Instructor: John Preston

Application Fee (non-refundable):$25.00 (required)

WHO: Two beginner plein air painters (3 years experience or less) looking to focus on creative exploration and inner reflection in a quiet rural setting.

  • 21 years and older
  • Has a passion for painting outdoors
  • Able to follow directions and accept constructive criticism
  • Has complete knowledge of the painting process, whether it be oil, watercolor, acrylic, or pastels. 

WHEN: Mentorship starts Saturday July 20th with a final exhibit on Friday July 26th at the Van Buren County Fairgrounds. Ending Saturday July 27th.

DEADLINE: Application deadline is 9am CST on Friday June 28, 2024. Selected participants will be announced Monday, July 1 .

TUITION: Tuition and material fee is paid in full by Villages Folk School with no expense to the selected participant.

HOUSING: Lodging is provided during the duration of the mentorship. Participants will share a 2 bedroom home. 

TRANSPORTATION: You will need to provide your own transportation and meals. Van Buren County is very rural with 10 miles between villages and only a few villages offer gas and food. You absolutely need a car.

MATERIALS:  Participants must bring their own painting set up.. easel, canvas, paints, brushes, etc. along with clothing and any protection (bug spray, umbrella, chair, etc) needed.

NOTE: Interaction with the small rural community is a must. There will be a short speaking engagement and certain hours of your time will be offered to share your creative journey and abilities with the public. 

Villages Folk School's Creative Escape program brings together Van Buren County's seasoned artisans with emerging and upcoming artists to help preserve traditional arts through hands-on learning. Selected participants will retreat to a cottage near the Des Moines River in a quaint historic village as they unplug from the world and expand their creative talents in a nearby artisan studio.

Folk school instructor and world renowned painter, John Preston, will take the participants under his wing as he gives an in-depth and up-close two-day seminar (Saturday/20 and Sunday/21) on plein air painting.  Participants will then have a few days to practice their newly discovered tips and tricks. On Wednesday/24 awarded plein air artists and instructor, Larry Siwek, with give a morning demonstration and class to kick off the Paint The Fair, plein air contest. To follow will be 3 days of painting scenic Van Buren County and submitting works to a final exhibit on Friday at 4pm. Awards and cash prizes given. 

 This program boasts a unique perspective for a broadening artist as there are no classrooms, the participant will be working one-on-one with experienced and awarded plein air instructors in production mode. In addition to supervision/instruction, the participant will be mentored on preparation of supplies, how to share their craft with others, and the important role that an artisan plays in a rural community.

The inspiring and relaxing atmosphere of scenic Van Buren County, Iowa is and will continue to be a haven for creative beings.

REMINDER: Applicant needs to have painting experience but new to plein air painting.  Those without experience will not be considered. This mentorship will support the painter in broadening their abilities through exploration and inner reflection.

TO APPLY: simply click "Apply Today" and complete the form to follow. Then click Submit with your $25 application fee. Application fees are non-refundable and 100% of them support the mentorship program.  Applications will be accepted through 9:00am CST Friday June 28th. The selected participant will be notified/announced on Monday July 1st.

Apply Today