Monday, June 12, 2006

Plein Aire Painter

My friend, Jan, is also an artist. We both primarily paint the landscape. I work in my studio and she is primarily a plein aire painter. Over coffee, we have discussed the positives and negatives of both methods.

Jan has talked about how wonderful it is to be potdoors on a beautiful day. To feel the sun on your face and enjoy the gentle breezes. Then, she tells me, there are all the wonderful and subtle sounds. The rustling of the leaves and the sounds of the songbirds. There are also the sweet fragrances of all the plantlife. Jan tells me that the world of the plein aire painter is a world of sensual delight. I agree with her completely.

I know this because just about everyday my wife and I take our four dogs out for a walk. We usualy head over to a state wildlife preserve and go hiking along the trails. Throughout the course of the year we experience this area constantly changing with the seasons. Earlier this Spring we counted 12 swans out on the lakes and ponds. Along the trails, away fom the waters edge, the turtles are coming ashore to dig holes and lay their eggs. The Canadian Geese are leading their young from the nests into the water to instruct them in what it is that they do. And for me it is always a pleasure to see red shouldered black birds. I've told Jan that I really do love the quiet and solitude of these places. Because I go out to them most everyday and then return home to our secluded and wooded acerage, I don't have much need to go out there as an artist.

I do like this area as an inspiration for paintings. In fact, I frequently take my digital camera or sketchbook with me. Because of my painting style, a few quick sketches and field notes are usually all that I need. Besides, lugging 20-30 pounds of painting gear, plus whatever food and drink I may want for the day, over hill and dale is not my idea of fun. Now mind you, I love to go camping. My wife and I spent our honeymoon camping in Yosemite National Park. But a day trip for painting is different.

I remember reading that the French artist, Edgar Degas, used to make fun of those early impressionist artists and their treks out to paint plein aire. While I don't make fun of outdoor painters, like Degas, I enjoy the comforts of my studio. I always have what I need when I need it. If the weather suddenly changes I never have to worry about it. When I want to stop for lunch the kitchen is only a few yards away and there is always coffee available. No, my idea of plein aire painting is to set up one of my easels out back under the shade of a tree and paint there. It is so much more convenient. And it is so much easier to take a break, stretch out on the hammock, and take a nap on a warm Summer day.


Blogger Tracy Helgeson said...

Hi Ed, these are really nice pieces that you have put up. I like the colors and the mood of both of them.

I like to enjoy all of that outside stuff too, breezes, sun, birds yada yada yada, just not when I am painting. When I am gardening, walking, sitting on the porch, but not while I work.

However, I respect those that do, unlike Degas, as I am willing to admit that I have a mile long lazy streak!

1:24 PM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Thanks Tracy,

Sometimes I try to see just how many different colors I can get into one painting before it falls apart. I don't think of it as a lazy streak just conserving my energy.

3:04 PM  
Blogger The Epiphany Artist said...

haha I have done plein air and I feel the same way you do. I like my studio. I constantly worry about a painting flying off from the wind and getting ruined after painting it all day or just clumsy me dropping it on the way back to the car... I have come close to heat stroke here in Florida several times... Bleaugh! We wont talk about the bugs...

3:26 PM  
Blogger jenncat said...

i agree - i'm more comfy in the studio. plus you don't have to worry about bears and snakes - lol!

8:18 PM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Hi TL, when I'm walking the bugs leave me alone but let me stop for awhile, like to do a painting, and I get eaten alive.

Hey Jenn, where we are moving to in NM there actually are bears around and also coyote, cougar, and mountain lions. A real good reason to stay in the studio. Monet never had to worry about a man eating haystack.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Lesly said...

Ed ... I am catching up on your posts 'cos I've missed a few. I like these pieces ... lovely mood to them.

I know lots of people do like to paint outside ... but not me. I love the outdoors for walking, inspiration and re-charging the inner spirit but I just loathe trying to paint out there!!

It's horses for courses ...

5:15 PM  

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