How do you interpret the world around you? If you have a creative eye and an affinity for color, Desert Ridge Marketplace wants you! The shopping center seeks youth and adult artists for the Plein Air Painting Festival on Saturday, March 7 at Desert Ridge Marketplace. 

Presented with the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance (SAACA), the Plein Air Painting Festival provides a unique opportunity for artists to create original painted artworks live and in the open air, capturing the essence of a vibrant retail and community space while inviting shoppers to experience the sight, sound, and even texture of the plein air process. Twenty-five artists will compete in the painting competition for $1,600 in cash prizes. 

The festival competition is free and open to any artist who paints using the Plein Air technique in oil, watercolor, acrylic or pastel. Plein Air (open air) paintings are executed outdoors from real life, as opposed to being painted from photographs in a studio. Both artist and subject must be outdoors, and photographs are NOT used. Contemporary plein air artists capture moments in time that reflect the ever-changing colors, light and shadows, temperature and shifting elements. To participate in the event as a featured artist, submit your application for free at

Not ready to rank your skills among the professionals? Youth artists, ages 10-17, can participate in the Youth Plein Ari Workshop from 12pm-1:30pm. Participants will be provided with painting materials and given hands on guidance from professional art instructors. Youth painters will have the opportunity to enter their painting in the official Youth Contest for a chance to win a $50, $75 or $100 cash prize. Youth artists interested in participating can register for free at 

Attendees can also drop in on artistic instruction at The District Stage throughout the day. The event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout The District, includes FREE art workshops for kids and adults. The event will culminate with People’s Choice Voting from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. with an awards ceremony at 5 p.m. honoring participating artists.