Bluff Strokes Mississippi River Art Workshops Paint Dubuque

Main Event Prospectus 2018

Sunday, Oct 7 – Saturday, Oct 13, 2018

Welcome to our third annual Bluff Strokes Plein Air Paint Out in historic Dubuque, Iowa. 

Bluff Strokes is an affiliate of the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society.


  • In the spirit of plein air, 95% of each artwork must be created on site.  
  • Painting Boundaries:  Dubuque County.
  • Competition Painting Times:  Sunday, Oct 7 – Thursday, Oct 11, 2018.  See also guidelines for Fresh Produce and Replacement paintings below.
  • One Main Event painting submitted for judging may be from an INSIDE location (to allow for poor weather).  All other paintings shall be painted outside. 

 Prior Works

  • Artists may bring 2 prior works for sale.  Please submit these at the time of registration.  These may be from past Bluff Strokes events or may be other examples of your work.

Fresh Produce Paintings

  • Fresh Produce from the Farmer's Market:  Saturday, Oct 13 (7am-noon) - Artists are encouraged to paint at the Farmer's Market and bring their paintings to Steeple Square when finished.  While these are not judged, it's a great way to advertise the sale at Steeple Square on Saturday.  Some paintings sell right off the easel!

Replacement Paintings

  • We are trying something new this year because we sold SO MANY paintings last year; we nearly ran out of replacements on Friday night!  We will need to check in more of the paintings DURING THE WEEK so we can get them in the inventory and YOU can get PAID!
  • Steeple Square will be open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4-5pm to accept paintings for check in, up to six paintings total!, not including Nocturne and Quick Paint.
  • Replacements may be from INSIDE a location (bars, shops, library, anywhere you get permission).  
  • More paintings may be hung if possible and space allows.  Bring in your extra paintings for Saturday's Sale - we may be able to get them up after we get them into inventory.
  • When a painting is sold, the replacement painting will be hung in its place, as space allows.
  • All initial submission requirements apply.
  • Spots will be filled in order of receipt of registrations sheets with checks.  We will reserve spots until Feb 28 for 2017 award winners. 
  • Entry Fee: $50 fee if postmarked by Sept 1 ($60 fee after Sept 1) entitles artist to participate in all events (Main, Quick Paint and Nocturne).  This will also cover an artist apron, an artist picnic, and dinner/drinks at the Patron Party, Friday, Oct 12.
  • Fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

Check-in and Material Stamping

  • Check-in: Sunday, Oct 7, 8 am – 4 pm, at Steeple Square (15th & White St); anyone who cannot make it during this timeframe, please contact Morgan at to make arrangements.
  • Check-in will also be available at River Lights Bookstore (1098 Main St) on Monday from 10am-6pm.  Extra materials may also be stamped there during the week.
  • Event headquarters: Steeple Square, 15th St and White St, Dubuque, IA 52001.
  • Painting materials MUST be stamped prior to starting to paint.
  • Artists will be given promo cards to hand out to viewers that advertise the Patron Sale on Friday and the Public Art Sale on Saturday.  YOU are our best advertising!

Materials & Sizes

  • Media may include: oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, and gouache.
  • Each work may have dimensions up to 320 sq inches (ex. 16"x20") of canvas, paper, or board unframed.  
  • All work must be framed.  Maximum frame width:  4 1/4 inches. Maximum mat width:  4 inches (watercolors and pastels, if desired).


  • All submission of paintings will take place at Steeple Square, 15th and White Streets.
  • Each artist may submit three Main Event paintings for judging, three replacement paintings, one Nocturne Painting, and one Quick Paint painting.
  • You may submit up to six Main Event and replacement paintings Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 4-5pm.  
  • Final Main Event submissions will be Friday, Oct 13, 8am – 10am (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.
  • One of your six Replacement paintings may be turned in by 12pm on Friday, if you would like to paint Friday morning. 
  • Nocturne submission of one painting will be Wednesday morning 8-8:30am.  See Nocturne tab for details.
  • Quick Paint submission of one painting will be Wednesday morning at 11:30am at Steeple Square.  See Quick Paint tab for details.
  • Each painting must be signed, framed, mounted, and securely wired for hanging.  Please no alligator hangers.
  • Check-in stamp must be visible on the back of each painting.
  • Artists will fill out a card at submission (also included in Artist Packet) with artist’s name, city and state, title of artwork, medium, and retail price.  Prices may not be changed after submission.  Filling these out ahead of time will make the process go more smoothly - thank you!


  • Bluff Strokes will retain a 25% commission on all painting sales.
  • Artist payments will be mailed to the address provided.
  • 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 14th.  


  • Friday, Oct 12 - Winners will be announced at 5pm.
  • Our Juror is Nancie King Mertz from Chicago, IL, PSA-MP, CPP-MP, IAPS-Master Circle.


  • We will award approximately $10,000 in prizes.   Best of Show Purchase Award: $2,000.  Other awards will be announced prior to the event.

Painting Pick Up

  • Unsold paintings may be picked up on Saturday, Oct 13, 7pm–8pm, and Sunday, Oct 14, 8am-10am.  If you are not available to pick up the paintings, please provide pre-paid mailing boxes with the address clearly marked and we will mail them to you.  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.  Bed linens (pillows and sheets and blankets) are provided, but we recommend bringing an extra blanket.  Personal linens (wash cloths, towels, 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. 
  • Limited dorm rooms may be available at Clarke University for $20/bed/night/person.  Linens (pillows, blankets, sheets, towels, etc) are NOT provided.  We will provide an update when availability is determined.
  • 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:
  • has many other options listed on their website.


  • For registration questions, contact Morgan at  For general questions, you may contact Jillayne at