Friday, August 26, 2011

My En Plein Air days

Although I’m a studio painter today, back in the early 1990’s I went through a phase for about 2-3 years where I was a Plein air painter,  keeping the trunk  of my car always packed with my easel and oils and ready to go explore new and beautiful places!   By the way, En plein air, is the French language translates to "in the open air".  I just LOVED painting outdoors, and in California where the weather is almost always mild, I could paint almost every day of the year. There’s nothing like working in the natural light and nature, but it also forced me to paint fast before the sun moved too much and changed all the colors and shadows around me that I was painting. So, my paintings back then were a lot more loosely painted, more impressionistically, than what you see today.  In my plein air paintings, I couldn’t give much thought to them and went with my feeling and skills that were in me and translated it to the paintings.
I’d get intimately involved in my surroundings and experience of everything that day, so each painting I created, I would have a special memory behind it of what I was up to on that day; what critter may have crossed my path or have seen in the distance, or person(s) I was painting with, what my mood and feelings were, what was going on in my life with family, friends, loves, or even my cat at that time, all which affect what I create.  So much is wrapped up inside my paintings, for me.  I know this is what had made it hard parting with them when they had sold.

Below is one at the Carpinteria Bluffs off of Ballard Street, in Carpinteria, Caliornia.  You can see the phone pole in the distance and there’s a railroad track which parallels the bluffs.  I’ve done many paintings all around this site.

Here I am painting in the Cow Pastures up in the hills off of Cathedral Oaks Road in Santa Barbara.  It was an over-cast, kind of gloomy and serene day, which I believe I was able to translate into the series below.

Here are the cow pastures below, and there were a couple cows around but I left them out because they wouldn't sit still. I did this series of three all in one day. 

This one is looking in the opposite direction down to our beautiful coastal town, Santa Barbara.

The clouds and mist was really rolling in. It really did feel and look like it was going to thunder storm, but it never did.

I do miss Plein air painting and when I have more leisure time again someday, I still have my outdoor easel waiting for me.  It is so cherished, the whole experience and the life of leisure as it felt at the time.  I can't help thinking that this is how it must have felt for some of the French Impressionist painters such as Monet, Pissarro and Renoir as they paintied outdoors back in those days.  It was quite a romantic experience and way of life.

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