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Plein Air Painting

Updated: May 13, 2021

According to Wikipedia, En plein air (pronounced [ɑ̃ plɛ.n‿ɛʁ]; French for "outdoors"), or plein air painting, is the act of painting outdoors. While the name may sound a bit pretentious, the reality of this activity is anything but...

This type of painting happens to involve two of my favorite things: 1) being outdoors and 2) painting. The process of painting outside is full of challenges. Changing weather conditions, finding interesting subjects to paint, safety concerns, sun burns, insects and more all are stacked on top of the basic challenges of creating a painting!

I am relatively new to the world of Plein Air Painting but I hope it is something I get to do more frequently and for a long time to come.

Here is a recent painting I had the opportunity to create while on a short hike near our home. I call it "Islands in the Stream" 12" x 12" oil on wood panel. This was painted on the banks of Broadhead Creek in Stroud Township, Pennsylvania.

I drive by this location nearly every day and noticed it for the first time when stuck in traffic while crossing a nearby bridge. While painting I noticed a goose nesting in the middle of the two trees and due to time constraints, decided to leave her out of the painting. I also had the opportunity to meet a person who lives in the neighborhood in the area I accessed the creek from. He said he always wanted to learn to paint but never did. I tried to reassure him that it was never too late to learn and he resisted, stating the he was now seventy-two and was too busy trying to maintain his home.

He went on to say that if I paint this scene for him and include the goose he will buy it from me. We had a good laugh and went on our way. Shortly thereafter I packed up and headed out on the short hike back to my truck. When I came out of the woods the same man greeted me and said I could park in his driveway whenever I wanted to paint in this area. He said it would save me time because his driveway was closer to the creek than the public lot.

Maybe there are three things I like about painting "En Plein Air..." 1) being outdoors; 2) painting; and 3) meeting people that are genuinely curious and kind.

If you wish to check out some more of my plein air paintings you can do so on my site:

Here is some of the video footage from this painting session. Albeit I lost some of it while taping on my iPhone, enough remained to help get many of the main parts of the day.

If you'd like to join me for some outdoor painting let me know. Hoping to do more throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall Seasons!

I hope you have a good day! Stay well, Tom

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