Mar 22, 2011
By Sue Hulen
Plein Air painting is simply painting outdoors in natural sunlight. This technique became popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and is gaining speed in popularity today.
Before tubed paints came to be the artists had to use powdered pigments and mix them with linseed oil and it was just too involved to use them outside. With the invention of tubed paints it gave the artists more freedom to paint outside without all of the problems carrying around the supplies needed for mixing their paints.
Boxed easels were another wonderful convenience for Plein Air artists. They could put their art supplies in the box and carry them with them. Not having to carry extra baggage (so to speak) was quite a luxury never before enjoyed.
There are Plein Air groups and societies all over the world. Chicago has a Plein Air group. What a lovely place to paint architecture outside. Colorado is another beautiful place for their Plein Air artists to paint. The mountains are spectacular.
It’s almost poetic to see the ladies painting Plein Air with their hats on to block the sun from getting in their eyes as they paint. The men also will wear hats or baseball caps. Many take packed lunches with them so they can stay longer while they have the sunlight.
No matter where you live there are beautiful things to paint. Some may enjoy painting rivers, streams, oceans or brooks. For some fields of wild flowers, wheat, farmland or meadows are their preference. Florals and trees are always beautiful subjects as well as are birds and butterflies.
I've not yet experienced Plein Air, but maybe one day. For those with easels maybe this will be your year to get outside and paint in the natural sunlight. It sounds delicious.
My husband and I have recently moved further out of the City. The home we have now has a little bit of property. All around the house are lilies, peonies, wild violas, iris and other plants and bushes. We also have a couple of quince bushes, apple tree, grapes, walnut tree and lilac bushes. They’ve not yet bloomed, but we have leaves shooting up and popping out all over.
The reason I've mentioned what we have in the way of flowers etc. Is because I would love to start sketching some of them and then paint them. Sketching is not something I’m good at, but would love to be able to do. My lack of experience in sketching is pretty obvious.
It would be so relaxing to just sit outside and sketch. To feel the sun and the breeze and smell the fresh spring air would be such a treat. After being inside all winter it’s like a gift to now have such lovely weather and to see the beauty of nature all around me.
Yes, I believe I’m going to teach myself how to sketch this natural beauty. We have lots of birds to sketch as well and more will migrate for the warmer months. Ahhhhh. Spring at last. Spring is such a beautiful season. Everything is new again. Like new beginnings.
Enjoy the warmer weather and all the beauty nature has to offer. Whether painting Plein Air or sketching, enjoy yourself and create some beauty for others to share and appreciate. Once they are gone for the season, they’re gone and they won’t be back again for another year.
Keep painting and keep creating. And just as importantly….keep sharing what you’ve created.