– Bob Bahr reporting, Editor PleinAir Today –

When Jill Stefani Wagner went to sign the back of a nocturne painting she completed at the Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival, she discovered that her painting panel had served as a passport of sorts, chronicling all of her recent stops on the plein air circuit.

Lead Image: The many-stamped back of Jill Stefani Wagner’s recent nocturne painting

“I’ve always loved painting outdoors, but after visiting Door County Plein Air Festival about four years ago, I’ve become addicted,” says Wagner. “In each of the last couple of years I’ve participated in about six plein air events, including as faculty at the Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE). It’s been a wild whirlwind, but I love every minute of it and I have learned so much from all of the other artists that participate.

“Dexter DQ,” by Jill Stefani Wagner, 2016, oil, 9 x 12 in.
“Dexter DQ,” by Jill Stefani Wagner, 2016, oil, 9 x 12 in.

“Yesterday when I was signing the back of a nocturne painting from a recent festival, I realized that these linen panels have become almost a travel passport, with a stamp from each ‘country’ I have visited: Wayne, Finger Lakes, Great Lakes Bay, Brighton, Dexter, Seneca Lake…. I’ve traveled quite a bit around Europe, especially Italy, and the festival stamps just reminded me of the old imprints they used to put in passports, or the stickers people attached to their traveling trunks. It’s a bit nostalgic, I know. But when we’re on the road, plying our trade, we’re like those wandering travelers, with a wonderful history of the places we’ve visited stamped onto the back of our paintings.”

Wagner’s nocturne setup
Wagner’s nocturne setup

The well-traveled panel must have brought Wagner some good luck. On it she painted her very first nocturne, and you can see for yourself what kind of success she enjoyed. “The idea of painting a nocturne kind of scared me,” recalls Wagner. “My whole goal in painting had always been to capture the light, which to me meant sunlight. But when I broke the whole process down, painting what I saw instead of what I knew, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought.”

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