Plein air painting is priority on my goal list while the weather is so nice. It has been so long since I’ve been able to paint outside. My previous studio was in one of our out buildings and then I could open the windows and doors. Presently, my studio is indoors, however, I have a table that can be set up outside.
Plein Air Painting: A Little History
Plein air painting became very popular because it gave artist’s unlimited space to explore, discover and step beyond limitations. No longer limited to the studio they could paint from reality.
Previous paintings done outdoors were usually small. Now an artist could go bigger or even take on a series of paintings. Working from early morning until late afternoon was common. They would alternate canvases as the light changed. Painting outdoors allowed the artist to paint true colors of their surroundings. For example, colorful gardens, majestic mountains, charming villages or blue oceans. Lights, shadows, shifting skies and weather conditions were constantly changing so it was crucial that work be done quickly.
Not to sound pessimistic but I’m sure there were other bothersome things. For one, people creeping up behind to watch and blocking the light in the process. Also, bugs flying into wet paint or sudden wind gusts blowing debris onto the canvas. I have unintentionally incorporated a mosquito into a painting so I know the feeling.
Paul Cezanne: A Little More History
In doing my research I became curious to learn more about some of the artists of this era. I found Paul Cezanne to be fascinating and felt the need to deviate a little and mention him. As a young artist he lacked confidence in his artistic abilities. He was content in working alone which I can totally identify with. It seems he was somewhat of a bohemian mystery man which I find even more intriguing. Apparently he had a brush with luck. Several other Impressionists, including Pissarro, who acknowledged his skills and gave him encouragement.
I believe that having encouragement, the tools of convenience and working alongside Pissarro gave him confidence. He was now able to share his talent more publicly. By taking that step his style changed. He became more passionate, his colors became brighter and his painting became more vibrant and more alive. I think the skull paintings have to be my favorite because they add to his mysteriousness. I ran across a quote after reading quite a bit about him and it fit perfectly. ‘The most seductive thing about art is the personality of the artist himself’ – Paul Cezanne
People, not just artists, from all over the world continue to enjoy the art of plein air painting. It appears to have become a movement itself. On a trip to Estes Park, Colorado I witnessed a scattered group of artists. Some sat under white umbrellas, at the base of Deer Mountain painting. I assumed they were painting the sunset since it was spectacular that day. They all seemed so ‘at peace’. I noticed frustration or discontent with what was being put on their canvases but only with ‘being’.
On a separate trip the Texas Hill Country I was fortunate to witness plein air painting again. This time, a father and son had set easels on a perfectly flat rock in middle of the Frio River. They were immersed in painting the large cypress trees, tall cliffs and flowing water. I am fortunate to live in Texas where there are so many beautiful scenes to paint.
For even more history of plein air painting I have included a link below. Happy ‘outdoor’ painting.