How’s Your Plein Air Vision?

Before Dusk (Central Park at 72nd Street) by Sam Adoquei, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 in.
Before Dusk (Central Park at 72nd Street) by Sam Adoquei,
oil on canvas, 24 x 30 in.

Somewhere out there, maybe even as you read this, a group of hungry, dedicated artists are taking a plein-air painting workshop. And at some point during this workshop—perhaps right at this very moment—one of those aspiring artists will ask the classic question voiced at least once in every workshop: How do I develop my personal style?

Well, if it’s Sam Adoquei’s plein-air painting class that he teaches every summer in Central Park, the answer may be somewhat surprising. I believe he’d reiterate what he writes in his latest book, Origin of Inspiration: Of the three essential qualities—skill, style, and vision—that serve as the backbone for successful artists, style is the only element an artist can do without, but luckily style comes without the artist making too much effort.

Wow, does that resonate with you? It does with me. I completely get what Sam is saying. I truly believe we do not need to worry about style—it will develop on its own. Much as your handwriting has a unique look that evolved over years of practice, your style (your personal way of using your materials) will naturally evolve as you spend years mastering skills (your ability to utilize the fundamentals of art).

It’s vision that poses the greater challenge. Vision is your reason to paint. Vision is your voice. Vision is your unique message to the world, expressed in plein-air painting. I’m still honing my personal vision. No longer content with merely capturing the beauty of nature when I am en plein air—not that there is anything wrong with that vision!—I know I want to convey a deeper message about my spiritual connection to nature and about my concerns and fears about the future of our environment. The fun and the challenge is figuring out how that vision will manifest itself through my plein-air painting.

Have you thought much about the vision behind the outdoor painting you do? I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’d like to share. Leave a comment and let me know.


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Plein Air Painting Blog
Jennifer King

About Jennifer King

Immersed in the art world is just where Jennifer King wants to be. Thanks to her long career in the art-instruction business--she was the editor of several leading artists' magazines--she has had incredible opportunities to meet and interview many of the finest living artists of our times, including Will Barnett, Clyde Aspevig, Scott Christensen, Sam Adoquei, Richard Schmid, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Ken Auster, Carla O’Connor, C.W. Mundy, Dan Gerhartz, Birgit O’Connor, Daniel Greene, and countless other generous artists who’ve shared their knowledge and insights. She is also honored to have edited several art-instruction books with such noted artists as Tom Lynch, Dan McCaw, Ramon Kelley, Wende Caporale, Carlton Plummer, and more.

Inspired by their passion for art, Jennifer returned to her own love of painting about 15 years ago, studying with figurative painter Tina Tammaro. Through this experience, she discovered her love of landscape painting, which for her, acts as a visual metaphor for human emotion. Constable, Corot, Pissarro, Inness, and Diebenkorn are among her artistic heroes. Other creative pursuits include photography and jewelry-making, and she’s also continuously studying art history and theory.

Jennifer paints primarily outdoors, but also in her home studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. She also continues to serve as a lecturer and competition juror for various art organizations across the country, and she is a member of the Women’s Art Club of Cincinnati. Jennifer is currently represented by the Greenwich House Gallery in O’Bryonville, a suburb of Cincinnati. As a confirmed landscape artist, her future goal is to use her experience in the art world to raise awareness for the need to protect our environment.

4 thoughts on “How’s Your Plein Air Vision?

  1. Jennifer,
    This is an interesting post. I agree that artists should not deliberately try to develop a style. It can look “forced” if someone tries too hard to be unique. We are all already unique because we are individuals with our own unique set of experiences and abilities which, in turn, affects our painting. Musicians often say that style is defined by what you cannot do. In other words, go with your strength and develop it. Style will come naturally if you do that. Paint your unique vision and style will result. Mark Beale,

  2. When I began painting in oils, I had a style all of my the last 10 years I’ve been painting in acrylics and my style has seemed to paintings are mainly from memory but sometimes I depend on photographs.plein Aire is new to me- is it from memory? I’ve had many classes, ranging from sumie to One stroke .allof them have helped me to develope my style.

  3. I think that those few hours you’ll be taking to paint that what have captured your attention are very special moments in your painting career as it is in that very short time which makes you push your utmost to create that vision which fired your imagination. You want to lock in your memory that particular frame and you try to convey what you felt to an audience.