PleinAir Magazine April/May 2020

Get your PleinAir Magazine digital subscription today and join tens of thousands of artists and collectors who have joined a new plein air movement. Rooted in a deep history, each bi-monthly issue, edited by Kelly Kane, chronicles important events and spotlights today’s master artists, their techniques, the collectors who follow them, as well as the historic artists who came before them.

United States
Streamline Publishing
$7.98(Incl. tax)
$42.64(Incl. tax)
6 Issues

in this issue

1 min
plein air heritage

Colorado’s first female resident artist, Helen Henderson Chain (1849–1892), was born in Indianapolis and studied with Hudson River School painter George Innes before moving to Denver with her husband, James. There, they helped establish the Chain & Hardy Bookstore, which would eventually become the city’s first art gallery and publishing house. Converting a back room of the store to a studio, she taught art classes and sold supplies. Rather than paint the ladylike florals and still life paintings expected from women artists of her day, she preferred to tackle the rugged Colorado landscape en plein air. Dressed in corsets and long skirts, she scrambled up the area’s most notable peaks, art supplies in tow, becoming the first non-native woman to summit the 14,000-foot Mount of the Holy Cross. A true pioneer,…

3 min
sharing plein air

Last year at the Plein Air Convention & Expo, I highlighted the history of plein air painting, presenting my research showing that paint and brush (not just drawing) were used on location, outdoors, as far back as the late 1500s, even before Rembrandt’s time. And, though the Impressionists are given credit for popularizing plein air, the biggest credit goes to the Russians. On my recent trip to Russia, I filmed a documentary, interviewing top Russian art experts — artists, museum directors, art historians, directors of the two great art academies, and others. And in the course of our conversations, each of them said something we would rarely, if ever, hear from professionals in the United States: plein air painting is an important part of Russian art history and the curriculum for…

2 min
for the love of nature

In the time before cell phones and social media, painters introduced broad audiences to the unique and impressive features of the American landscape, playing an integral role in fanning the flames of the early environmental movement. In the 19th century, the artists of the Hudson River School became famous for their paintings of glorious trees, tranquil lakes, and towering mountains. Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran painted many of the West’s scenic highlights, including the Rocky and Sierra Nevada mountains, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon. Around the same time, Frederick Law Olmsted, who was active in the early conservation movement, emerged as the father of landscape architecture, designing many iconic parks, including Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and Central Park in New York. Through their work, these pioneers helped popularize a…

3 min
mountain majesty

When faced with the austere grandeur or rolling silhouettes of these natural wonders, what landscape painter could not find kinship with the naturalist John Muir, who once proclaimed, “the mountains are calling, and I must go”? Lured by the same call of the wild, the 15 artists featured here drew inspiration from a range of spectacular views — from snowy peaks and craggy sierras to verdant slopes and vibrant mesas. “The town of Telluride, Colorado, sits at the end of a box canyon with an iconic waterfall that feeds the river on the valley floor,” says Susan Lynn. “In the early morning, the rising mist from the river burns off very slowly as the sun rises beyond the mountains. I found it a wonderful challenge to stand on the valley floor…

25 min
in the field: a female perspective

Roughly half of today’s visual artists are female, but women remain grossly underrepresented in museums, galleries, teaching positions, and at award ceremony podiums. To highlight this issue, the National Museum of Women in the Arts revived its #5WomenArtists social media campaign, challenging users to name five female artists off the top of their heads, as part of its annual celebration of Women’s History Month in March. Most found it impossible. Why? Artist and professor Joan Semmel has an idea. “If there are no great celebrated women artists, that’s because the powers that be have not been celebrating them, not because they are not there.” I was fortunate recently to talk to seven prominent artists — Suzie Baker, Jane Hunt, Shelby Keefe, Brienne Brown, Brenda Boylan, Lyn Boyer, and Kim VanDerHoek. They…

1 min
safety first

“Common sense is your best friend. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and do not listen to music. You need to be able to hear approaching vehicles, animals, or people.” — Shelby Keefe “I always carry a big can of bear spray, as well as large orange traffic cones, which I set out if I’ve pulled off onto the shoulder of a road to paint. I also have a small battery-operated perimeter alarm that I can set on the ground behind me that will chime if a person or animal approaches.” — Lyn Boyer “Unfortunately, as in the rest of life, it’s safer for us to travel in groups.” — Jane Hunt “If you do go out alone, tell someone where you are going and about how long you intend to…