Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Plein Air Painters

So what does it mean to be a Plein Air painter? What is Plein Air painting? The term comes from the French en plein air. Meaning, painting in the open air.

I like painting plein air because I like being out of the studio and in the fresh air. I love recording what I see what's in the world around me. Being a plein air painter can be very special. We paint things as we see them and Mother Nature is the best teacher. You learn a lot by painting outside. You have to deal with the elements, changing light, potential obstructions or changes in the environment. Sure, you could take a photograph, but it doesn't have the same feel to it and when you paint on location, you remember everything you see,feel, smell and hear with each mark of the brush or stroke of the pastel. When I sketch on site, I can open the sketchbook later and remember the place like I am there all over again.

Another thing my husband and I noticed when I paint a place and then return to it at a later time, is how things change. Artists, when they paint plein air, they paint time frozen in place.....a memory....We've gone back to places I have painted and have sometimes even been dismayed by the change. A once colorful eatery is now a drab plain jane sandwich shop. A trendy and unique boutique is closing and up for rent, the furnishings for sale, everything must go....a sign of the times, the economy taking its toll. But the memory I painted is frozen in time forever, and it makes me realize that as I paint, I record history as it is, at the time the painting has been completed.

Have I painted a location multiple times? Sure. I've lost count how many times and angles I have painted the Cape May Lighthouse. I love that whole area, the bird sanctuary, the hawk spotters, the beach, the monarch butterflies that fly by in late summer, like they have their own private expressway....I've painted the lighthouse midday, early in the day, several sunsets, from behind the beach grass....the lighthouse has a special place in my heart. There is something special about Cape May, the lighthouse and the Painted Ladies that draws me to paint Cape May.

I also love Chincoteague and Assateague, Annapolis and many other areas up and down the East Coast. I have painted in cow pastures in the mountains and have set up my easel on city streets. But no matter where I paint, I bring home a memory of a place that tells a story that no photograph can match.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Gina Lento on Facebook