Monday, September 5, 2011

Calistoga Art Center Plein Air Paintout

Jim Hour painting at our Acrylic Painting class field trip at Judy's house, 2010
The Calistoga Art Center is planning its first plein air paintout – October 7–9, 2011.

(Its what?) The term "plein air," pronounced "plenn air,"is french for painting outdoors. "Painting en plein air" means painting in the open air. It's different from painting in the studio. You have the elements to think about (heat, wind, cold, rapidly changing light, inclement weather) and none of the comforts of the studio as you work. But you also have the great outdoors – you are right smack dab in the middle of the scene that's inspiring you.

Claude Monet painting in his garden, from short film, Impressionists Live, on YouTube
Plein air painting was difficult until the invention of tube paints in the 1870s – and the invention of the French easel, which allowed one to carry the easel off the beaten path and set up outdoors (the wooden easels you see in these photographs are French style easels). In France, the Barbizon School and the French Impressionists began what has become a painting tradition.

Diana, Sharon, and Anitra, painting in last week's Acrylic Painting class field trip
We're lucky that in California we have such good weather – so it may not surprise you to learn that California (the Bay Area, the Central Coast, and Southern California) has been a hotbed of plein air painting for over a hundred years.

Victoria painting in last week's Acrylic Painting class field trip
And with the beauty of the vineyards in the autumn, we'll have lots of beautiful spots to choose from for this paintout.

So what's a paintout?

A paintout is a competition and show (but for us, it also will be an excuse to get out into the vineyards and do some serious brushwork). You begin on Friday, and get your canvases, panels, or papers stamped on the back (that's to make sure you haven't gotten a head start). Then you have two days to paint, en plein air, and you turn your painting, or paintings, in on the second day. On the third day, everyone comes to the show, and you celebrate. Fun, eh?

Sharon painting in last weeks Acrylic Painting class field trip
Most well-known paintouts draw professional painters from all over the country, and participation is juried. But this is a first for Calistoga, so everyone who wants to be a part of it is welcome. Does it appeal to you? You can learn more at the Calistoga Art Center website. There's a $25 fee for participating if you sign up by September 15th – after that it's $35 – so sign up soon!

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