Plein Air is derived from the French phrase “en plein air” which means in the open air. So plein air painting would mean painting outside. Many artists paint strictly in their studio, other artists like to experience the essence of the area they are painting.
When I first started painting years ago, I remember taking a stool, my paints, and other supplies to Tomball, Texas. I sat out in the heat and did a painting of an old train depot. I found that painting on location was quite a challenge but it was also rewarding. Plein air artists have to deal with weather conditions, insects, dirt, and changing light conditions.
Last year while I still lived on the Big Island, I decided I wanted to try plein painting again. I bought a nice easel, gathered everything I needed and hiked to Honamolino Beach. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I was the only one on the beach. I found a shady spot under a coconut tree and set up my supplies. I sketched the beach and trees in the distance. I tried to not get bogged down by detail. It was a wonderful day.
I ate my lunch and went for a swim in the warm water when I needed a break. I really enjoyed myself. I had to learn to not expect the control I have in the studio. I had to loosen up a bit. My painting did not end up being anything to write home about, but I finished my painting in a matter of a few hours. That was good for me because sometimes I spend days on one painting in the studio.
If you want more information about plein air painting, there are art organizations dedicated to painting outdoors. There are also sites on the internet where you can get ideas for the painting equipment you might need, how to best carry your supplies, and how to set up.
If you want to give plein air painting a try, I know of a workshop you might want to attend. Russell Cushman is having a plein air workshop this month on a ranch near Bay City, Texas. Russell is a plein air painter and a friend of mine. I interviewed Russell in two articles for My Creativity Blog last May. Click here to read that interview.
Russell sent me an email the other day announcing the workshop. It will be held on the 1500 acre Tommy LeTulle Ranch. The LeTulle Ranch is a wildlife preserve and is on the Colorado River in Matagorda County. Russell will be down in that area judging the Spring Open Art Show at the Matagorda County Museum.
Classes will be held outdoors on the scenic ranch where there are ancient live oaks, wildlife, and cattle. Students will be able to enjoy coastal breezes, seafood, opportunity for photography, painting and shop talk.
Artists are offered food and lodging, two different painting classes, a photography worksop, lectures on survival, loads of encouragement and networking for $80.00. Sounds like a great value! There will be picnics, field trips, and an optional class in Palacios on seascapes (add $58.00)
Here is the schedule:
Saturday March 27:
9:30 – 1:00 – Intro to Outdoor Painting, DU Texas waterfowl landscape. $25
1:00 – 2:00 – Picnic lunch provided + 30 minutes free time. $8
2:30 – 5:15 – Outdoor Painting workshop with emphasis on Texas Trees. $25
5:15 – 6:15 – Free time to photograph ranch.
6:30 – Seafood in Palacios
8:00 Technology Show and Tell.
Lodging at the ranch bunkhouses is offered to those attending next day for free! Can’t beat that.
Sunday March 28:
8:00 – 9:30 Bunkhouse breakfast. $8
10:00 – 12:00 – Photography Seminar: Tricks with your digital camera, Photoshop. $15
(Students may opt to paint without instruction at this time.)
The workshop ends after the Photography Seminar. Russell judges the Spring Open Art Show Sunday afternoon.
Monday March 29:
10:00 – 1:00 – Optional Outdoor Painting workshop in Palacios, Texas – Texas Coast. $25
1:30 – 2:30 Picnic Lunch in Palacios. $8
2:30 – 5:30 Outdoor Painting – The Waterfront. $25
If you are interested, give Russell a call to reserve a spot. Russell’s numbers are (936)825-8223 or (936)825-8923. Or you can email Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may attend all or part of these workshops.
To learn more about Russell, go to his website: http://www.russellcushman.com.
I wish I could go, but that would be a really long trip for me since I am in Oregon. I would love to hear from those of you that go. Have fun!