What is Plein Air Painting like in Ireland?

What Is Plein Air Painting?

Plein air painting is about leaving the four walls of your studio behind and experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. The practice goes back for centuries but was truly made into an art form by the French Impressionists. Their desire to paint light and its changing, ephemeral qualities, coupled with the creation of transportable paint tubes and the box easel—the precursor to the plein air easels of today—allowed artists the freedom to paint en plein air, which is the French expression for in the open air.

Artist Daily

Plein Air painters being painted en plein air. "Artists Sketching in the White Mountains" by Winslow Homer, 1868, oil painting.
Plein Air painters being painted en plein air. “Artists Sketching in the White Mountains” by Winslow Homer, 1868, oil painting.

Irish Plein Air

“In Ireland en plein air often means painting in the lashing rain. This doesn’t have to be a disadvantage; in fact, personally I find the opposite is true. To paint a mountain I like to stand in front of it. To paint a storm I like to be in the middle of it. Sure this means me and my canvas getting wet, but that’s when the happy-accidents start happening. More than that, I find the physical act of battling the elements manifests itself in the resulting picture. And if I’m out painting Mother Nature then why shouldn’t she have a hand the act of creation by making the paint run with rain or smear in the wind?” – Rod Coyne.

Irish Plein Air painting, Rod Coyne struggles to finish as the river rises below his boots!
Rod Coyne struggles to finish as the river rises below his boots!

Then and Now

Seascape by the grandfather of plein air painting, W.J.Turner.
Seascape by the grandfather of plein air painting, William Turner.

William Turner led the way in the late 1700’s and a century later the French Impressionists fell in behind, and made Impressionism into a recognised artform. These days it is considered an outdoor pursuit just like hiking and fishing. Some high-brow people might look down their noses at the masses picking up their paints and heading outdoors. But I have now time for any snobbery; I believe all who want to enjoy the meditative properties of creating en plein air should do so. It is a true form mindfulness to be stopped in one spot and studying the view before your eyes. It is in stark contrast to our hectic day-to-day and offers an undeniable form of relaxation therapy. And if you have a painting at the end of it, well, that’s a bonus, but it shouldn’t have to be the goal” – Rod Coyne.

Rod Coyne explaining painting techniques for working outdoors.

Why not try your hand with the Avoca Painting School

 

 

 

 

 

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