Plein-Air Painting

Plein-air Painter Raj Chaudhuri

Plein-air Painter Raj Chaudhuri

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!


Plein-Air Painters Page

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:

Southwest Art, June 2013Southwest Art June 2013

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.




Southwest Art, June 2012Southwest Art June 2012

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.




Southwest Art June 2011 cover | Plein Air Painting

Southwest Art June 2011

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.




Southwest Art June 2010 cover Southwest Art June 2010

Features include Inside & Out: Jim McVicker is at home in a studio or on location & Catching the LightMatt Smith relishes painting the great outdoors.




Plein-Air Events & Shows

June 2013 Show Previews

Bill Cramer, Clarice’s Ranch, oil, 18 x 24.Telluride Plein Air

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.




Jeffrey Hull, Before the Breeze, watercolor, 16 x 23.Plein Air & More Festival

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

Red Onion by Michele ByrneAspen 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.




Stephen C. Datz, The Grand, oil, 8 x 8.Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters: Plein Air for the Park

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

Randall Sexton, Morning Walk, oil, 14 x 18Telluride Plein Air

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.




Peggy Immel, Autumn in Crestone, oil, 11 x 14. 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. In 2012 the group painted in Ruidoso, NM.




Other Southwest Art Articles About Plein-Air painting

Elaine Mathews, Springtime in the Desert, oil, 16 x 20.Portfolio: A Passion for Plein Air

Meet 12 artists who honor the landscape by capturing it in person.
(Featured in June 2013)




Joy Ride by Jim WodarkPortfolio: Inspiration en Plein Air Painting

Meet 10 artists who take their paints outdoors.
(Featured in June 2012)




Guidance by John BurtonPlein-Air Portfolio | Exploring the World

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)