Friday, August 14, 2015

How Long HaveYou Been Painting En Plein Air?

6x8 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available - $100 unframed

"How long have you been painting en plein air?" is a question students sometimes ask me at workshops.  Short answer:  The summer of 1999.  I took a one-day pastel workshop, which entailed a session of painting from life outdoors.  (Coincidentally, that was also my first exposure to pastel.)    I was immediately hooked.  I didn't want to be in the studio anymore.  From that point forward, I painted almost exclusively outdoors for many years.

"Spruce" - in process in the field
Art Cocoon in use!

But that wasn't my first exposure to painting outside.  I started in college, at the University of Georgia in Athens.  A friend across the hall at my dorm was an amateur painter, and one day he invited me to take my paintbox out.  We drove to and then hiked into the university's vast botanical gardens.  We set up along the shadowed banks of the muddy Oconee River.  I don't know what happened to that first plein air painting, but I remember I liked the experience very much.

Behind the Barrier Beach, Fog
9x12 pastel by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available - $150 unframed

How many of you remember your first plein air painting outing?  I'd love for you to share your memories in the comments.

Eastern Head
9x12 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available - $150 unframed

On another note, I just finished up another workshop this week.  I had students from Florida, New York City and Maine.  Despite the fog, we had a great time and did some good painting.  I've sprinkled some photos of mine throughout this post.

Spring Tide
6x8 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available - $150 unframed

By the way, I am eager to get more students for my first two workshop weeks in Sedona.  I have openings for the October 27-30 and November 3-6 sessions.  For details or to sign up, please visit

Bold Coast Cliff
9x12 pastel by Michael Chesley Johnson

Not a painting!  But a pretty picture nevertheless.

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