Real Men Paint En Plein Air

by Allison Malafronte

Nothing proves a plein air painter’s prowess like surviving a hard-core painting session battling the elements of nature. The young, talented California artists Jeremy Lipking and Tony Pro learned this the hard and—as you will see from the video below—hilarious way when they set out to record an instructional plein air-painting session that instead turned into a showdown with a seriously perturbed Mother Nature.

As any plein air painter knows, when you strap your wooden box to your back and head outdoors you never know what you will encounter. Most of the time the weather is pleasant, the vistas are inspiring, and the distractions are few. But every now and again lightning strikes—as it literally did right in front of Tony Pro in this video—and you learn to just have a laugh. “We started out with every intention of making a serious instructional plein air video, but when the lightening struck practically a foot away from me, it was pure comedy after that,” says Pro, who along with Lipking taped, edited, and produced the video.

You have to admire Pro’s and Lipking’s steadfastness in the midst of such unusual circumstances. Lesser plein air painters would have dropped their alizarin crimson and headed for the hills at the first sign of sprinkles, but these guys took it like men and waited until they were covered with mosquitoes and hit several times on the head with hail before bailing. “What you don’t get to see in the video is when we’re running for our lives to catch the water taxi back in the middle of this deluge of hail and lightning,” Pro says. “I was pretty sure we were dead men.”

Luckily for us, the painters and their video survived, and now we can all enjoy their documentary that proves disasters en plein air happen to the best of us! Here’s the video:


Pro and Lipking will be filming Part II of this segment in the Sierras this weekend and will have the new video posted to their pages on shortly. On a more serious note, Lipking also made a video of a plein air-painting excursion that he and several of his artist-friends made to Maine this past September, which is also on his page. The video is beautifully shot and edited and shows the artists capturing an amazing sunset off of Port Clyde, Maine. (Lipking will be adding interviews with the artists to the videos shortly.) An exhibition associated with the Maine trip titled “Paintapalooza” will be held at the Addison Art Gallery, in Orleans, Massachusetts, in February, and will feature the following artists: Jeffrey Bonasia, Glenn Dean, Frank Gardner, Jerome Greene, Logan Hagege, Peter Kalill, Jeremy Lipking, Eric Merrell, Ernesto Nemesio, Colin Page, Paul Schulenburg, and Lance Walker.

Related Posts:


Plein Air Painting Blog
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. 

8 thoughts on “Real Men Paint En Plein Air

  1. I have had the pleasure of painting along side of Jeremy and Tony on several occasions, and even going out to dinner with them when painting was finished for the day.

    They are both delightfully human and thoughtful. This video is so true to life. Thanks for putting your lives on the lines to give us a few laughs and ultimately beautiful artwork.

  2. Wonderful. I was driving near to the top of the world outside RedLodge Wyoming/Montana when I told my wife I want to stop and do some watercolor sketching and no sooner had I sat down on some rocks by the car, I was attacked by the most awful – biting, small black flies. It drove me insane. No bad weather though.

    Thanks for showing us that painting en plein air is an adventure not to be missed, up there with other outdoor activities like mountain climbing etc.
    I’m curious where these fellows were, as it looks very familiar, maybe the Desolation Wilderness? The mosquitoes were definitely Alaska-sized, however!

  4. That’s the best belly laughing I’ve done in many years!!!! Since Lipking is my current most admired artist – it made him more real to me and inspired me to just keep trying. Sorry – I am not familiar with Pro’s work – yet but I love what I saw of it!!!

    Please keep doing these videos, guys.

    I’ve experienced gnats, mosquitos, scorching, sun, rain, high winds, and,the most difficult for me to deal with here on Kauai, tourists, while painting. My determination has always paid off, if only for the sweet and incomparable adventure of it all.

    Thanks so much for showing us this video. I also appreciate all the comments and feel that I may haave found my “tribe”. How priceless is that/! Now I’m inspired to drive my broken down car to the place where my current plein air work-in-progress has been evolving and finish it.