Plein Air Painting What is that?
“Plein Air” simply put is the a French term for painting outside. It was a term that came from the French Impressionists as they picked up their easels and moved out into the landscape seeking to capture the illusion and feeling of light. They sought to find the higher truth in the landscape by being in it, surrounded by nature’s glories. They learned from the landscape what the studio couldn’t teach them.
The Reason to Paint in Plein Air
There is no better way to learn to paint the landscape than to get outside and paint it. You can’t get lazy like you can working with photographs. You just don’t have the time. The light is always changing constantly moving. You have to put your paint down confidently and quickly, always reminding yourself of what you liked about the light and landscape when you started, to make sure that comes across when you finish. Since time is scarce when painting outdoors you must also learn to mix your colors quickly and put them down on the canvas as soon as possible. Because you are using limited colors, five to seven, and forced to make quick decisions your mastery of color mixing develops very fast. Value and structure, the fundamentals of any descent painting, must be understood and interpreted quickly to allow time to finish your painting. By pushing yourself to paint quickly and mix color accurately, you improve your painting skills and hone your abilities.