We enjoyed the recent plein air blog of artist Marion Boddy-Evans and agree with her sentiments. We have been outdoor painting for over forty years each (before the "plein air" phrase became ubiquitous) and have always felt that the value in painting outside on location was the total immersion in the landscape. That immersion engages all the senses and allows the artist to experience the moment and place, its smell and sound as well as its beauty. How an artist chooses to render all this is his or her unique choice.
|Sometimes the simplest gear is the best way to capture
the essence of nature in a plein air painting.
The new array of pochade boxes, backpacking easels, lightweight tripods and other equipment available to facilitate painting outside can enhance the experience by providing an almost fully equipped mini-studio on site. A plein air easel? We own 3 or 4 different plein air easels, tripods, umbrellas, etc., and find them very useful at times. The plein air workshops being offered by outstanding artists both here and abroad can teach tips and techniques that cut time off the learning curve for painting outdoors and provide invaluable networking and bonding between like-minded creative people.
But the core of creating art comes from an interior stillness, and landscape painters must drink in the experience before it can be translated onto paper, board or canvas through the filter of that interior stillness. Often, the rush to set up gear and get working can interfere with the process of contemplation which is so necessary to understanding the subject. Sometimes the best way is to venture out alone with a minimum of materials and wander the landscape, using the sketchbook and our ultra-portable watercolor kits. There is so much to learn and there are so many tools available to help us, but it seems of utmost importance not to lose that quiet voice inside. Don't you think? Where do you go to let that quiet focus for art come to you? Leave a comment and let us know!
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–John and Ann