These eight painters hail from Philadelphia, but their work captures scenes all along the seaboard near that city. 

Eight students and alumni of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts are showing 35 of their plein air pieces at the Newark Arts Alliance in Newark, Delaware, now through the end of January. The exhibition is called “Philadelphia Plein Air Painters,” and that is also the name of the group of artists represented.

“Old Tree Plein Air,” by Michael Cole Manley, oil on panel, 16 x 20 in.

“Although each artist has their own individual voice and painting style, the group’s work as a whole shares a common passion for careful observation of color and light, as well as preservation of the academic painting tradition in contemporary realism,” says Michael Cole Manley, one of the founders of the group.

“Wilmington Skyline,” by Jen Polillo, oil, 12 x 12 in.

The group paints in Downtown Philly; in Wilmington, Maryland; in Atlantic City; and further inland, where Pennsylvania presents the rich landscapes that inspired N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, and a host of other past and contemporary masters. Manley told us about the conditions surrounding one of his pieces in the show, “Old Tree Plein Air.”

“Atlantic City Coastline,” by William Sentman, gouache, 3 x 5 in.

“When I started the painting it was nice and sunny — then suddenly the clouds came in,” he recalls. “I could see that maybe they would move or open back up, so I planned to wait for the sun to hit the right spot on the tree and then raced as fast as I could — yet still being accurate — to catch the sunlight hitting the old hollow and make the painting.”


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