—though those adventures were part of the charm! Artists have about two days to create at least two world-class paintings ready for sale.

Check-in was on Wednesday morning, where festival officials stamped the back of our canvases to ensure all paintings were freshly created within the two-day timeframe.

After my canvas was stamped, faced with morning gloom, I was uncertain about my first painting location. However, being halfway there, I ventured on to Garrapata State Park near Soberanes Point. Despite the overcast skies, a little artistic imagination brought the scene to life.

Next, I headed to Ft Ord Dunes State Beach. I walk there 3-5 times a week as it is near our home in Marina. Last year, a painting I created there won the People’s Choice Award and was featured as this year’s festival poster. Although I didn’t expect to capture lightning in a bottle twice, I hoped for a bit of the same magic by painting close to last year’s spot, yet capturing an entirely new scene.

Thursday morning was gloomy again, so I stayed in the studio to touch up and frame the previous day’s paintings. By early afternoon, I was off to Elkhorn Slough to create another piece.

The festival is not just about art—it’s a vibrant celebration with live music, gourmet food, and family-friendly activities, offering a rich and inclusive cultural experience that showcases the artistic heritage of the region. Since I won People’s Choice Award last year, my painting was the festival poster for this year. Here are a few photos of the festival.

Here are my three pieces for the show.

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