Plein Air Is Where You Find It

April 7, 2010 · 0 comments

For some artists, working en plein air is a choice.

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For others, studio space is tough to carve out. For yet others, the visual input that calls out to be captured or explored or interpreted by oil paints or water colors or pencil can only be found at street level.

Where there is subject matter, you will find artists.

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The ability to see beyond what is easily overlooked by the rest of us is what counts.*

The generally agreed upon worthiness of the actual scene is of less importance.

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Comfort for the body and stimulation for the mind and diversion for the soul when you hit a “stop and think” spot… these are all necessary, but fairly easily procured.

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Some plein air artists will never return to the same spot twice…

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… while others believe that even if they wanted to, it would be impossible. For them, it’s the delta in light or temperature or what they’ve learned since yesterday that is the artistic problem to solve, today.

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Maybe artists are like scuba divers that way.

They know that the very act of showing up on the scene has already shifted it to something other than what it would have been if they weren’t there. They themselves become a feature of the location.

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This means that even if you were to return to fire hydrant #8 in San Francisco every day for thirty years, there would always be something new to paint. It’s all in how you look at it.


* I was curious to know what book this man was reading.

The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten By searching old dictionaries and glossaries, [Jeffrey Kacirk] has compiled words that appeal to him based on their sound (although there is no pronunciation guide), show either endearing or humorous aspects of their times, or illustrate customs. The result is this lark of a book, sure to appeal to all who love words and the sounds they make. In this Aladdin’s cave of vocabulary are words like “bouffage” (very satisfying), “ugsumness” (terribleness), “snirp” (shrink), and “maffle” (stutter).

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