PleinAir Magazine Oct/Nov 2017

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

Ben Benn (1884-1983) Given his interest in modern art forms like Cubism and Abstract Expressionism, it is a bit surprising that Ben Benn would paint an artist at work outdoors on the depiction of a nude model. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what he did with this imaginary scene, painted when the artist was 84 years old. It raises the question of whether Benn was watching another painter or remembering himself as a younger and more virile man who enjoyed painting nude models. Benn was a pioneering American modernist who never completely abandoned recognizable subject matter, even while he was being strongly influenced by abstract painting movements. His oil paintings were never completely non-objective during decades when there was a strong prejudice against any form of representation. Despite his independence, the artist was a…

3 min
a life-changing experience

Crisp and formerly colorful fall leaves are crunching under my feet as I walk on the edge of an old Russian village. Two grayhaired ladies are staring at me suspiciously and murmuring in a language I can’t even begin to understand. They are dressed just like something out of the movies — scarves over their heads, worn shoes with holes, and faded old dresses covered by colorful aprons. Curious, they wonder what this stranger is about to do as I pull my tripod out of my torn and worn old backpack. The golden afternoon sun is glowing and casting orange light on the sides of an old red clapboard house, one of many houses painted in vibrant colors in this little country village. These decorative old Russian dachas are vibrating with…

2 min
the 10 best plein air sites

I was asked by the travel editor of a national publication to identify the top 10 painting locations favored by plein air artists. I immediately asked my friends on Facebook what their choices would include, and I received hundreds of recommendations. I also heard from artists who objected to the very idea that the selection of popular painting locations was relevant to the creation of art. Artist Stuart Shils wrote, “Not only is there no answer to [the] question, but the question itself totally misses the point that those places are wherever an artist happen to be standing.” I weighed all that advice and decided 1) the article would bring national attention to plein air painting and to the 10 artists whose paintings would be reproduced; and 2) announcing my list of…

1 min
henry ward ranger (1858-1916)

The American artist Henry Ward Ranger studied in Europe, and when he returned to the United States in 1888, he began to exhibit with members of the National Academy of Design (NAD), the American Watercolor Society, and the Society of American Artists. In the summer of 1899, Ranger became one of the founders of the late Barbizon art colony at Old Lyme, Connecticut, that centered around the Florence Griswold house. As this photograph of Ranger shows, he was a devoted plein air painter and often taught others to work outdoors directly from nature. Ranger’s most important association was with the NAD, a prestigious organization of artists (and, later, architects) that elected him to be a full academician in 1906. He generously showed his support for the NAD and started a program…

5 min

Trees are an essential element of almost every landscape painting, and they present challenges to plein air painters who determine their shape, scale, coloration, value, and atmosphere. Here is a selection of such paintings, along with commentary by some of the artists who created the images. My interest in trees as a subject for painting and drawing almost always begins with a simple intuitive attraction to a visual experience. After this initial interest, I do several small thumbnail sketches to define an idea for a composition and to gain an awareness of the particular visual characteristic that I would like to express and focus on (color, tonality, light, harmonious shapes, scale, movement). These preliminary studies often determine whether or not I will decide to do a drawing or a painting. Drawings tend…

8 min
gradually building to vibrancy

It’s a rookie mistake to end up with a pastel painting that is unintentionally garish, but it’s an understandable one. One of the prime attractions of painting is playing with beautiful, vibrant color. And pastels offer — even encourage — the chance to pick up a bright yellow stick and put down a mark. But students of pastel soon learn that the strength of a good pastel painting is in its subtle passages and overall structure. Jane McGraw-Teubner’s Ramsdam Bridge, AM is a good example of how to do it right. The viewer’s eye is immediately struck by the rising sun reflecting in the water, and the backlit bush. But without the strong supporting cast, these highlights would not be nearly as powerful. McGraw-Teubner placed the highlights on the backlit bush and…