About En Plein Air Art
En Plein Air
En Plein Air, French for ‘in the open air’, is a long-lasting art tradition and style. As the name suggests, En Plein Air requires a painter to take his or her easel out into the open air and paint.
The natural light that En Plein Air afforded to painters was invaluable with the rise of Impressionism, and many impressionists became advocates for the style, including Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Painting En Plein Air grew in popularity when paint in tubes was introduced in the 1870s, and with the invention of the French box easel. These innovations made it easier for artists to venture into forests and meadows and set up their work. The popularity of En Plein Air remained throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.
En Plein Air is a pervasive form of painting. As mentioned before, Claude Monet, famous for his water lily paintings, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, known for his painting Bal du moulin de la Galette, both took to plein air painting. Another artist of this style was Vincent van Gogh. Some of his most iconic works were painted en plein air.
En Plein Air artists have spanned many different movements, from Monet’s Impressionism, van Gogh’s Post-Impressionism, John Singer Sargent’s Realism, to the landscape painting of George Inness. It is in these last groups that I find my own art.
Colorado and the American Southwest has some of the best landscapes around. I take my eye of Realism into the many state parks here in Colorado, hike to the lakes or down into basins, and make my art en plein air. Being that close to the reality, seeing the movement of the grasses in the wind, or the flow of the river through the rocks lets me capture the moment in its truth and its living reality.