On Friday in late March, Southern California Plein Air Painter’s Association (SOCALPAPA) gathered once again to paint the Back Bay around the Muth Interpretive Center. Everyone selected a spot from which to paint a landscape. Since I am a studio artist, it always amazes me as to how the decision is made to set up in a particular location that I would never have considered worthy subject matter for a painting. However, the scene is always well represented and makes sense when completed.
En plein air is the act of painting outdoors. This method contrasts with studio painting or academic rules that might create a predetermined look. Artists have long painted outdoors, but in the mid-19th century, working in natural light became particularly important to the Barbizon school, Hudson River School, and Impressionists. All are my favorites; however, I never enjoyed painting outside for a variety of reasons. Thus, I have a deep respect for those who can successfully complete their missions.
Challenges include the type of paint used to paint outdoors, animals, bugs, onlookers, and environmental conditions such as weather. Acrylic paint may harden and dry quickly in warm, sunny weather and it cannot be reused. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the challenge of painting in moist or damp conditions with precipitation. The advent of plein air painting predated the invention of acrylics. The traditional and well-established method of painting en plein air incorporates the use of oil paint.
Among the artists who were painting today was Shih Yann Chen who says painting outside is challenging but always rewarding when the finished piece is worthy of showing.
Lorraine Dawson likes painting outside and in real life rather than from a photograph. She likes being outside and the camaraderie that she has experienced with this group..
Kathleen Williams likes the true colors outside and selected a good spot for an overview of a path with the reflections and the clouds.
Ursula Olsson paints about 70 percent on sight, takes photos and finishes in her studio. Went right to her favorite spot on the Back Bay and set up to paint the same scene she had done about 4 or 5 times. She doesn’t paint in the direct sun so setting up her umbrella takes extra time and helps to create a protected environment to create her new vision.
Al Carlson was an art teacher for 40 years always using utilizing “inside art” techniques. But once he retired he decided to make the change and got hooked.
The general public will be able to see their works exhibited at the SOCALPAPA Annual Show and Sale at the Muth on July 27-28. Awards will be given out and purchases can be made of finished artworks. There will be 2 sessions of painting classes for children during both Saturday and Sunday. For information on the Annual Art Show & Sale, CLICK HERE.