I don’t do plein air very often. In fact, up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t know what “plein air” meant. It comes from the French phrase en plein air (“in the open air”) and describes a style of painting done outdoors, observing your subject and the light and atmospheric effects first-hand while creating your artwork. The Impressionists were the first to make a strong habit of this style. It is a challenging way to paint as your light and atmospheric effects are constantly changing. So, in truth, you are getting an impression of what you are painting, not a photo-realistic image.
At the cottage we stayed at in Quebec a few days ago, I sat on the dock and attempted some plein air painting. I say “attempted” because I am definitely a novice at this sort of thing. But, I must admit, I enjoyed it immensely. It helped that the setting was so beautiful and so peaceful. Certainly, it was intimidating to begin. But as I got into it, I found it was so much more gratifying than drawing or painting from a photograph. I felt connected to the scene around me, far more than I have even when out shooting photographs of the natural beauty here in Canada.
Plein air painting wakes you up. It is more than the fresh air, it is a fresh perspective and something that seems to draw on so many of your resources at once. The painting I share here was the result. It is not a masterpiece but it was authentically done, with the all of me that I was capable of putting into it.
Hopefully, into the future, me and plein air will get far better acquainted.