Plein Air Painting – A Loyally Following, Then and Now


Contemporary Western Art

Plein air artists strive to capture the spirit and essence of a landscape or subject before them.

Artists have long painted outdoors, but in France during the mid-19th century, working in natural light became more popular and particularly important to various schools and movements. With this interest and support, Plein Air painting began to gather its first loyal followers. Plein air painting is a French expression meaning “in the open air,” and refers to the act of painting outdoors. The term described artists such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas, who began creating their work outdoors. Since then, the term plein air has been used to describe people who paint outside. Using an outdoor easel, paints, and brushes, plein air artists strive to capture the spirit and essence of a landscape or subject before them.

The imagery is often distilled, infusing it with an energy and sense of spontaneity, not always seen in…

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