In this freezing weather (for overseas members, Ireland is in the grip of a major freeze - and I'm not referring to the banks and forthcoming budget here), some members have turned their attention to painting outside in tricky circumstances - such as nocturnes and snow scenes. This leads to inevitable debate about what is and isn't 'Plein Air'. Is it okay to paint from the car? From the kitchen window? From memory? Or to finish off a painting back home because your fingers outside had no longer any feeling in them?
I have had some enlightening conversations with artists of differing opinions about this and read some discussion on this site on the subject. Some are dogmatic about everything being done on the spot and others take the pragmatic approach that the finished work is what matters, not where or how it was made. On a site like this one, dedicated to plein air painting, the policy is that finishing touches can be applied indoors but artwork posted has to be outdoor, or at least 'in situ'. Likewise, plein air events like Art in the Open have to take a stricter view than as artists, we might wish. When such events or organisations start speaking about percentages ('it must be 90% outdoors, or 'no more than 33% may be painted in the studio) I often wonder whether it is time, brush-strokes, talent, square inches or paint volume that the percentage is supposed to be measuring.
In this I am reminded how many times I have rescued a potential disaster of a painting in the final quarter of an hour and equally, I am proud to say I have now honed down to a mere 5 minutes the complete ruination of an hour and a half's work.
I'm not sure any of this is worth worrying about but I wanted to share an article (CLICK HERE)
worth reading if you are in any way interested in this particular debate.
For what its worth, I ought to declare that, personally, I really enjoy painting outside, especially on a paint-out with friends and have learned to realise how poor photographs generally are as source material but I don't see intrinsic merit in work made either outdoors or studio. If you do a better painting from the comfort of your car, or studio window, then, for me, that is a compelling reason. But in specific circumstances (such as Plein Air events, or on this website) I accept there are 'rules'.