Plein Eire

Your Site For Artists Who Paint Outdoors

Meeting up to paint together is known as a 'paint-out'. It is a major part of what Plein Eire website is about and is of great benefit socially, educationally, professionally and in other ways. It is also good fun. At the start of 2012, several of the established groups here are already very active, arranging paint-outs, painting together and posting the results. However, there are still several 'cold spots' around this island not covered by any group; not everyone has a group nearby, or can get time to paint on the designated weekday their local group has adopted. This website aims to ensure that wherever you live, there will be an active plein air group you can join.

This discussion aims to set out a few observations about starting and maintaining a group and  different options available. It isn't intended to be prescriptive; there is no right and wrong and organisers of existing groups will be asked to contribute their experience to the debate as well as individual members.

                                            SEPA members on a paint-out to Passage East, County Waterford

What is involved.

A paint-out requires minimal arranging, just the basics. Someone should check that there are parking facilities and where is the nearest cafe or bar with toilet facilities. Check they will be open on the morning of the paint-out and tell them what is happening. Most are happy to let you use the washroom, especially if you meet up there for a coffee to begin the day or to round off and compare notes at the end. If there is nowhere for refreshments, members may want to bring a packed lunch. Directions are easy with Google maps.

Size Matters...?

There is nothing inherently good about a large group meeting. If two or three artists meet to paint and enjoy the experience it can be a more flexible, relaxed affair, easy to arrange with artists at a similar level of accomplishment. On the other hand, a larger group can gather a more interesting mix of painters, different styles to see, different levels to learn from and open up more possibilities to exhibit as a group, perhaps, or to find one or two painting companions who may be able to join you on other days.


"Democracy is the worst form of government with the exception of all the other forms that have been tried"

The nature of most of us is to be happy to let one person run things (as long as it isn’t me).  You may find a ‘benign dictator’ may be what works best and its almost always better than nothing. However, it isn’t ideal for any group to rely on the same person to call every meeting and decide where and when for each paint-out. Relying entirely on one person has obvious disadvantages, not least that that person may eventually lose interest or become unavailable and the whole group can collapse. Groups generally strive for a level of democratic structure and delegate tasks to widen the base of responsibility. 'Taking turns' to nominate a good venue, check out parking and the local pub or cafe and post the notices to Plein Eire is one simple way to achieve inclusiveness without having to have committee meetings for every decision. In practice, it may be four or five stalwarts taking turns and the rest 'go with the flow', but always keep asking and seeking feedback.


Be aware of your group’s entire catchment area and make sure to visit the different corners occasionally to cater for all members, eg. it isn't a good idea to call your group, ‘Leinster Plein Air Painters’, if you don’t intend to travel outside Wicklow. It is better to start small and expand or amalgamate than to occupy a role which can’t comfortably be fulfilled and perhaps smothering another group at the farther edges of your catchment area. An option might be to have different 'chapters' who get together on different weekends than the main group. Especially in the winter months when paint-outs tend to be shorter and the weather less reliable, then it can be more practical to meet in smaller, localised groups.

Recruiting members.

To find others interested in  plein air painting living near you, first run a search by county under the 'Artists' tab on Plein Eire. You could also post a notice, start a discussion or post a blog showing a couple of local spots and asking if anyone would like to join you painting there. Once you have a small group, If you know of an art club near where you will be painting, send the secretary an email to invite any interested members to join you for some outdoor painting. Have some business cards or even scraps of paper with your Plein Eire Group URL on them; often someone will see a couple of easels outside and approach you looking to join in next time.

When to meet?

Set up a regular day, perhaps the first Saturday of the month or every second Sunday after taking the views of your membership. Accept that you won’t please everybody. Some want to meet on Saturday, some on Sunday, some on mornings and some only when the sun is shining. At these meetings, if anyone feels like painting next week, or in a fortnight for a slightly less formal get-together, they can exchange contact details and make arrangements. 

Groups and Plein Eire Website.

Usually a paint-out will be announced under 'Events' and perhaps on the relevant Group page on Plein Eire. Encourage members to use the event's RSVP alert, so you have an idea who is coming. This also allows the co-ordinator for the day to cancel the paint-out following an adverse weather forecast by sending a single alert to all those attending. Everyone ought to check the Event page on the evening beforehand for confirmation that all's well. Add a Google map reference and a photo of the place you are going to.

It is easy to start a Group Page on Plein Eire and members may belong to more than one. Your group just needs a title and a logo or image. There is no minimum number of members a group may have. Groups may be 'Open' or 'Private' (whereby members must first be approved or invited by the Group Administrator). Most are 'Open' membership, without fees. But again, this is an individual choice. Of course, Groups may soon be starting which link members with a common interest, eg. Plein Air Pastels, Urban Plein Air etc. but that is not what is referred to here.

I hope this gets a discussion going as Plein Eire has had several enquiries from members across the country for fellow painters to paint with.

                                                                        And afterwards,..a pint o' plein is yer only man!

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Couldn't agree with you more. As a fully pledged member of the pebv art group whose aim it is to meet up come hail, rain ,or shine, every Saturday  can be daunting and yet exhilarating at the same time.Let me explain some more.............for those of us who have no sense of direction once we reach our gates[ that me ] and yet travel to some different parts of the country not knowing what to expect  scenery wise but knowing i will be around some wonderful like minded people who share a common bond makes the effort all worth while.As a group we try to encourage as many of our members to host an event, there by inviting us to their locality and we are forever looking for new sites to visit and new members to join.Were a very friendly group [ ask any one of us lol ] and have great craic both before the paint out and after when we are discussing the postmortem of the day and all other art related issues.By meeting on a Saturday also affords our members to partake in the Dublin Sketchers group and any other groups that happen to meet on a Sunday.So far we have visited and painted Malahide, loughcrew, Trim, Moynalty, Balbriggan, Old Bridge,Skerries, Solanaire, Slane, Tara, Bective Abbey, Laytown, to name but a few.So come on all you plein eire artists," have brush will travel" and join us any Saturday.Looking forward to meet you then. 

Hi Tony, in PEBV we seem to have developed a pattern of painting every Saturday and its working well. We hope to mount and exhibition soon in  Battle of the Boyne Centre. Dee has already told you that as far as possible a different member of the group hosts each paint-out based on their local knowledge and expertise.  So I'll just adde a few thoughts  -

  1. Google maps - they are useful to show where a location is but local knowledge is important - to inform about road closures, road works, free car-parks etc.
  2. You are quite right about groups starting small and then expanding.  I have a little worry about trespassing on the territory of other groups. What is the plein eire thinking on this?
  3. A thing I would really love is a forum for constructive criticism.  Perhaps when a member posts their photos they could indicate  in some predetermined way that they would welcome advice or not.
  4. That's a good idea about contacting local groups in the paint-out area.

Thanks for keeping us all together. Keep up the good work.

Good post Tony and food for thought indeed. You are quite right about the organizing paint outs of course anyone can do it and I guess anyone who thinks they are able should give it a try.I must keep that in mind myself this year.

Sally when on other forums where I post work, the format for inviting constructive criticism is to just post under the image " all C&C welcome ", maybe that would work here too. In my experience though many people are afraid to give it because they feel they may not know enough or they might offend the painter. I imagine it would be a little more difficult to offer a critique for a plein air work as the painting conditions would also have to be taken into account as distinct from a studio work where you were not cold or leaning into the wind or working fast to avoid the rain.... or even painting while holding an umbrella.

One of the biggest problems I would have with organizing a paint out would be location. Its all fine and well to visit lovely seaside villages and quaint towns, but some of the most beautiful scenery I have found for painting is really desperately remote from any convenience. I can just imagine how people would react when after traveling through a maze of tiny lanes to arrive at some forgotten paradise where you announce "Oh theres no running water or loo for eight miles and you'll have to park your car in the field as theres no room at the side of the road". Its really does put a limit on locations you can paint in as a group.

Thanks for all your work Tony.

Thankyou for this post Tony I agree with both your coments and kevins, It can be hard to garentee ameniteys and comfort, in the remoter areas. In the case of getting others to sugest places of intrest to other mambers seems to be difficult.A person with local knowledge shoudent feel afrade to offer there sugestions as one reason to become a member of a group is to find new places to go and paint, with other painters instead of always going out alone. So every group member should host a paint out in there local area to introduce it to others, be proude and show off what your areas has to offer. Thanks to all of you who has hosted a Paint out last year and in the year to come.

Just agreeing with the same sentiments this evening in a chat with Paddy Darigan. At this time of year, any ploughed field with a few sparse trees can make a great subject, but not necessarily a satisfactory venue for a group. Perhaps a good compromise is to paint in a group once or twice a month and fill in other weekends or odd days off by painting with one or two of your Plein Eire buddies or just on your own.

There's nothing finer than stopping off in the middle of nowhere when something takes your eye to paint and losing yourself for an hour or two. But then, some of the less confident members are always going to be wary of putting themselves in such a vulnerable position, so its not for everyone.

Thanks for taking my wish for constructive criticism on board, Kevin.  Please.what does C&C mean - other that Cantrell and Cochran.

Sally............its constructive Criticism.

Oh, thanks Dee.  Kevin has a & in between the two words.  Reckon its a typo.  Sorry Kevin.  Very stupid me.

Cantrell and Cochran...Cynicism and Compliments...Cobalt and Cerulean...Charcoal and Conte...Colourists and Constructivists...Comments and Criticism...... ;-)

Aaaaaaaaaaaah.  A & A - acknowledged and appreciated.

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