En plein air is the French expression for "in the open air." French impressionistic painters such as Monet, Pissarro and Renoir advocated plein air painting and much of their work was done outdoors in the diffuse light of a large white umbrella. Their desire to paint light and its ever changing qualities, coupled with the creation of transportable paint tubes and the box easel allowed artists the freedom to paint outdoors.
I have to admit I have only painted outside a few times since I began using watercolor over twenty years ago and it did not go well. But, as part of my 'mid-year art resolution' to expand my artistic horizons I have joined a Plein Air group that meets every Tuesday to paint outside here in beautiful east Tennessee.
I bought a box easel on sale and practiced setting it up so I would not make a fool of myself, loaded the car with the easel, my art bag, a chair, lunch box and tennis shoes. We all met at a beautiful spot called the Lily Barn with flowers, a covered bridge and a stream running through it. I set up my easel, used the drawer for my palette and water and started to paint.
It was a fun morning meeting other local artists and seeing how they approached painting outdoors. One other lady used watercolor and everyone else painted with oils. I really just did a few small paintings to get my feet wet so to speak and believe me they are not worth sharing. I think I need to sketch a little bit more first which is not really the way I normally paint but it felt great to step out of my comfort zone and I look forward to doing it again.
Have you ever painted outdoors?