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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Plein Air Painting

Working in My Outdoor Studio

This painting progresses...
See additional photos below...

Though I do not consider myself a plein air painter, I seem to be one these days.  That is a result of my temporary studio location in an interior courtyard which has four walls and no ceiling.  It has been an interesting challenge to work with sun, heat or cold, and wind conditions in the studio.  When the wind is blowing it is difficult to work due to fibers and dust flying around through the air and getting caught in my pigments.  The baking sun does just that to my paints, so they dry more quickly and anyone who uses acrylics understands they dry rapidly enough on their own.  When it was cooler I worked in the afternoons.  Now that the days are much warmer (97 degrees today) I must work in the early mornings.    Ok, I'm not really a plein air painter, but I am dealing with some of the same conditions.

Here is a bit of information about plein air:
En plein air (French pronunciation: [ɑ̃ plɛˈnɛʁ]) is a French expression which means "in the open air", and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors.
Artists have long painted outdoors, but in the mid-19th century working in natural light became particularly important to the Barbizon school and Impressionism. The popularity of painting en plein air increased in the 1870s with the introduction of paints in tubes (resembling modern toothpaste tubes). Previously, each painter made their own paints by grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil

It was during this period that the "Box Easel", typically known as the French Box Easel, was invented. It is uncertain who developed it first, but these highly portable easels, with telescopic legs and built-in paint box andpalette, made treks into the forest and up the hillsides less onerous. Still made today, they remain a popular choice even for home use since they fold up to the size of a brief case and thus are easy to store.[2]

French Impressionist painters such as Claude MonetCamille Pissarro, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir advocated en plein air painting, and much of their work was done outdoors, in the diffuse light provided by a large white umbrella. 

The popularity of outdoor painting has endured throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century, and has made a resurgence today.

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