Plein air painting of people
Mark Fehlman, “Junior Lifeguard Boys,” 9 x 12 in.

An exclusive four-question Q&A with plein air painter Mark Fehlman, including how he stays inspired and motivated.

Plein Air Today: Why do you paint landscapes?
Mark Fehlman: I have always had a hard time selling my figurative work, but I continue to do it, because it makes me a better landscape artist. I love the fact that I am outdoors painting in the most beautiful places in the world, usually with great artist friends. People love to stop and engage in a conversation and you make a connection with admirers. Also, landscape gives me the greatest opportunity to design a composition that captures a moment in time, when nature is showing off its beauty.

My work is based on plein air studies. These 9×12 sketches are meant to gather and record color relationships, shape patterns, and dark/light relationships.

Plein air painting of a cove
Mark Fehlman, “La Jolla Cove Morning,” 16 x 20 in.

How does plein air compare to the studio?
They are two separate things. When I paint en plein air, I am gathering information and recording ideas. In the studio, I am designing and utilizing the fundamentals of building a great composition. In the studio, I am distilling the information that I gathered from the field.

How do you stay inspired / motivated?
I have no problem staying inspired and motivated. I paint with great artist friends. I travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world and I do something that makes people happy. I am blessed to have had two careers that are endlessly inspiring and motivating. I literally can’t wait to get up every morning to get painting.

How do you keep your students inspired and motivated?
I work really hard to give students tools and insights that will speed their progress. I have also found that if everyone is having fun and is confident, inspiration and motivation is no problem.

Mark Fehlman, “Urth Cafe,” 12 x 16 in.
Mark Fehlman, “Urth Cafe,” 12 x 16 in.

About the Artist
Mark Fehlman practiced as an architect for 35 years, as the design partner for the San Diego based firm, specializing in Health Clubs, Multi-plex Movie Theaters, Multi-Family Housing and Masterplanned Communities. Mark is equally comfortable in figurative and landscape subjects that feature strong composition, well defined value relationships and vibrant color.

He has won numerous awards in various shows and his work has been included regularly in the California Art Club “Gold Medal” show, the “On Location in Malibu” show at Pepperdine’s Weisman Museum, the “Tejon Ranch” show at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, and the Maynard Dixon Country Show in Utah. He is a signature artist member of the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association and an artist member of the California Art Club.

Preview Fehlman’s art video workshop “Design Strategies for Powerful Paintings” here:


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