Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Plein Air Painting

I've had several people ask me what "Plein Air" means. Simply, it means painting in the outdoors. It also means being prepared for cold, fog, rain, sun, heat, wind, bugs, dehydration, starvation, criticism, and anything else that comes with painting outdoors. There are also a lot of positive things about painting outdoors. I have the opinion that it keeps me "honest" in my work. When you paint outdoors with all the colors and elements there before you, it can be the best teacher. I also enjoy being able to re-connect with artist friends that I haven't seen in a year.

I'm in Cedarburg, Wisconsin participating in its annual Plein Air Festival - a 10 day event featuring 160 artists from around the country. Here is how it works:

Check in on a Wednesday. Paint in Port Washington, WI.
Thursday - paint in Cedarburg or Port Washington
Friday - paint in Cedarburg
Saturday - QUICK PAINT. Each artist must check in at the registration table in town with a blank canvas. The volunteers stamp the back of the canvas, and record the time that you check in. You are given 2-1/2 hours to get to where you want to paint, set-up (it's wise to lay out paints before you check in), sketch out and paint an entire painting, frame it, and return to the registration table with it. It sounds intimidating, but is actually exhilarating.
Sunday-Thursday - paint in Cedarburg
Thursday morning - Turn in paintings. Each artist can turn in their "best" two paintings from the Cedarburg days, and one painting from Port Washington.
Friday (June 27) - Come and see all the works on display!

Saturday and Sunday (June 28-29) is Strawberry Festival in Cedarburg. If an artist wishes, they can participate in "Paint the Festival." I won't be painting the festival this year, but it can be a fun experience. This festival draws tens of thousands of people and is the climax of the Plein Air Festival. Most of the artists will opt to leave any unsold paintings at the Cedarburg Cultural Center, to be on display until August 9.

I've also been asked how difficult it is to transport wet oil paintings. For those who aren't familiar with oils, they can take up to six weeks to dry. These panel carriers have come in very handy: https://www.raymarart.com/Wet-Painting-Carriers-Wet-Panel-Carriers-s/21.htm. I like to paint on panels when painting outdoors. The thicker surface keeps light from shining through from the back side.

Here is one of the paintings I worked on while here:

Cedarburg is a lovely community!


Teresa Cowley said...

What an experience! Love your painting!

Kathleen Eaton said...

This is the fourth year I've participated in the Cedarburg Plein Air event. It's well-run and fun to come back to year after year.