Painting en "Plein Air"
Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Painting Outdoors by Grainne Roche Fine Artist.
On a sunny day in April, I decided to hop in my campervan and head for my nearest beach, to blow off some cobwebs and breathe in the fresh sea air. I decided to bring my paints & easel, a panoramic box canvas, and a packaged lunch (flask of tea/essential).
I class myself as a coastal/ landscape artist, essentially, but do not always find the time to paint out, due to work/ time constraints/ weather etc and more often than not, work from photographs I take on walks and outings. When I do get the chance, however, I totally immerse myself in it. You just cannot beat the feeling of experiencing what you are painting, first hand.
Plein air painting is about experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. The practice goes a long way back in time, but was really brought to the forefront in the art world by the French Impressionists. The term ‘en plein air’ is simply French for “in the open air,” meaning plein air painting is just simply, painting outdoors.
The Impressionists school of thought was that natural daylight is the ideal illumination. They aimed not only to depict it accurately, but to track its changes. The Impressionists didn’t only paint outdoors, they painted the passing of time, and the feelings it evoked.
When you paint outdoors you encounter several different light changes. These changes have distinctive qualities that can transform the painting. I sometimes struggle with this, but actually, I’ve decided, it suits my layering style. I like to think, I produce paintings that synthesise the many elements of a place, but I feel this is only truly achievable when you are present and taking part of the actual artwork. You become the story and the story becomes you. The two unite, to capture a moment in time and place in its truest form. Because my work is very energetic, there is so much build-up of colour and texture, when painting outdoors; this texture then becomes almost weathered. On Sunday, I even went as far as mixing sand from the ground I was standing on, into the paint to further capture that sense of place on my canvas.
I plan to do lots more 'Paint Out' days this summer and hope to organise trips for others to join me. I have also joined forces with a French Company, Zero Neuf based in the Midi Pyrenees to host French Plein Air Painting Holidays; with the first planned trip taking place on 4th-8th August. For more information and prices check out www.grainneroche.com/paintingholidays