Plein Air Painting to Help Special-Needs Teens

I wanted to share a plein air event and accompanying exhibition that is taking place this weekend in Pennsylvania. Nancy Bea Miller, a painter and mother of three, has organized a plein air paint-out to benefit the Camphill Special School’s Transition Program for teens and youths with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which will take place Saturday, August 8. Following the paint out there will be an exhibition of the artists’ work at The Rosenfeld Gallery, in Old City, Philadelphia, beginning November 3.

Miller’s 15-year-old son Henry is a student at the Camphill Special School, and when the school purchased the 55-acre Beaver Farm and began renovating it to house its Transition Program for 18- to 21-year-olds, she knew she needed to get the public—and especially artists—to visit the this beautiful area. “This place is so otherworldly, and there is almost this golden atmosphere of healing there,” she says. “I knew that I personally wanted to paint it, but then as I was walking the ground I imagined getting a large group of artists together and creating a plein air event that would raise money for Camphill’s transition program.”

Beaver Farm, in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Photo: Nancy Bea Miller

Miller had no trouble getting nationally known artists to rally behind this cause and participate in the paint out. Between 30 and 40 artists from the greater Philadelphia area will partake in the event, including Stuart Shils, Elizabeth Wilson, Jeffrey Reed (the head of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ painting department), and Al Gury, as well as other well-known artists including Alexandra Tyng, Marianne Mitchell, Valerie Craig, Joe Sweeney, and Jon Redmond.

“I am deeply touched and grateful that so many artists have been so generous and enthusiastic about this event,” Miller says. “Camphill Special School at Beaver Run is an amazing institution with an international reputation, and by lending their time and talent, these artists are helping to support and continue their efforts.”

For more information, visit the Camphill Special School and Plein Air at Beaver Farm.

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Allison Malafronte

About Allison Malafronte

Allison Malafronte is the senior editor of American Artist magazines, and the project editor of  Plein Air Painting and Workshop With the Masters magazines. She is also the creative manager of the Weekend With the Masters Workshop & Conference ( which was launched in 2009 and is now in its third year. She is author of the Art for Thought column in American Artist magazine (also on the Artist Daily site under The Artist's Life blog) and the 2008-2010 Plein Air blogs on Artist Daily. 

4 thoughts on “Plein Air Painting to Help Special-Needs Teens

  1. Having a sister with special needs, this story immediately caught my attention. It’s so wonderful to see that these artists are so enthusiastic about this. It really touches my heart! Thanks for a great story!

  2. A wonderful story and great example for getting involved in projects for youth. I am sure that sure that she is a very busy Mom juggling responsibilities of family and art career and fund raising! Nice of you to highlight her story and the artists that are supporting the project
    by volunteering time and talent.

  3. Thank you everyone, especially the folks at American Artist for running this piece! It was an amazing day and the artists are already clamoring to make it an annual event, which we hope to do! Can’t wait for the show in November…it should be out of this world!

  4. Thank you Sheila, Katherine, and Nancy for the feedback. Glad to hear this has personally resonated with each of you; and, Nancy, very happy to hear how well the day turned out. Hope you’re able to make it an annual event!