Thursday, May 14, 2009

Painting outdoors

On location at Pantai Pasir Tengkorak, Langkawi, 2006

The French have an expression, en plein air which means "in the open air" that describes the act of painting outdoors.

Many of the Impressionist artists in mid-19th century painted under natural light because they wanted to study the effects of light and capture the fleeting scene.

Several developments in the art scene at that time facilitated this trend greatly. One was the introduction of tube paints which meant that ready-made paints were available to be carried around. Previously, each artist would have to grind up pigment powders in bowls and make them into paint mixtures before using them.

The second development that made plein air painting more popular was the invention of the French Box Easel which was essentially a portable box the size of a briefcase that opened up into a proper easel, complete with paintbox and palette.

Plein air painting poses a whole new challenge to me. I have to work fast, so much so that the final product looks "unfinished" due to the rough and loose strokes and patches of colour.

I suppose this is the "controversy" that Monet's paintings brought about among his peers who, at the time, painted in their studios and whose "traditional" works were very detailed.


karmatrix said...

Question; Why are tey called the Impressionists?
Zainal, I thought it's because of the rough and loose strokes that these paintings were deemed "Impressionist"? Is that true, that this style kind of 'forced' the viewer to tkae a impression from the results?

Zainal said...

The name impressionism derived from the title of a Claude Monet work, Impression, Sunrise which provoked an art critic to coin the term in a review published in Le Charivari. Yes, the rough and loose strokes...