Chris Morel demonstrating at a Redlands Conservancy fundraiser

Chris Morel lives in Taos, New Mexico, but he flew to California in mid-April to help out the Redlands Conservancy. Why? 

It’s true that his sister, Mary Ingram, asked him. She’s a member of the conservancy. But mostly, like the majority of plein air painters, Morel loves the land. “I was really happy to get involved in it,” says Morel. “They have this area called the Emerald Necklace — it’s a very beautiful place. It used to be an orange grove area. The Redlands Conservancy is trying to save a lot of these open spaces.”

The Redlands Conservancy paired a demonstration by Morel with a catered lunch to form a fundraiser. “It can be nerve-wracking, a demo, but I had a really good group of people. I was explaining why I am mixing a color or how I chose the particular scene to paint. I used a simple palette to show how I arrived at the colors, and explained value and composition. It opens eyes up to everything. I think that helps bring awareness of both land conservation and painting to the general public. All in all, it was just a really good thing. I was happy to volunteer my thing to a good cause and everyone seemed to like it.”

The view at Oakmont Park, where Morel demonstrated

Morel sounds like an officer in the Plein Air Force.

The artist says he scheduled a workshop in the Redlands area to maximize his trip. “It’s amazing what you can teach people,” says Morel. “When you instruct them and help them and explain it, it just takes the veil off and people go, ‘Oh my gosh, now I see how it works!’ It opens their heads incredibly. I get enormous pleasure out of bumping people up one level to the next. It’s a continuing process.”

Morel plans on continuing his work with the Redlands Conservancy as well. “They just loved it, and we are going to do it again,” he says.


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