Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Painting Plein Air in an Artist's Garden

During the milder months I paint plein air (in the open air, outdoors) with a group called PAPTIR (Plein Air Painters of the Thousand Islands Region). We usually meet at various locations every other week. These locations are always beautiful and most offer very different subject matter from what I would normally choose to paint. I have far from mastered the art of painting plein air. Truthfully, I just had a long talk with myself that went something like this: "You are painting a studio painting instead of the essence of plein air. Broaden your view and include the mood of the landscape and location. Stop closing in on your favorite elements. Step back." Good advice in designing a garden as well, now that I think of it.

As an example, the featured painting this month Unfurling Ferns I painted plein air a few weeks ago. But this view is tiny and close up, and should not have been the focus of my painting that day. I do not typically paint landscapes and this is my problem. I prefer objects, close up views. My real dream is to paint my own garden (once I build it to the point where I have lots of subject matter), and so I am drawn to foliage, flowers. Thus, I chose to paint ferns – close up – something that I have been wanting to paint. Much more difficult than I imagined, I might add. I will need to attempt ferns again in the studio with more study.

The location where we painted was a country home that belongs to a very talented artist and extremely gracious host. The grounds offer beautiful views and gardens. I took many photos for future studio paintings. Anyway, the locations where we paint are so beautiful and inspiring I think I should share them with you.

Cattle bones found on the property and now are part of this garden wall.
View from inside the gazebo.
Astrantia, Masterwort
Bird nest sculpture made by the artist.
Eryngium, Sea Holly
With inspiration like this, I really must strive to achieve more with my painting and garden. Hope you are inspired as well.


  1. aloha,

    what a special place and venue for artists, i belong to a group also here in hawaii and its wonderful to share our gardens and the outdoors for inspiration...great post

  2. Lovely photos. Some actually made me catch my breath.

  3. I love the watercolor of the ferns! You are very talented. I think the photo with the red chairs would make a wonderful watercolor, too.

  4. I think I'd like a seat in those red chairs under a tree! I can see why you find this garden inspirational. One of my favourite pictures is the simple pile of rocks. I think you did a great job with capturing the fern in watercolor. The cool blue accents in the artwork are really nice.

  5. Wonderful to have a plein-air group Kathy! I try to form one this year but it was so hot and we just could not all get together. I want to join another group but have to feel stronger. I love your work and think there must be lots to paint in your garden now . . . just as it is. Would love to see them. Beautiful photos of a lovely garden.


Thank you for joining me in my garden in the making!

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