Inside the Process: A Passion for Plein Air

In this three-part article series, we take you inside the painting studios of six artists across the country, from California to Colorado to New Hampshire. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at everything from studio setups to plein-air excursions to step-by-step demonstrations. Please click the links below to visit each artist’s page.

In Part 3 of our series meet two artists from opposite coasts that share a passion for plein air painting. Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the series to meet all six talented artists.

Lori S. Robinson

Lori S. Robinson is a passionate plein-air painter. “The outdoors is where I learned to paint in the impressionist style I love, and I believe it provides the best foundation for learning to paint light and color,” she says. While her goal is always to complete her paintings outside, she will occasionally work in the studio to add finishing touches or to enlarge a smaller plein-air piece. 

Lori’s Studio

Her process often starts with driving up and down the Northern California coast where she lives until she finds a scene that calls her to paint it. Then she grabs her easel, oils, brushes, and palette knife and quickly sets up to work. She starts by taking a “crop” of the scene she wants to focus on, then does a couple of sketches to test different compositions.  

Lori’s Setup

Once she’s comfortable with the sketch, she starts blocking in the essential shapes, forms, and shadows on the canvas. Then she does an underpainting using either warm or cool colors. Using her brush and sometimes a palette knife, she keeps adding paint until she achieves what she set out to—or until the lighting is gone or the weather turns.  

“Plein-air painting is very meditative for me, but it can also be like an extreme sport,” she laughs. Indeed, painting outdoors comes with a lot of uncertainty—but it’s all part of the process for Robinson. “There’s usually a moment when the quality of light and an ephemeral feeling of beauty is just striking,” she says, and that experience is more than enough to keep her at it.  

Ranch Headlands
Castle Rocks
Sonoran Sunrise

To learn more about Lori S. Robinson’s artwork and creative process, visit http://lorisrobinson.com

David Lussier

David Lussier learned much of the foundation for his paintingtechnique while studying illustration in art school. “I had great teachers—including photorealist and trompe l’oeil painter Ken Davies—who taught me to paint and draw with a precise, classical approach,” he says.  

Summer Haze

The New England artist was originally drawn to portraiture, butafter graduating he soon found himself gravitating toward landscapes. “One day I went outside to paint, and it was like getting hit over head with shovel,” he says. “A light went off and I thought, ‘Aha! This feels right!’” He quickly became an avidoutdoor painter.  

Dappled Light

Today his studio and plein-air works are inspired by subjects that can easily be found outside his home in New Hampshire, where he lives and paints with his wife, artist Pamela M. Lussier. “I’m so fortunate that my soulmate is also a painter,” he says. “We love to travel and paint together, and we also teach painting workshops in New England and along the Eastern Seaboard throughout the year.” 

David’s Studio

When it comes to his process, Lussier describes himself as painterly, and he believes that less is more. “Both when I paint and when I teach, I focus on simplifying everything—shapes, values, and even color—right down to having only a few brushes,” he says. Ultimately, Lussier’s execution comes down to painting from the gut. “There’s a dialogue that takes place between myself and my subject as I paint,” he says. “When I feel satisfied, I put the brushes down and hope the viewer will feel satisfied, too.”  

To learn more about David Lussier’s artwork and creative process, visit davidlussiergallery.com/davids-paintings

Meet all artists in this series below:

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