Are all the Instagram posts of your backyard starting to look the same? Finding it difficult to photograph the afternoon light just perfectly? Perhaps it’s time to take a page from some of the world’s first outdoor influencers, who were able to capture the essence of a landscape in just a few thoughtful strokes. Well.. maybe more than a few. I’m, of course, talking about renowned artists such as Claude Monet, Winslow Homer, or Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
A number of landscape artists have dabbled in, or even mastered, what is known as En Plein Air art, and although it may sound fancy, it simply means outside. It is the concept of painting, drawing, or creating any work of art fully outdoors. As weather conditions change, so does light, shade, and color within a scene. En Plein Air artists do their best to capture these dramatic differences in their ever-changing outdoor paint sessions.
The practice became a popular style in the 1830s when artists, more specifically French artists, wanted to accurately depict landscapes in different weather conditions. From France, the En Plein Air movement crossed to the U.S., starting in California and spreading further east as time went on. The movement really took off in the 1840s when more suitable supplies for painting outside became widely available. Paints in tubes meant that artists didn’t need to grind and mix their own pigments while outside. Luckily for us, the tools for painting and creating art outside have only gotten more and more portable over the years.
If you’ve ever seen someone painting on an easel outdoors, you’ve seen an En Plein Air artist! Although it may seem like something that takes a lot of effort and planning, becoming an En Plein Air artist is not out of reach for any of us. If you or your family members are looking for something new to do, I challenge you to create some En Plein Air art. This can be done in the comfort of your own backyard, or you can bring your tools to a favorite nature spot to capture its beauty.
Before heading out to create your piece of art, there are a few important things to remember. The first being your tools. For an En Plein Air artist, the tools are VERY important. The right set of equipment and preparedness can make or break the day. Nobody likes to get to their worksite and find out they’ve forgotten to bring their set of colored pencils, or aren’t dressed appropriately for the weather.
The first question to ask yourself when getting ready is, what type of art are you going to create? A painting? A sketch? A crayon landscape? Once you’ve decided here are a few things to think about:
After addressing all of these questions, you can start putting together a supply bag, or even a supply suitcase, with everything you will need for the day. Keep in mind that once you are outside, depending on where you go, it may be difficult to get any needed supplies that are forgotten. Finally, you are ready to create your En Plein Air art! Head outdoors and start capturing. Be sure to keep in mind the light, shade, and color that you are seeing, as those are the three aspects of a landscape that En Plein Air artists feel truly grasp the essence of a specific scene.
Although it is a little different than the normal Instagram post, we would love to see what you create! If you feel that you’d like to share your work, be sure to tag us on Instagram (@SheepPasture) and Facebook (NRT’s Sheep Pasture) so we can enjoy the wonderful scenes our community members depict!
NRT's dedicated staff are responsible for the content of the NatureTalk blog. Questions? For more information on any blog post, please contact us at any time.