Bluff Strokes Paint out 2019

Sunday, Oct 6 thru Saturday, Oct 12, 2019

Artist Prospectus

Welcome to our fourth annual Bluff Strokes Plein Air Paint Out in historic Dubuque, Iowa!


  • Registration is limited to 60 artists. Artists will be selected to achieve a mix of approximately 2/3 returning and 1/3 new artists and a good geographic mix. Returning artists will be determined based on prior year awards and painting sales with consideration to any special circumstances.

  • All registrations postmarked by February 28 will be considered in the initial pool for selection. Open spots thereafter will be filled in order of receipt.

  • Entry Fee: $50 entry fee must be included with registration. The fee entitles artists to participate in all events (Main, Quick Paint and Nocturne). This will also cover an artist picnic and dinner/drinks at the Patron Party, Friday, Oct 12.

  • Entry fee checks will not be cashed until registration is accepted. Once cashed, fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

Check-in and Stamping

  • Event headquarters: Steeple Square, 15th St and White St, Dubuque, IA.

  • Check-in: Sunday, Oct 6, 8 am – 4 pm.

  • Check-in will also be available at River Lights Bookstore (1098 Main St) on Monday from 10 am to 6 pm. Extra materials may also be stamped there during the week.

  • At check-in, artists must provide a current W-9 as well as filled-in painting submission cards for prior work paintings.

  • Artists will also be asked to fill in a waiver of liability at check-in.

  • Artists will be given promo cards to hand out to viewers that advertise the Public Art Sale on Saturday. YOU are our best advertising!

Guidelines for All Paintings Submitted for Judging or Sale

  • Painting Boundaries: Dubuque County (except prior works).

  • In the spirit of plein air, 95% of each artwork must be created on site.

  • Up to 5 paintings may be submitted for judging for awards; 3 Main Event, 1 Nocturne, 1 Quick Paint.

  • Media may include: oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, or gouache.

  • Each work may have dimensions up to 320 sq inches (ex. 16"x20") of canvas, paper, or board unframed.

  • All work submitted must be framed. Maximum frame width: 4 1/4 inches. Maximum mat width (mat is optional): 4 inches.

  • Paintings must be securely wired for hanging; no alligator hangers.

  • All paintings (except prior works) must be date stamped at event check-in. Stamp must be visible on the back of each painting.

  • Artists will provide a card for each painting submitted (also included in Artist Packet), with artist’s name, title of artwork, medium, and price. Filling cards out ahead of time will make the process go more smoothly - thank you!

  • Prices may not be changed after submission, and there will be no negotiating prices at the sale.

Prior Works

  • Artists may bring 2 prior works for sale; above-listed size and framing requirements apply.

  • Prior Work paintings shall be submitted at the time of registration.

  • Paintings may be from past Bluff Strokes events or may be other examples of your work.

  • Paintings will be hung at the beginning of the week.

Main Event

Sunday, October 7 - Thursday, October 11

  • Each artist may submit three Main Event paintings for judging and three replacement paintings, which will not be judged but will be hung to replace sold paintings.

  • Of the 3 paintings submitted for judging, one may be from an interior location (bar, shop, library, anywhere you can get permission).

  • Replacement paintings must be painted on stamped canvases and may be from interior or exterior locations.

  • To facilitate getting paintings into inventory, Steeple Square will be open Wednesday, October 9, 4-5 pm for early check-in of paintings. Please bring in paintings that you know will you will be submitting either for judging or replacement.

  • Final Main Event submissions will be Friday, Oct 13, 8–10 am (scones and coffee will be provided). This is when you will designate which of your submissions will be hung to be judged. Your other submitted paintings will become your replacement paintings. You must attend at this time to ensure your paintings will be hung and judged.

  • One of your three Replacement paintings may be turned in by 12 pm on Friday, if you would like to paint Friday morning.

  • During the Friday evening and Saturday sales, as paintings are sold, you may replace sold paintings with inventoried replacement paintings.


Tuesday, October 9, painting starts at 5pm (Date and time may be changed due to weather)

  • Stamping will take place from 4:30 - 5 pm at Steeple Square.

  • You may do your Nocturne INSIDE if desired. Permission must be granted by establishment (not us) and safety and cleanliness should be a priority.

  • Submit stamped and framed artwork at Steeple Square between 8 - 8:30 am on Wednesday, October 12, to be considered for awards.

Quick Paint

Wednesday, October 10,  8:30 - 11:30am (Date and time may be changed due to weather)

  • Stamping for the Quick Paint will be Wednesday from 8:15 - 8:30 am at Steeple Square.

  • Submit stamped and framed artwork at Steeple Square by 11:30 am to be considered for awards.

Saturday Paintings

Saturday, October 12, 7 am - noon

  • Artists are encouraged to paint at the Dubuque Farmer's Market (near Steeple Square) or in any Downtown area, interior exterior, and bring their paintings to Steeple Square when finished. Works brought to Steeple Square will be inventoried and hung for sale. While these are not judged, this is a great way to advertise the sale at Steeple Square on Saturday. Some paintings sell right off the easel!


  • Bluff Strokes will retain a 25% commission on all painting sales.

  • Artist payments will be mailed to the address provided with your registration.

  • Prior to payment, artists must provide a W-9 form.

  • Off-Easel Sales – please respect the efforts of this all-volunteer event by writing a check for 25% for any off-easel purchases by Sunday, Oct 13th.


  • We will award approximately $10,000 in prizes. Top award will be a $2,000 purchase prize.

  • Complete awards list will be posted summer 2019.

Unsold painting retrieval

  • Unsold paintings may be picked up on Saturday, Oct 13, 7 pm–8 pm, and Sunday, Oct 14, 8 am-10 am. Any paintings left behind without instructions will become the property of Bluff Strokes and may be donated to the Dubuque Museum of Art to be auctioned off at their benefit.


  • The artist agrees to bear all risk and expense for any injury to his or her person, and for any loss, theft or damage to his or her artwork or other personal property. The artist agrees to be responsible for insuring his or her artwork and for all necessary shipping charges.


  • Limited housing (17 Rooms) is available at St. Columbkille's, a former convent. Single and Double rooms available (twin beds). Cost is $30/night/person, no matter if they are shared rooms or not. Linens (bed linens, towels, washcloths) are provided, but we recommend bringing an extra blanket. Soaps and shampoo are not provided. Please include a separate $60 check made out to "St. Columbkille's" as a deposit. Full kitchen and dining room common areas are available. Checks will be returned if rooms are booked.

  • Miller Riverview Park and Campground is a beautiful campground located on the Mississippi River within a few minutes of Steeple Square and downtown Dubuque. Information and registration here:

  • Other campgrounds in area attractive settings are Massey Marina south of Dubuque on the Mississippi, and Swiss Valley Nature Preserve in a wooded area southwest of Dubuque.

  • has many other options listed on their website.


For registration or housing questions, contact Morgan at (314) 680-3328 . 

For general questions, email or call Jillayne at (563) 587-9120 or Wes at 563-845-1801.

Download a printable version of the prospectus.