En plein air is a French term that translates literally as “in the open air.” The term “plein-air painting,” as it is currently used, usually refers to paintings that are completed on location. Plein air painting is for artists who love to be in nature, artists who love to paint landscapes (as well as other outdoor subjects like buildings, old barns, farm equipment, flowers, gardens, animals etc.). Painting outdoors offers artists the pleasure of being in nature, smell the environment and feel the sunshine. And yes sometimes fight the bugs.
At the Shenandoah Art Destination we believe painting outdoors allows the artist to better represent the true colors of a scene, the true form of shapes, and the feel of a scene. Studio painters often use photographic references, which tend to change some colors and the lens distorts the picture. Painting from a photo almost leaves your own creativity at home. You feel like you have to copy. Painting outside changes all this.
To go outside we supply an EASEL. We have 7 lightweight French easels available. We also have chairs and sometimes a small side table. We have jars to put water in or turpentine etc. We have rags and bug spray.
A plein-air painter should bring paper towel or rags, paints, small plastic trash bags, palettes and brushes.
Although it is possible to close your easel or pochade box with one or two wet paintings stored safely, it’s better to place the panels or canvases in a carrier specifically designed to protect a wet surface. Wear neutral colored clothing (creams, beiges) rather than white which can reflect too much light onto your painting or bright colors which can reflect some of their color onto your painting.