“En Plein Air” is a French term meaning “in open air”. Since the mid-19th Century and the advent of portable painting supplies like the paint tube and “box” easels, artists have taken to the outdoors. The Plein Air movement brought artists out of their studios and into the natural light. It birthed a new type of artist who recorded everyday scenes of life in the colors and light that nature provided and offered artists a new way to approach their painting process. The stiff formality and romanticism of the studio gave way to this entirely new concept resulting in the Impressionism Movement.
Painters such as Monet, Pissarro and Renoir took to the outdoors using colors and brush strokes that captured sparkling natural light. Works by these artists and others will be on display at The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Impressionism and Post-Impressionism from the High Museum of Art, an exhibition that will be on display from February 16th through May 6th. Today, plein air painting is enjoying a resurgence. Like the Impressionist masters, open air artists study and paint the light as it appears under different weather conditions and at different times of day. The Cummer will feature plein air artists during Garden Week at the Community Day on March 17 between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Additionally, the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens will host a Plein Air Painting Invitational, “A Brush With Nature” March 29 – 31. Thirty-six of the finest plein air artists that Florida has to offer will set up their easels and spend three days capturing the trails and creeks, the lily pond and its reflections, and all the spectacular flora and fauna experienced at the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens. As we move into spring, now is a wonderful time to get outdoors and experience something new. Visit the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens to view work by the original plein air artists and then meet and observe today’s plein air artists following in the footsteps of Monet at both the Museum and the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens.