Painting Outdoors / Plein Air
Last year’s plein air workshop was quiet an experience for everyone involved, and proved that outdoor painting is more than just another day at the easel – but an adventure! Mike and his class spent the bulk of their time painting at The Goat Farm. The weather was beautiful bringing creative energies out of folks that didn't know existed. It comes with the territory, and at times works to an artist’s advantage. We’re excited to see what this year holds and where Mike takes us!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started painting.
I was raised in Alexandria Virginia. My dad was a photographer for National Geographic Magazine and my mother was a watercolor painter so I’ve drawn or painted most of my life. It came pretty naturally.
You travel quite a bit; does this fuel your creative drive?
I'm a bit of a gypsy and love to stay on the move. I get bored painting the same things for too long. Capturing the vibe of a place, its light, its rhythms and colors is my goal; then trying to put that into a two dimensional statement of how the place makes me react, that’s what I'm after. The travel is just as important as the painting!
It sounds like traveling is your inspiration. What’s your favorite location to paint?
I love Key West Florida. The tropical colors and vibe of the island re-charge my creative batteries. There is no shortage of light bouncing off water, sand, and boats – my favorite subject matter!
What are some of the challenges to painting outdoors that may not be obvious?
The energy of being outside painting cannot be duplicated in any other way. But that brings its own set of challenges. Things that could stifle creativity (if allowed) before you even set up the easel are: finding a location near easy parking, such things as rest room choices once you’re set up, will people run you off (ie. call the cops on you for trespassing) cars and trucks blocking your view during the painting, pedestrians talking to you during the painting, feeling like you’re 'in the way'. All these things can be distracting to the outdoor painter but also add to the drama of getting something good out there.
When Mike isn’t painting…
What can students expect from your plein air workshop?
In my workshops I stress the foundational aspects of painting. In other words what any representational painter would need to know to make a good painting. Then I throw in practical time tested tips for painting in the plein air environment, like simplifying, narrowing scope to attain a good focal point, values mastery, and tips for getting good clean color. All things any painter of any style, or genre would need to make a great painting.
How is your plein air workshop experience different from the others out there?
I bring common sense simplicity to the process and convey the idea that plein air can be enjoyable and not frustrating like most have encountered in the past.
Check out Mike’s blog here.
For questions, more information, or registration please contact the BINDERS Education Office at 404237-6331 ext. 203 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Jacob Gunter