Plein Air studies importance

It's nice and sunny outside which means it's the perfect time to do some plein air sketches and studies! The French term 'plein air' means out of doors and refers to the practice of painting entire finished pictures out of doors. I believe it is crucial for artists of all levels to go outside and do sketches and studies in nature for several reasons:

  • Observation and Perception. Nature provides a vast array of subjects, landscapes, and organic forms that can enhance our observational and perceptual skills. By sketching or studying nature, artists can closely observe the intricacies of the natural world, such as the play of light and shadow, the textures and patterns, the colors and shapes. This deep observation helps train the our eyes to capture details that might otherwise go unnoticed and also let go of things that are not in focus.
  • Understanding Form and Proportions. Nature is an abundant source of diverse forms, from trees and flowers to animals and geological formations. By studying these natural subjects, artists can develop a better understanding of form, structure, and proportions. This knowledge is essential for accurately representing objects in our artwork, whether it's still life, landscapes, or figurative work.
  • Capturing Authenticity and Atmosphere. Sketching or painting outdoors allows artists to capture the essence and atmosphere of a particular location or moment. Being present in nature enables us to experience its sights, sounds, smells, and even the weather conditions, which can contribute to creating more authentic and evocative artwork. This connection with nature can bring a sense of vitality and freshness to our artistic expressions.
  • Enhancing Technical Skills. Nature can present various challenges to artists, such as capturing movement, dealing with changing light conditions, or depicting complex textures. By practicing in outdoor settings, we can refine their technical skills, such as quick sketching, gestural drawing, plein air painting, and the ability to work efficiently and adapt to changing conditions. These skills can translate into improved overall artistic proficiency.
  • Inspiration and Creativity. Nature has long been a powerful source of inspiration for artists (me including). Its beauty, diversity, and ever-changing qualities offer a constant wellspring of ideas and creative stimulation. By immersing ourselves in natural environments, we can tap into our imagination, gain new perspectives, and discover unique subject matter or approaches that can infuse our artwork with freshness and originality.
  • Personal Connection and Well-being. Engaging with nature through art can foster a sense of connection, tranquility, and well-being. It provides an opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life, experience moments of solitude, and find solace in the serenity of natural surroundings. This connection with nature can have a positive impact on an our mental and emotional state, influencing our artistic process and the art we create.

So what are we waiting for? Let's get outside to do sketches and studies!
I'm putting together plein air summer group classes on Wednesday evenings, from 6:30-8:30 pm in Maple Ridge, and we are starting on June 7th.
You can find more information about these drop in classes here

If you have any questions, please email me at

I can't wait to inspire you to paint more!

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