This month continues to be a whirlwind of activity, and the Plein Air Paint-Off hosted by The Gallery at Hood Street in McDonough, Georgia was no exception. We started the day early and I spent eight hours outside in the blazing Georgia heat painting two huge paintings in acrylic. This sounds demanding, but it’s actually a traditional method that follows in the footsteps of some of the most renowned painters of our time.
Plein air, or outdoor, painting is something of a time-tested art form. Many of the masters were plein air painters, particularly landscape artists or those focused on the interplay of light and shadow at various times of the day such as Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh in particular was fond of plein air, so much so that museum curators have found grasshoppers embedded in the thick paint on his canvases.
‘…if I felt no love for nature and my work, then I would be unhappy.’
To his brother Theo, from The Hague, 26 July 1882
As punishing as it can be to pick tools and paints, find a suitable subject, have enough water to clean brushes, and keep tools and canvases from blowing away (among other challenges), it was a great experience meeting curious observers and fellow artists. This challenge was about demonstrating for the community how art is made in person and challenging myself to create something on the spot in limited time with limited resources. I learned a lot about what I really need in a tight spot, and now I’ll know better how to pack for future plein air adventures.
Does plein air painting seem like something you’d want to try? Have you ever done it or watched someone else?