Saturday, March 20, 2010

Painting Techniques: Plein Air Painting

The term, En plein air, as found in Wikipedia, is a French expression which means "in the open air", and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors.  I got plenty of plein air this week as I ventured outside to paint sans photograph.  The reason for this new approach is to improve my painting techniques and become a better painter.  I truly believe an artist can always improve and it just takes practice.

This is exactly what my new over-the-phone painting coach, Ian Roberts, told me on Monday when I had a critique.  Ian stressed that practice is the most important thing for a painter.  His other key suggestion was to get outside and learn about what nature REALLY looks like.  Knowing the true colors and shapes of nature helps to fix problem areas in a painting.  Seeing a subject in true context makes it easier to add or subtract from a composition while keeping the painting balanced.  Learing to paint En Plein Air will help me create more dramatic and powerful paintings. 

My first outdoor painting below was done in black, white and yellow ochre.  This limited palette was intended to get me to focus on the composition, the color shapes and the sunlight.  Plein Air painting is a bit cumbersome at first but I know that doing it repetitively will help my painting technique overall.  

  En Plein Air:  A path at Torrey Pines State Reserve, 4:30 PM, March 17th


alex feliciano said...

Hello Elisabeth,
I love this one!! I feel inspired to work outside more. This one feels right.

-If you have a second, please check out Sketchbook friday at

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