So what exactly is Plein Air Painting?

I joined a group of Plein Air painters last spring. I am pretty happy with my latest attempt.

Plein Air painting apple tree and fields

What exactly is Plein Air?

Well according to Wikipedia: En plein air is a French expression which means “in the open air” and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors, which is also called peinture sur le motif (“painting of the object(s) or what the eye actually sees”) in French.

To me that definition is correct but a bit bland. My definition from my experience would also have to include this list: Camaraderie with friends, challenging your mosquito or gnat threshold, battling mother nature, sun, rain, wind, too hot, too cold, constant changing of light and shadows, having aha moments, juggling all your gear, and the pure joy of painting in nature.

This year I am making some progress. I am getting a little faster. I am understanding the medium of working with oils a little more. I was more familiar with Acrylics, and oils had a learning curve for sure. I find it interesting how you can have a plan of how to paint a scene, but once you get started sometimes it turns out totally different. Sometimes a happy accident and it works. Sometimes – not so much.

Every painting is a chance to learn something new and to build on your skills. There are Plein Air groups all over the country. Grab your paints and tag along – you will be hooked before you know it.

Would love to hear your comments …

5 thoughts on “So what exactly is Plein Air Painting?

  • July 22, 2015 at 9:10 pm
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    Great information, clearly stated.
    Marvelous painting by an obviously talented lady!

  • July 25, 2015 at 8:21 am
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    Beautiful painting. I was wondering what medium you used. I would love to plein air paint again. The times i have has been in workshops. Guess I need a group to go with. Your blog made it sound inviting. 🙂

  • July 25, 2015 at 9:19 pm
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    Ann Bowen – For Plein Air I use oils. I am not quite to the point of finishing on site but I am getting close. It is challenging but so much fun! Find a group or start your own – get out there and paint – you will love it!

  • April 9, 2016 at 10:34 am
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    Hi Kathy, are you outside painting this year or have plans? I know you are taking it easy a bit, but your brain never stops if I remember you correctly. I love the painting you show from last July. You are so tremendously gifted. Maybe I should trek on up to the north woods and you could share some of your expertise? What do you say, cous?

  • April 9, 2016 at 10:57 am
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    Hey Cynthia — You remembered right — my brain never stops. Thanks for the compliment on the painting. I was pretty happy the way it turned out. I learned a lot last year and am anxious to start doing the plein air again. There are so many great places to go around here. It is challenging but so fun! Yes we have to paint together when the weather warms up.!

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