Why You Should Paint “Plien-Aire”

Plant your feet and go for it...

Ever wonder what the big deal was about painting on location  …[ Monet did it… and so did a lot of the impressionistic painters.].. or if it really was important to growing your artwork. Read this article and I think you will understand.       

    Painter’s who want to work on location  are said to be “open air” or “plien aire” artists. The term “plien-air” came into being from the French …it  means “in the open air”.
 The practice of painting outdoors or on location was first practiced by the great impressionistic artists…[see if you recognize any names..]. Nichlas Pousin and later Claude Monet.

   This was considered a revolutionary way to paint at that time… But then part of learning to be an artist or painter is the fact that artists  are always re inventing their methods and techniques ..they strive to find  new levels of accomplishment and skill.
       Historically “plien-aire” painting was used as a “means to the end. The small paintings  that were done on location were for study and were not considered finished paintings at all…
  Artists painting on location  would quickly try to  catch the essence of the light source and color in the scene before them.
   High detail and a photographic “look” is not the goal of an on location painting or “study”… it’s use is mainly  as a reference painting  that would later be taken back to the studio  as a springboard for a  a larger and more completed work of art . Most on location paintings are very loose and impressionistic…[first impression]
Popular again  today the use of “painting on location” or “plien-air” has had a huge re-emergence and is  almost a pre-requisite for getting into worthy and successful galleries that show and sell American and European landscapes.
 They have found out that the art is fresher and not as likely to be a copy of another artists work if the artist has a history of painting on location.
  The randomness of the natural world and the colors that the artists saw are just not  likely to be present in a another artists painting  -[even if it is of the same scene.]
  Just ask any professional artist how often the buyers of their artwork say to them…”Where did you paint this?”  The buyers know if that question can be honestly answered that the painting is truely an original by an artist who took the time and effort to search out “what” was going to be the inspiration for the artwork, and only then could they… the artist… honestly say “YES, I PAINTED THAT WHILE I WAS IN____? on a vacation etc…?  
     A few years back I had the honor to be chosen as the “Artist in Residence” at Hot Springs National Park. The award for winning this pretigious honor was that I was a guest of the park for one month and was provided a very nice studio/ cabin to live and work in, and  I was given free reign to paint anywhere in the park .
    My JOB was to paint “plien-aire” or on location in the park and  to talk to any interested visitors about what I was doing…[They were absolutely fascinated as they watched me paint.]
   I came away with so much much more than a wonderful opportunity to live and paint in the park. I had been handed the best ‘course of “study” I could have ever asked for… I was challenged by continously painting outdoors for 30 days…in different weather conditions… and under different   lighting .. depending on the time of day..The colors and shadows  were never the same .
   

Painting on location in Hot Springs National Park

I basically was “studying”  with the “Master” of all creation. Need I say more?
   I saw my work grow by leaps and bounds.There is just nothing like it if you are serious about your artistic  growth and “education”.
   I would encourage any painter to take your easel outside and give it a try. Or… you may want to check and see if there are any “plien-aire” painters groups  or workshops going on in your area. The challenges and the feeling of painting outdoors can not be achieved by any other method…you have to be outdoors to understand  ” how to paint ” scenes from outdoors… Go outside,  set you easel up, and let nature show you the way. What a Trip!

"The Stream " painted on location Hot Springs National Park

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