What is 'en plein-air' ?

En plein-air is a French term that refers to a way of working first explored by John Constable, The Barbizon School and then consequently by the French Impressionists. Working with natural light and in-situ was central to the work of these artists so the term literally means 'in the open air' and is used to describe the act of painting outdoors.

"Plein-air is the centuries old tradition of taking your easel outside and confronting nature directly. This may not seem like a radical idea, but today most artists prefer to paint in the comfort of their air-conditioned, mosquito-free studios, from photographs or their own personal reality. The results are not the same. But more importantly, neither is the experience. When painting 'en plein-air', you're dealing with the elements - the wonders of nature, changing light, weather conditions, bugs, you name it. It's a spiritual adventure. It has as much in common with gardening, hiking or bird watching as it does with art. To the artist, the process is as important as the product"

                                                                                                                                                                                            Brian Stewart (American painter)

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