Plein Air Essence

14 Aug 2012

We enjoyed the recent plein air blog of artist Marion Boddy-Evans and agree with her sentiments. We have been outdoor painting for over forty years each (before the "plein air" phrase became ubiquitous) and have always felt that the value in painting outside on location was the total immersion in the landscape. That immersion engages all the senses and allows the artist to experience the moment and place, its smell and sound as well as its beauty. How an artist chooses to render all this is his or her unique choice.

Sometimes the simplest gear is the best way to capture the essence of nature in a plein air painting.
Sometimes the simplest gear is the best way to capture
the essence of nature in a plein air painting.
The new array of pochade boxes, backpacking easels, lightweight tripods and other equipment available to facilitate painting outside can enhance the experience by providing an almost fully equipped mini-studio on site. A plein air easel? We own 3 or 4 different plein air easels, tripods, umbrellas, etc., and find them very useful at times. The plein air workshops being offered by outstanding artists both here and abroad can teach tips and techniques that cut time off the learning curve for painting outdoors and provide invaluable networking and bonding between like-minded creative people.

But the core of creating art comes from an interior stillness, and landscape painters must drink in the experience before it can be translated onto paper, board or canvas through the filter of that interior stillness. Often, the rush to set up gear and get working can interfere with the process of contemplation which is so necessary to understanding the subject. Sometimes the best way is to venture out alone with a minimum of materials and wander the landscape, using the sketchbook and our ultra-portable watercolor kits. There is so much to learn and there are so many tools available to help us, but it seems of utmost importance not to lose that quiet voice inside. Don't you think? Where do you go to let that quiet focus for art come to you? Leave a comment and let us know!

For more articles about art and the artist's life, please visit us at The Artist's Road.

--John and Ann

 


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Comments

simura_sadi wrote
on 14 Aug 2012 12:12 PM

On the occasions I have taken the train to a rural stop and gone out with a sketchbook and box of watercolours, I have been rewarded with a feeling of calm and a vividness to my art. I've realised that when I don't do this, and paint at home using my imagination as a reference, I tend to end up with fairly homogeneous scenes of identical-looking mountains and trees. Nothing beats getting out there and enjoying the real thing, sketching what is really there and being immersed in the landscape. This is something I certainly need to do more often.

KatPaints wrote
on 16 Aug 2012 5:55 PM

Simura brings up a good point. Nature is the best reference. I get a better sense of color and form from actual life. Yet, if my back hurts, mosquitoes are biting... this shows up in my work. When I paint indoors - a still life, etc., my work is definitely superior. I think a balance is needed, but sometimes, I wish I could stop the sun.

chris greene wrote
on 18 Aug 2012 10:04 AM

   as an  artist I'm always looking for opportunities to tune into that quiet space  for inspiration. I always take my digital camera with me when visiting a new location and something will catch my eye or touch me emotionally.  I'll enlarge these photos to 8x10 and keep them in a reference file.  Evan though I didn't have a chance to actually sketch or paint it on the spot, the memory of it will help me to get in touch with the experience and time of the place or event. I will do a sketch from the photos in my studio.

   Chris

terri kent wrote
on 18 Aug 2012 4:20 PM

I usually catch myself heading for the creeks or downtown on the banks  of the Ohio River. just the peacefulness of being near water,and I'msketching anything and everything.that's caught my attention. Well sorry,but just talking about it  makesme want to head outside.I'llgrab mybag a snack,drink and bug spray and I'M ON MY WAY  BYE!!!                  Terri

terri kent wrote
on 18 Aug 2012 4:20 PM

I usually catch myself heading for the creeks or downtown on the banks  of the Ohio River. just the peacefulness of being near water,and I'msketching anything and everything.that's caught my attention. Well sorry,but just talking about it  makesme want to head outside.I'llgrab mybag a snack,drink and bug spray and I'M ON MY WAY  BYE!!!                  Terri

on 22 Aug 2012 7:40 AM

A few miles up the road there's a bit of rocky shoreline where I love to sit. Sometimes I stare out to sea, sometimes I'm mesmerized by the patterns in the rocks. Occasionally it's been stormy weather and then it's the waves crashing onto the shore. Often I never get my sketchbook out, but just watch.