Plein Air Painters of New Mexico (PAPNM) is a professional association of artists dedicated to the business of preserving and promoting painting "en plein air" - in the open air or outdoors. 

In addition to advancing plein air painting in the tradition of New Mexico's renowned early and mid-20th century artists, PAPNM provides regular opportunities for members to paint together during monthly "paintouts" and hosts annual juried and open exhibitions of members' work.

PAPNM is a 501(c)6 nonprofit corporation.

A Brief History

In 2007, a seminal group of dedicated artists expressed their passion for contemporary plein air painting by founding Plein Air Painters of New Mexico, with Marilyn Drake serving as the first president. Bylaws were written, membership levels and criteria established, a website launched, and monthly paintouts held. In 2008, PAPNM filed for non-profit status with the State of New Mexico. PAPNM grew to 146 members including 15 signature members. For its first two years, PAPNM held an annual paintout and exhibition followed by a members’ meeting and dinner.

Being outdoors and painting, especially when accompanied by fellow artists, was, and is, the underlying premise of PAPNM. There is nothing better than direct observation when it comes to depicting the subtleties of nature and capturing fleeting moments of pure magic. ~ Marilyn Drake, PAPNM Founding President

In January 2009, President Carla Forrest held the first transition and strategic planning session, with focus on formalizing the organization for member benefit and creating alliances with public land groups. By 2010, PAPNM hadobtained 501(c)6 non-profit tax-exempt status, launched a secure membership website, hosted numerous paintouts and workshops, and heldits first museum exhibition at Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos. In 2011, President Diana Stauffer focused on building PAPNM brand awareness through co-operative advertising campaigns and public relations initiatives and expanding member reach beyond New Mexico. Members were surveyed to ensure PAPNM was meeting their expectations. In 2012, under the leadership of President Nancy Silvia, PAPNM realized continued growth and stability.

In 2013, President Chuck Stup, with the help of many volunteers, made the Santa Fe Plein Air Festival a reality. Out-of-state membership grew and in-state membership remained steady through 2014, resulting in a total ofnearly 300 members. By 2015, Patron volunteers became vital in growing our organization, acquiring contributions, and raising funds. The total value of donations was $23,764. The largest donors were Southwest Art and Plein Air magazines. By the end of 2016, PAPNM had 6 Master Signature Members, 22 Signature Members, and 30 Patrons,in addition to the Artist Members. In 2017, the Board was expanded to include four new director positions to serve as advocates for functional areas of the organization: Membership, Governance,Communication and Events.

As of 2018, PAPNM has become an internationally respected arts organization. New Mexico was chosen as the location for Plein Air Magazine’s national Plein Air Convention and Expo, which was held April 16 through 20, 2018 at Buffalo Thunder Resortin Santa Fe. A record number of nearly 1,200 plein air painters from around the world participated. PAPNM staffed an information table at the convention to promote membership and painting en plein air in New Mexico. Two weeks after the convention ended, PAPNM hosted the 2018 Santa Fe Plein Air Fiesta, a week-long juried plein air event and exhibition at Sorrel Sky Gallery in Santa Fe. PAPNM is planning many other exciting events and activities for the future. Updates are regularly posted on the PAPNM website and announced in the quarterly newsletters.

PAPNM Presidents

John Meister, 2018
Tom Blazier, 2017
Punk Cooper, 2015-2016
Michael Lewis, 2014
Chuck Stup, 2013
Nancy Silvia, 2012
Diana Stauffer, 2011
Carla Forrest, Premier (first elected) President, 2009-2010
Marilyn Drake, Founding President, 2008

Current board members, committee chairs, and coordinators are listed on the PAPNM Contacts

Membership Benefits

New Mexico, the "Land of Enchantment," offers stunning painting opportunities throughout the state - endless skies, majestic mountains, mesas, buttes, arroyos, adobe houses and walls nestled in groves of aspen, cottonwood, juniper, and piƱon. Active PAPNM members may use the Members Only section of the PAPNM website for information about discounts and to see the Newsletters. They may see the Paintout Schedule on the Paintouts’ page and access registration on other Event pages for various members-only activities.  Members can create personalized profiles, which include contact information, website linkage, and images of their artwork! The PAPNM website privacy feature creates separate public and “Members Only” views. Anyone visiting the PAPNM website can view a member’s name, membership level, website link, artwork images, and personal photo as well as send a secure message to the artist. Only active PAPNM members can view detailed contact information about other members after securely logging onto the site.

Not a member? Visit the Join Us page so you can be eligible for all of PAPNM’s member benefits.

Exhibition Record

Visit the Albums page to see albums from all exhibitions. Links to Paintout albums will be found on the Paintouts’ page.


Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, assistance, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. From the ancient world onward, patronage of the arts was important in art history and defining culture. Samuel Johnson defined a patron as “one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help.” Art Patrons support PAPNM through the transformation of artistic expression and enrichment of culture in our beautiful Land of Enchantment by 

  •  Encouraging active community participation and offering inspiration 
  •  Shedding a spotlight on New Mexico artists, in order to learn and gain perspective for growth
  •  Proposing ideas and insights for an artist’s creative journey and voice

Art enthusiasts may be interested in subscribing to PAPNM’s mailing list to receive occasional announcements about PAPNM's exhibitions, workshops, and other events open to the public. Visit the Join Us page to set-up a free Patron account. Patrons may view a wealth of information on the PAPNM website, including sponsors, contacts, contest and show albums, events, and member directory with secure email. 


Plein Air Painters of New Mexico is very grateful to the many companies and organizations that donate goods and services that support our members’ efforts. We couldn’t do it without them! Please join us in supporting our sponsors by visiting their websites. Click the logos on the Sponsors page to learn more about our sponsors’ offerings and purchase their products. 

If you are interested in becoming a PAPNM sponsor, detailed information can be found on the Sponsors page.

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