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Why I Paint Plein Air.

"Creating on the spot has an adventure that my modest words will never explain. Ask an auto racer, a mountain climber. Something happens when all five senses are working and the sixth sense arrives."

-Harley Brown

There is a story behind each painting. The stories are much more vivid, raw, and alive when painting on site, en plein air. This statement alone is reason enough to justify my desire to get out and paint.

The feelings I experience while painting en plein air are akin to those I recall feeling when I was much younger while participating in meaningful, well-played baseball or hockey games.

Much like when participating in competitive athletics, there are moments of exhilaration and exhaustion that follow an extended period of intense, sustained and focus effort. We would not get these same feelings while at most practices and when in the batting cage. Time on the field, managing events within moments beyond our control while persistently working and hoping for good outcomes were what we lived for.

One can get a similar burst of feelings when confronting a blank canvas, braving the elements and attempting to render a complex scene as the elements buzz and growl around you. Combine all that with the love of nature, great memories reminiscent of simpler times spent hiking, fishing, and camping with family and friends and it becomes rather obvious to me why I am so drawn to plein air painting.

Add to this mix the growth that is necessitated while attempting to paint plein air and it widens my preference for it over indoor, studio-based painting. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them both but if given the choice, you are more likely to find me on the banks of a river or stream somewhere in the woods than in my studio these days.

(See the image below and scroll through some of my recent plein air paintings)

If you are curious about what is required to get started as a plein air painter and if you would like to learn more about the topic, feel free to reach out to me at

You may also want to check out some of the following resources as well – they definitely have helped me and you may find them helpful too!

Kyle Buckland Plein Air Oil Painting Demonstration Beginner Lesson #1

Everything You Want to Know about Plein Air Painting Materials and Supplies

Also, check out the follow book briefs I posted on YouTube summarizing books that provide helpful information related to the topic of painting outdoors.

Painting Book Brief: Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne; 7th Edition

Painting Book Brief: Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting

Painting Book Brief - The Art of Plein Air Painting

Cheers - Be well!


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