Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Plein Air Painting - A Respite From The City

This weekend I selected a sunny spot down a dirt road in Midway, Utah and decided to set up my easel for plein air painting (French for painting "outside")

Each year the Midway Art Association holds a week-long festival that has several plein air competitions and events.  I participated in two of them.

My first event was held on Monday morning. I checked in at the Midway Town Hall at 8:30 am and began searching for a spot that "spoke to me." My instructions were to stay within Midway town limits, complete my painting (including having it framed), and have my finished work hanging in the exhibit at the Town Hall by 12:00 noon.

Midway Town Hall

So, back to my sunny spot off the dirt road...

Part of the plein air experience for me was the smell and sound of my surroundings. The perfume of flowers filled the air. Bees were humming, birds were singing and it was a pleasant 75 degrees. The hazy air bathed the distant hills with soft pastel colors. In the nearby fields, the grass and trees still wore touches of bright Spring green while the deeper greens of summer peeked through.   

"Pathway To Summer," 8 x 10 oil on panel, completed with a combination knife/brush.

Wednesday's event found me painting securely beneath a tree at the "Cafe Galleria" across the street from the Midway Town Hall. I listened to the conversations of the patrons as they carved their way through waffles and sipped their coffee. It's funny how far sound travels when there is no traffic and big city noise...

A beautiful woman and her companion sat down at the exact table that was the focus in my painting. I could hear her French accent and I bravely entered the conversation by uttering a few words in French.  She smiled and responded. She told me she was a "cheese maker" in Midway and that she used to live in Colorado where she owned a herd of goats. Wow. That's the kind of story that brings a painting to life!

 "Morning Cup," 10 x 10 oil on canvas

Plein Air painting is different from studio painting, but once you get the hang of it, you are hooked! If you like the great outdoors and you like the challenge of having to complete a painting (warts and all) in a short time, then you might like outdoor painting.  Get yourself a good teacher, some willing art companions (misery loves company) and bring along plenty of snacks!
Here's a link to two upcoming plein air events that would be great for beginners. Why not attend a workshop to see if plein air painting is a good match for you!

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