The Plein Truth
This is the final part of this series…
When a lively group of plein air painters on the Monterey peninsula, and beyond, decided to form a painting club back in the early 2000s, one of the discussions that came up was the definition of plein air. After all, if it was to be an association of plein air painters then one must, as an artist, meet basic requirements to join. There was a contingent of the group that felt very comfortable with the idea that an artist could work from photos or sketches that were done in the field to paint a painting in the studio, and would have the right to call the work “plein air”. The thinking was that the painting would have been “inspired” by the outdoors.
Others, most definitely those artists with several years of the outdoor experience mentioned above, were not ready to consider that an artist sitting pretty in their studio deserved to call themselves a plein air painter when they had not actually painted outdoors. That this was even in question shows how we humans can rationalize anything. In the end, the group incorporated with a set of rules that clearly stated that the work must be done outdoors and substantially completed outdoors.