Plein Air

Plein air is a French expression which translates as ‘out of doors’. In art terms, Plein Air refers to the process of painting entire pictures from life whilst outside. Although artists had long painted outdoors, Plein Air Painting became more widely popular during the 19th Century due to a number of innovations and was fundamental in the Impressionism movement. Check out our article on 'Inventions that led to a Painting Revolution' to see what these innovations were. As working outside means coping with changeable light and the elements, scenes are usually captured in a short space of time.

Artists who are known for their Plein Air Painting include Van Gogh, Monet, Newlyn School Artist, Stanhope Forbes and Ken Howard RA who, in 2013, published a book of his paintings of the Alps inspired by Turner’s travels. The image shown is a section of ‘Artists Sketching in the White Mountains’ by American Artist, Winslow Homer.