Studio and Plein Air; Plein Air and Studio

“If I could say it with words, I wouldn’t have to paint”
— Edward Hopper

So, it is a bit of oxymoron for a painter to have a blog.

It is often that I find myself without words when trying to articulate matters of art. But when it comes to the balancing act of plein air work versus studio, I will try. It’s an important difference, and worth exploration.

The plein air life is, without a doubt, about the lifestyle. It’s about hiking in and setting up shop in some of the world’s most beautiful places and savoring them. When you snap a photo, you look. But when you paint from life, you study. Nature, they say, is the greatest teacher.

But it’s not always romantic. Just ask me what it’s like to be painting on Lake Michigan and have a southern wind blow in the black flies. Nothing but thick clothes or a tastier friend near by can fix that problem. The sun moves so fast, and the light and shadow changes. Your brush is bound to fall to the ground, adding more texture. Yay! 😳 But it’s worth it; it’s every bit worth it.

The studio is also a joy all its own. You go into your cave, so to speak, and you’re in a world of your own. The temperature, light and conditions are all controlled. It’s easy to focus. No flies that bite or harsh sun. You can contemplate the work sans sand. Make adjustments. It’s just really nice.

And so it goes that, for this painter, studio work could not exist without the study from life. One informs the other. But increasingly, I’m finding my interpretations — filtering the work through my own lens and interpreting what I see, with how I feel.

This time of year, it’s working outside that wins out more often than not. The studying from nature that brings a joy that is only matched inside the studio. Grateful for both.

If you’re a painter, I’d love to hear your thoughts on working indoors vs. outdoors. Or, if you have questions about studio vs. plein air painting, I’d love to hear those, too! Come on over to chat on Instagram and Facebook. I always enjoy meeting fellow art lovers virtually.

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