Student Artists to Experience Plein Air Painting at Willow Fork Park

What: Katy ISD art students to participate in “plein air” painting, the practice of painting outdoors surrounded by nature that was first applied by 19th-century impressionist painters, while offering Willow Fork Park visitors an opportunity to view live painting.

Who: Willow Fork Drainage District (WFDD) board and Friends of Willow Fork Park will be available to discuss the park and district activities, and student painters and Mitzi Jones, Assistant Director of Fine Arts for Katy ISD, will share about participating in the Katy area’s first plein air art event.

When: Saturday, October 20 – 8 a.m. set-up, 9-11 a.m. painting, 11-12 p.m. exhibition and awards (Rain Date – Saturday, October 27)

Where: Willow Fork Park, located at the northwest corner of TX-99/Grand Parkway and Cinco Ranch Blvd., north of Cinco Ranch High School.

“Plein air painting is remarkable to watch—to see a painting come to life before your eyes in the midst of nature is both peaceful and beautiful,” said Neil Stillman, a WFDD resident who has spent the last seven summers in Grand Teton as a park ranger and founded Friends of Willow Fork Park, an association of friends and neighbors dedicated to providing free, family-friendly, nature-based programs for the community at Willow Fork Park.

“I wanted to bring some of what people experience in a national park to our community, activities that bring people together with nature,” said Stillman.

Approximately 25 students from seven Katy high schools are participating in the event, which will feature two hours of painting for visitors to observe followed by an exhibition and judging by renown artists from the Outdoor Painters Society. Plein air painting can be especially challenging and includes thought on the type of paint to use outdoors, distraction from outdoor sounds, onlookers, and environmental conditions such as weather. Katy ISD offered teacher and student workshops on plein air painting as part of a curriculum unit and to prepare for the event.

“This type of event, one that encourages outdoor activity and brings our community together, is what we envisioned for Willow Fork Park when it opened two years ago,” said Richard Ward, president of WFDD’s board.

Follow Friends of Willow Fork Park at for upcoming activities or email [email protected] to get involved.


Established in 1985, Willow Fork Drainage District (WFDD) constructs, maintains and operates drainage and recreational facilities to preserve and enhance the communities within its boundaries. Located approximately 25 miles west of the central business district of Houston and 2.5 miles south of the intersection of I-10 and Mason Road, its operations span 5,700 acres, including 15 miles of drainage channels, three community parks, and nearly 50 miles of trails.

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