En Plein Air: Favorite Places to Paint?

7 May 2009

One of my favorite places on earth is Point Lobos, California. It was where I covered my first workshop for the magazine four years ago and where I painted for the first time. I remember standing there awe-struck, attempting to paint what I saw, for probably seven hours straight without even noticing that time was passing or that I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything all day. As the sun was setting, they had to drag me away from my easel.

Photo: Tom O'Neal Photography, Carmel Valley, California (www.tgophoto.com)

Point Lobos--with its majestic panoramic vistas, pure light, and native cypress trees and rocky outcroppings spilling into the sea--seems to have that effect on painters . I had heard before I went on the trip that Point Lobos has been deemed “the most beautiful meeting of land and sea in the world,” and after spending the day there I could easily see why.

All artists have at least one magical place where, no matter what is going on in their day or their life, they can go and just concentrate on the beauty of nature and be rejuvenated by their surroundings. I’d be interested to hear where your secret corner of the great outdoors is and what it is about that place that keeps drawing you back as a plein air painter. Thank you for sharing!

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on 8 May 2009 3:43 AM

Oooh!  Tucson Arizona: Sabino Canyon, Tucson Mountain Park, Catalina State Park, Saguaro National Monumnet - best painting in February and March. April - desert blooms.

Maine: Acadia NP: Little Long Pond, Sand Beach, Otter Cliffs, Duck Pond, Jordan Pond. So many views and different kinds of scenes within a few minutes of each other. Lots of great restaurants too!

on 8 May 2009 11:32 AM

One of  my favorite places to paint is the New Jersey Meadowlands. I only just discovered this "New Jersey best keep secret", when I  visited the the Meadowlands Commission's Flyway Gallery to see an art show. As I approached the the Measowlands Environmental Center---where the Flyway Gallery is located, I was amazed by the landscape. The  marshes, wildlife,and the beautiful lanscaped trails. I could'nt  wait to paint there. Since that first visit I've gone back many times,at  different times of the day, always trying to capture the beauty of the Meadowlands.

Have a good day

David Buckbinder

on 11 May 2009 8:43 PM

Like David one of my favourite places to paint is in NJ however it's in the NJ Highlands.  There are lots of wonderful places to paint throughout the world but there is nothing more fulfilling than painting the woods and mountainous ridgelines that I have come to cherish and love so dearly.

on 12 May 2009 1:20 PM

Lori, good suggestions. Acadia National Park in Maine is amazing. David and Diana, thanks for alerting me to the New Jersey HIghlands--when I first read that you painted in the area around the Meadowlands, I was surprised because that area seems so industrial to me, but I will have to take a closer look and see what you're talking about. Thanks!

on 14 May 2009 7:00 AM

Sangre de Christo and Jemez mountains in Santa Fe New Mexico - Red Rock Crossing in Sedona Arizona, Pemiquid Point in S. Bristol Maine, the High Road to Taos New Mexico and of course Ghost Ranch.

on 14 May 2009 7:10 AM

Without a doubt it's Pasadena's Arroyo Seco. It's only 10 minutes or so from my house and presents entirely different views and moods with the seasons, from the freshness of spring grasses to the gold of the sycamores in autumn. I never tire of painting there, and not surprisingly it was a favorite of the early California impressionists, too. When I paint there I feel as though I'm continuing a long tradition.

DRW wrote
on 14 May 2009 7:21 AM

HAWAII. Since visiting with friends about twenty years ago, Hawaii has held a special place in my heart. The people, the scenery, and of course the weather, are beautiful. I became serious about painting a few years ago and have made three trips there by myself just to paint. I especially enjoy Maui for the views of other islands.

corgies wrote
on 14 May 2009 7:23 AM

Hands down for me are the great plains, in particular South Dakota. The expansiveness takes my breath away.

on 14 May 2009 8:12 AM

Sanibel Island on Florida's West coast. The calm unspoiled tropical beauty of the Florida Gulf coast has been carefully preserved in Sanibel and neighboring Captiva Island and still looks today as it did many years ago. It's truly an artist's paradise.

NJ ART wrote
on 14 May 2009 8:23 PM

One of my favorite places to paint and draw is a small park in Livingston NJ. There I can draw the woods and since this park is located off a suburban neighborhood it connects me back to where I grew up. I find that there are many spots in New Jersey that can inspire me to create. Another favorite place  is Vermont -although I have not been there for many years I can still remember the light on that landscape.

austin0500 wrote
on 14 May 2009 8:41 PM

Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris,  France

Throughout history painters have found Paris to be an irresistible attraction.  It presents a phenomenal depth of visual and cultural stimulation.  Embedded in its urbane fabric are layer upon layers of refined art and architectural details laid down over a millennium.  The result is a panorama of intense visual content to challenge one's powers of perception.

These large formal gardens & park are behind the Luxembourg Palace,  is a wonderful place to paint, particularly on a hot day under the abundant tree cover.  Statues abound, and the wild bronze statue “Son of Bacchus” presents an extraordinary figure drawing pose.  The Medici Fountain has the bronze statue of the Cyclops Polyphemus eyeing Acis & Galatea in white marble (watch out for the pigeons in trees above you).  There is a good view of the Panthéon through the Gardens, as well as the rear façade of the Palace.

Chairs are provided throughout, but you are not allowed on the grass.   Regular concerts are held in the band pavilion.  Everyone here enjoys the people watching.  You could spend your life painting here.

on 15 May 2009 2:22 AM

Hi James,

Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out over the next few weeks....very elegant description!  I love any formal garden with flair!

So far as my favorite place to DRAW.....it is the Palouse....every native Washington and Idaho resident knows the pull of The Palouse! Especially the views from Steptoe Butte!

MargieG5 wrote
on 15 May 2009 3:57 AM

The waters of Lake Michigan are most interesting to me.  The colors are surprising!  I had never seen such amazing colors (having grown up in Iowa).  Going down to the lakeshore to paint is not only refreshing (thanks to the breezes) but a constant challenge to capture the moods and constant movement.

on 1 Jun 2009 9:24 AM

These are all great suggestions. And I like how they're a little off the beaten path and not the typical locations we here of repeatedly. I'm adding all of these to my list!

chucklaw2 wrote
on 22 Jun 2009 7:04 PM

I'm with the New Jersey Painters. Last Year I did a seriese of paintings of the sunise over the wetlands, the distant Atlantic City skyline added even more interest to the beauty of nature here at the Jersey Shore. It's been a soggy wet spring this year, but my easel is ready and I plan on doing more from the same spot. Ther's no feeling in the world like being there with the skimmers, seagulls and marsh hens as the sun comes over the horizon. And Wow... you really have to paint fast!

on 23 Aug 2009 9:36 AM

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