In Plein Air

Oct. 7, 2010

I was well into middle age before I heard the term plein air, although I had enjoyed that form of painting from time to time.  It simply means painting outdoors what you see in front of you.  It was a teacher in a Lawrence Art Center plein air class who first introduced me to that term.  I looked up the words in an old college French textbook.  Literally, it seems to mean full of air.  Whatever, it’s a great way to paint.

I was plein air painting yesterday at the home of a country artist friend.  The weather was perfect, sunny, no wind, and not too hot or too cold.  Perhaps influenced by the Monet series I had seen at the Art Institute, I painted in a location where I had painted before.  I set up my easel beside a pond looking at the trees on the other side and their reflection in the water.  Several years ago I painted from this spot, but that painting was a vertical one and it was painted later in the fall when the trees had changed color.  Yesterday’s painting was horizontal and the trees were still mostly green.  I like it enough to want to finish it.  It is hard to think of names for paintings.  I called the first one “Carol’s Pond.”  Now what shall I call this one?  “Carol’s Pond II” seems kind of lame.

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