While Cynthia Rosen has a background in making non-objective art in New York City, she developed a passion for painting outdoors when she moved to Vermont. “Painting in the field to limitless color, ever-changing light, and the sound of a spinning world engages and challenges both perceptions and expression,” Rosen says. “No sooner do I embark on one path when the road turns, introducing new sights and inspirations, broadening my visual vocabulary with no end in sight.”
Rosen’s plein air painting “As the Day Rests” (above) recently won an Honorable Mention in the Borrego Art Institute’s Plein Air Invitational. Captivated by her landscape paintings, I invited her to share with us some of her general tips for painting outdoors. Keep scrolling to reading her painting advice, and click here to learn how to paint expressive landscapes with a palette knife.
Advice for Painting Outdoors
By Cynthia Rosen
Above all you need to stay safe as well as be fully prepared for variable weather and light conditions, It is great if you are able to go out with another painter, but if that is not an option, consider safety your first priority. Plein air painting is painting outdoors in full exposure to the environment, so having proper equipment is a must.
Set goals for yourself in terms of what you want to learn and accomplish. Beyond that you want to be aware of light conditions. For example, consider if you’re in search of a sunrise or sunset, when your light conditions may only last perhaps 10 minutes. If you go out closer to the middle of the day, the light changes may not be as interesting but are also not as drastic.
If you have a good handle on drawing and painting basics (understanding composition, perspective, color, etc.), it is wonderful to pursue a traditional reflection of the beauty of the great outdoors; but it is also wonderful to pursue the freedoms that our country and era allow you; that is, to discover your own personal form of reflection and interpretation of what you see.
Painting en plein air does not bind you to a specific style of painting. If it did we would never have been gifted with the richness of the Impressionists. Painting en plein air only dictates finding your inspiration in the outdoors, so enjoy the challenge and your search. ~Cynthia
WATCH > Cynthia Rosen: Expressive Landscape Painting – Palette Knife in Plein Air
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Excellent insights and advice. I recently took a workshop from Cynthia, and she’s a terrific teacher. I highly recommend her workshops, even if you prefer to paint with a brush. She’s one of my favorite knife painters and plein air artists. Her knife paintings are jewels and each new one amazes me even more than the beautiful one before it. I love how her importance is in turning out a good painting, as opposed to trying to duplicate exactly what she sees in front of her. I have her DVD of knife painting, but I’d love a sequel.