What is Plein Air Painting?

Plein Air

Plein air painting is about leaving the four walls of your studio behind and experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. The practice goes back for centuries but was truly made into an art form by the French Impressionists. Their desire to paint light and its changing, ephemeral qualities, coupled with the creation of transportable paint tubes and the box easel—the precursor to the plein air easels of today—allowed artists the freedom to paint “en plein air,” which is the French expression for “in the open air.”

Sketches allow painters to improve the overall design of a painting and quickly capture color notes in the landscape. A plein air painter can also use photographs to help design a painting, though they usually come into play after the artist has left the outdoor painting site for the comforts of the studio. An artist often utilizes photographs to capture details—like the particular texture of grass or the shape of a river bend—but most painters stay away from using photographs for color and value indicators.

Today, plein air painting is a flourishing trend in our art world. Artists come together for “paint out” excursions, workshops devoted to the practice occur all year-round and coast to coast, and landscape painters are finding that plein air painting is as rewarding and powerful an experience as it was for the first plein air painters all those years ago.

About the instructor:

Jonathon Lee Shannon was born in Eden, NC on September 28, 1991. He spent most of
his adolescents growing up in North Carolina and spent his teen years in upstate New York
because it was his Mother’s military assignment. This move sparked his curiosity to travel and peaked his interest in the creation of art. After finishing high school, he attended community college until he decided whether to pursue a career in Art, Math, or Science. In the end, he chose Art and was accepted to attend Savannah College of Art and Design. One of his missions was to travel to each location and see the works of other great artist who came before him. He was the first painting student to attend all four SCAD campuses at Savannah, Atlanta, France, and Hong Kong. During his trips, he would fully immerse himself into these new environment to paint plein-air and capture the essence of the place with each stroke on the canvas. Each place brought in new elements and landscapes to study. This pushed him to practice new styles and techniques of the masters. He traveled to attend many of the available lectures, workshops, galleries and museums. This is when he started to alter his own methods and his own style began to take shape.
Over the years, Jonathon has used many combinations of styles to improve on his own
called Reverse Reality. He reverses organic forms into geometric shapes and manmade
(geometric) forms into organic brush strokes. After a lot of dedication and practice, a new form of art has emerged, Reversism.
At this time Jonathon is now a full-time Middle School Art Teacher in Fayetteville,
North Carolina, but purses art every chance he gets.

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