by Rick Evans
44 Ashland Gallery Guide
to depict. What to leave in, what to
take out as they compose a small
“thumbnail” sketch of shapes and
values, areas of dark and light, and a
“center of focus” designed to take the
viewer’s eye throughout the painting.
With this accomplished, a portable
easel, perhaps a French easel or
tripod with a pochade box attached,
is set up to support a stretched
canvas or wood panel, paint palette,
brushes, containers of medium to
extend the paints and solvent for
cleaning brushes, everything is ready.
Working quickly and without paying
attention to details, block in the
darkest and lightest areas before the
light changes too drastically.
This is plein air painting.
The practice of painting en plein air
has experienced a resurgence across
the country in recent years. Unlike the
controlled environment of the studio,
painting outdoors in the natural light
presents many challenges to the artist:
hot sun, rain, wind, and those little
pesky flying critters, not to mention the
“...block in the darkest
and the lightest
areas before the light
changes too drastically.
This is plein air
“En plien air”
of or relating to
in natural light.
he first rays of sunlight are
just peeking over the treelined
mountain tops, turning
the sky and its thin, wispy
cirrus clouds pink, orange and yellow,
ascending into a pale green and ever
lightening cobalt sky. The moment
is fleeting as the sun comes up over
the treetops, spotlighting distant
peaks and tops tall pines leaving a
deep cool shade on the western side
of the hills and casting long shadows
across the meadow that runs down
to the edge of the mountain lake that
spreads out before you. Reflections in
the calm waters of the lake mirror the
colors and shapes of the morning sky,
mountains and forest that surround
you. A flock of Canada geese flies
gracefully over the lake, their calls
announcing their presence.
Looking out over the scene described
above, the first challenge for the
artist is to choose the view they want
Donna Clark of
ponders the light.
Photos by Rick Evans