What is Plein-Air Painting?
En plein air is a French term that translates literally as “in the open air.” The term “plein-air painting,” as it is currently used, usually refers to paintings that are completed on location.
Over the past 20 years, interest in plein-air painting has exploded in the West. Once considered revolutionary, when French Impressionists like Monet and Pissarro first began painting outdoors, today working on location is routine for many landscape artists. Plein-air painters often contend that something is lost when a painting originates from a photograph as the sole reference material—that it just doesn’t convey the experience of actually being there.
Below you will find links to articles, events, and other resources on plein-air painting and plein-air painters from Southwest Art magazine…enjoy!
Over the years, Southwest Art has published numerous feature stories about plein-air artists from across the country. Check out our Plein-Air Painters page to learn about some of these artists and their plein-air paintings.
Plein-Air issues of Southwest Art
Each June, Southwest Art publishes its plein-air issue, featuring famous plein-air painters and emerging plein-air artists. In 2012, we added numerous Show Previews of plein-air art shows and paint-outs happening throughout the country. Check out the links below to see who & what we’ve covered in recent years for our annual focus on plein-air painting:
Features include The World in Real Time: Kathleen Dunphy paints the ever-changing landscape & Original Vision: Jerry Markham explores the natural world with inimitable style.
Features include Beyond Main Street: Tim Horn captures the light of everyday moments & Inspiration en Plein Air: Meet 10 artists who take their paints outdoors.
Features include Brush Strokes of Life: Walt Gonske, Windows to Grandeur: Kim Lordier, The Significance of Silence: Stephen C. Datz, & Becoming an Artist: John Poon.
Features include Inside & Out: Jim McVicker is at home in a studio or on location & Catching the Light: Matt Smith relishes painting the great outdoors.
Plein-Air Events & Shows
June 2013 Show Previews
From June 28-July 4, 2013, 29 painters from across the country converge in Telluride to spend a week painting on location, capturing the light, colors, and character of this breathtaking spot.
From June 28-30, 2013, the artists, galleries, and community members of Cannon Beach celebrate the natural splendor of their picturesque town on the Oregon coast.
July 2012 Show Previews
The third annual Aspen Plein Air celebration, art show, and sale took place July 7-13 in Aspen, CO. A total of 15 plein-air painters participated in the invitational show.
The first-ever plein-air painting event in Grand Teton National Park took place in 2012, courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters group.
June 2012 Show Previews
From June 29-July 5, 2012, the Sheridan Arts Foundation hosted 31 nationally recognized plein-air artists in Telluride, CO, for the ninth annual Telluride Plein Air celebration.
Each year, the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico hosts a paint-out, exhibition, and sale in a different location around the state that inspires them. In 2012 the group painted in Ruidoso, NM.
Other Southwest Art Articles About Plein-Air painting
Meet 12 artists who honor the landscape by capturing it in person.
(Featured in June 2013)
Meet 10 artists who take their paints outdoors.
(Featured in June 2012)
Meet six plein-air painters who find inspiration in the land around them.
(Featured in February 2011)
Historic painters of California’s natural beauty paved the way for today’s plein-air movement.
(Featured in June 2008)