The French phrase "en plein air" means "in the open air" At the end of the 19th century this type of
outdoor painting was practically unheard of. Then along came English painter, John Constable. He
was kind of a rebel in the art world deciding to forget formulas, find truth in nature and trust your own vision. He began to create sketches outdoors and then finished them into full sized paintings in his studio.
Our cottage is near an art school and every year they host a Plein Air Painting Festival. It is fascinating to watch these artists create small masterpieces of everyday flowers, houses and scenes using their oil paints.
This particular piece (above and below) is one of my favorites. He is painting a couple of old summer cottages, but what this photograph does not capture is the thick texture the artist has built up on the canvas using the oil paints. I've never been a fan of working with oils because I like instant gratification and oil paint takes so long to dry. But watching these artists work makes me want to give it a try. Perhaps someday.
When I arrived I parked my car near this artist, at which time her canvas only had a background of purple paint. When I returned to my car, she was finished and rushing off to get her painting turned in to the judges. You see, the contest this day was to create a plein air painting in under two hours! Can you imagine? Sounds like a fun challenge, but much too much pressure for me....especially with people looking over your shoulder why you work!