Plein air competitions

Artists captures surrounding light and landscape

Rackstraw Downes : onsite paintings, 1972-2008
Klaus Ottmann ; with an essay by Sarah Rothenberg ; and an interview with the artist by Terrie Sultan.
Southampton, N.Y. : Parrish Art Museum ; London : In association with D Giles Ltd., c2010.
Rackstraw Downes: Onsite Paintings, 1972-2008 is the first significant survey of the work and methods of this British-born, Texas - and New York-based "realist" panoramic painter, and features 25 works from Downes' earliest panoramic work, A Thaw (1972)
Expressive oil painting : [an open air approach to creative landscapes]
George Allen Durkee.
Cincinnati, Ohio : North Light Books, c2009.
  1. Includes index.
  2. Subtitle from cover.
In the light of Italy : Corot and early open-air painting
Philip Conisbee, Sarah Faunce, Jeremy Strick ; with Peter Galassi, guest curator.
Washington : National Gallery of Art ; New Haven : Yale University Press, c1996.
Prominent art historians Philip Conisbee, Sarah Faunce, Jeremy Strick, Peter Galassi, and Vincent Pomarede discuss the cultural, theoretical, and art historical background of this school of outdoor painting. They examine the early history of open-air painting, its theory and practice, the sites of Rome and southern Italy that were painted, and the delicate balance that existed among realism, memory and imagination. A rich selection of representative paintings is discussed and reproduced. The book is the catalogue for an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Landscapes are the most popular artistic subjects. Painters want to capture the scenery bathed in natural light outdoors. They paint en plein air or "in the open air." This French term describes how the Impressionist painters worked. Their love of gardens, parks, and the countryside brought the creation of art from inside their studios to the great outdoors.

Artists today look for interesting scenes to paint while enjoying the pleasure of sitting outside at an easel on a beautiful day. Plein Air competitions recognize this love of nature and have become popular for professional and hobby artists alike. When art lovers attend a show of the finished pictures, it makes for a great art event for all.

A typical Plein Air competition is open to painters who work in several media. Competitive categories for watercolor, acrylic, and oils are the norm. The Plein Air event will define a specific geographic area for the painters, but each painter may choose his subject within that area.

Items to bring along with you:

Fingerless gloves
A fold-up chair
Something to drink
Insect repellent
A bag for trash
A camera

Plein Air Painters Checklist

A competition may find several artists setting up their easels in the same place. Itís fascinating to see different interpretations of the same scene. But artists often look for unique subject matter, and part of the fun of a Plein Air contest is discovering each artistís subject choice and unique vision. Art collectors can talk to the artists at each show. Buying a Plein Air winner is a great way to acquire art!

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff