Plein air painting, study

Plein air painting is a process of painting outdoors in order to reproduce the subject matter of a painting in its natural light and air environment. The term "study" is directly related to the plein air painting: study is a piece of art done in preparation for a finished piece. A study is usually drawn from nature.


Early in the 19th century an English painter John Constable created his landscape studies from nature, aiming at catching and depicting weather and atmosphere changes in his work, but paintings themselves were created in his workshop. In the middle of the 19th century plein air painting became popular among landscape-painters of Barbizon school and English Impressionists, who tried to reflect the current state of nature in their works. As a matter of convenience, they created quite small paintings, that could be created within 2-3 sessions and, if necessary, finished in a workshop. Thanks to French Impressionists, C. Monet, C. Pissarro, O. Renoir and other artist who painted only from nature trying to chase the transience of nature in certain light, plein air painting got its new lease of life. They practiced a new non-ordinal technique of translating highlights, shades and reflected lights by using a combination of warm and cool colors. Their art was much-critised by the public of that time. Claude Monet did a great contribution to the development of plein air painting. When creating the Poplar series of paintings in 1891, Monet had to compete with nature itself. The artist was creating his paintings on a few easels on the bank of the Epte River, running from one to another trying to chase colors of nature, that were constantly changing depending on time and weather. Since the end of the 19th century and up to nowadays plein air painting plays an important role in the art studies. Nowadays plein air painting still remains popular among landscape-artists. Get an overview on contemporary plein air landscapes and even buy the one you like you can in our online catalogue. An interesting fact is that only since the advent of plein air painting paints has begun to be produced in tubes – before that artists had to prepare their paints in workshops.


A bright example of en plein air paintings are Impressionism paintings.  Thanks to impressionists, a study created en plein air managed to develop into an independent painting. Their goal was to present reality the way they saw it. For its sake they stepped away from traditional painting rules and created their own method involving reflecting impressions from highlights, shades and reflecting light on objects with the help of separate brushstrokes of pure color. This method gave an impression of dissipation in light and aerial perspective.