Join us for Plein Air Painting! - "What the heck is that?" you ask.
By Brian Sutton
Trust me, I didn't know either. Well, in the strictly academic sense I understood that plein air painting (which simply means painting outdoors) was a thing and a lot of people do it.
What I didn't know is how much I would enjoy it! In fact I really don't want to do anything else in the craft of painting except plein air work (It's not quite goodbye to Bob Ross or studio painting. I have to pay the bills, after all).
Here's how it began: My boss Karen Saunders sent me on a business trip to New Mexico for the the 2022 Plein Air Convention and Expo, hosted by Plein Air Magazine publisher Eric Rhoads and his team. I went kicking and screaming because I love being a studio artist. My experience at the convention, however, transformed me into a plein air wannabe. Five days in the desert of Santa Fe listening to incredible lectures from 60 of the best artists alive today encouraged me to get outside and try something I had never considered doing! It was a blast and the experience was so wonderful and engaging that the boss and I have both already signed up for the 2023 convention set for next May in Denver. I invite you to join us. (Click the button below for convention info. No, I do not get a commission. I just really think you will love it and the money is totally worth it).
So, enough of the backstory. Here's where you come in: Many of you have been doing various workshops and individual classes with us (Bob Ross paintings, florals, landscapes, etc.) If you have been painting with us long enough, you know that we try to offer something completely new and unusual - something really unique that no other business in the area offers you - every year or two. We do some major pivot to keep things fun for both you and us. This year we are offering plein air painting outings as our next major advancement in your art hobby. Best of all there are no difficult Bob Ross techniques (We love Bob, but let's be honest, his techniques are NOT easy). Well, maybe best of all is that there is no class fee, but the whole easier-than-bob techniques will make you happy. Plein air painting is also much looser in style, much more impressionistic, so it is much more forgiving than traditional studio work. See the examples below for excellently executed paintings in this style from Artist Karen Saunders
Granted, Karen is highly skilled and is a wiz at color mixing so she tackles difficult subjects. You might try plein air and start off a bit easier, perhaps with a basket of flowers like I did.
See how loose and simple my basket is? But even with no detail you still get the nice color pop and you understand that there is a basket of pretty flowers hanging from that lamp post. At least I hope you do or I didn't do it right! lol There is much less pressure for your painting to be "just right," you can relax and just give a hint of a flower, for instance. Your viewer will understand what information you are trying to convey.
So for those of you who really aren't nailing the Bob Ross classes, keep in mind, as I often tell you in class, that more traditional techniques yield far better results, even for the beginner. Plein air painting is taking a lot of those techniques and doing them outdoors. So is Plein Air easy? Well, no, but it is an enormous amount of fun being in the outdoors painting with friends. Friends can give you advice, laugh with you, share your painting pain, and rejoice at the small successes that happen with each painting you complete. Friends, come and paint with us in the local parks and anywhere else we can find a great scene. You'll need some gear to paint outdoors, and my next blog will cover what you need to paint with us. Don't worry, we can get it for you cheaper than other retail spots, so stick with us. I'll have links and pricing with photos in the next blog to get you started and we'll announce our first painting outing and some preparatory classes where Karen and I can teach you some of the basics of plein air. I hope you will join us as we embark on one of two new directions for our business. More on the other direction we are going in a future blog! In the meantime, be sure to read my next blog on the gear you need. You'll want to preorder it so you'll have it on hand when we start the free outings.
For more detailed info on what plein air is, check out this article from Outdoor Painter/Plein Air Magazine: