Edward Kennedy’s plein air pastel landscapes take viewers to many places—a shimmering river in Yellowstone National Park, the rocky coast of Maine and sleepy country roads in the Midwest. No matter the setting, though, the paintings by this mostly self-taught artist conjure a deeper place—that calm, meditative state of mind that can only be found in nature.
“The landscape and being outdoors heals me; it grounds me,” says Kennedy, who lives in Ann Arbor, Mich. By day, he works as a chemical engineer in a windowless office; on nights and weekends, he paints en plein air as often and as much as he can. “When I go outdoors, I can be present. It really makes a difference.”
Kennedy has learned to resist the urge to rush through the plein air process. Time constraints and changing light used to push him to paint fast, which resulted in mistakes. “I’ve really learned to slow down my plein air painting and force myself to go back to the basics,” the pastelist says. “It’s made a big difference in my work, which then carries back into the studio. I’ve learned that I have more time than I think.”