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. Click here to purchase a copy of the June 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine, and check out previous years’ editions of our annual focus on plein-air painting below:
Southwest Art magazine June 2011
This issue features interesting articles with beautiful images focused on plein-air painting and plein-air artists, including Brush Strokes of Life: Walt Gonske, Windows to Grandeur: Kim Lordier, The Significance of Silence: Stephen C. Datz, and Becoming an Artist: John Poon.
Southwest Art magazine June 2010
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, In Pursuit of Painting: Jill Carver searches for images that inspire her, and On Location: Six artists hooked on painting outdoors.
Plein-Air Events & Shows
July 2012 Show Previews
Aspen Plein Air
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, including returning artists Michele Byrne, Joshua Been, and Susiehyer.
Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters: Plein Air for the Park
The first-ever plein-air painting event in Grand Teton National Park took place this summer, courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters group. Plein Air for the Park is the group’s 11th annual national paint-out and exhibition, and it features 44 nationally recognized artists.
June 2012 Show Previews
Telluride Plein Air
From June 29 through July 5, the Sheridan Arts Foundation hosted 31 nationally recognized plein-air artists in Telluride, CO, for the ninth annual Telluride Plein Air celebration. The event is “a plein-air painter’s dream come true,” says participating artist Kirsten Anderson.
Plein Air Painters of New Mexico
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. This year, for the seventh annual PAPNM Paint-Out and Exhibition, the group painted in and around the town of Ruidoso, NM, from May 20-25.
Other Southwest Art Articles About Plein-Air painting
Portfolio: Inspiration en Plein Air Painting
Meet 10 artists who take their paints outdoors.
(Featured in June 2012)
Plein-Air Portfolio | Exploring the World
Meet six plein-air painters who find inspiration in the land around them.
(Featured in February 2011)
Paradise Lost and Found
Historic painters of California’s natural beauty paved the way for today’s plein-air movement.
(Featured in June 2008)