Friday, February 22, 2008

Plein Air

I need to send out kudos again to another artist friend. Up until last month I was editor of the Manchester Artists Association newsletter. Artist Sue Whitaker stepped up to take over when I needed to step down. Her first newsletter came out this month and it is wonderful. Sue is a graphic designer and has pushed our humble newsletter to a new level.
Sue is a plein air painter, meaning that she goes on location and she paints what she sees. Plein air artists are generally known for their landscapes. They like communing with nature and trying to express what they feel while they are painting out in the open.

Perhaps I should call myself a plein air photographer. My artist statement reads that I generally enjoy finding my garden subjects through serendipity. I like trying to express the happiness I feel in the garden. Warm breezes, sunshine, rustling leaves, and dewy grass all wake up my senses. My photographs aim to make you feel like you are on the journey with me. I want it to seem as if you can reach out and touch the petals of my flowers. While it is fun to craft a still-life indoors, there is nothing like wandering out-of-doors to seek the perfect photographic subject to share my love of nature and flowers with others.

Plein air was popularized by the Impressionists. Look at a Monet and you can practically feel the Giverny sunshine playing across his waterlilies. According to American Impressionist William Merritt Chase, "I don't believe in making pencil sketches and then painting your landscape in your studio. You must be right under the sky." While some artists will complete their preliminary outdoor studies in the studio, others like Chase prefer to address the whole task of painting nature outside.

Out in the open you don't just see nature as your subject. You experience it. Experiencing allows you to add intense emotion to your art. If you don't really experience your subject, the communication of it is dull and lifeless. If some part of you doesn't feel deeply energized while you are creating a piece of art, it is not worth creating. If the natural world energizes you, the art work you do out in the open will communicate your enthusiasm.

1 comment:

Linda Richichi said...

Well said. Painting en plein air has taken my work to a whole new level. If I have to work in the studio (just too cold outside) then I can use my plein air studies to revisit that "moment" of being in the open air. These studies contain the energy I felt in nature. Keep up the great work.