– Bob Bahr reporting, Editor PleinAir Today –

The observations one makes while painting en plein air never go to waste. Just ask painter Margaret Heydorn.

Lead Image: “Gazebo at Horseshoe Pond,” by Margaret Heydorn, 2016, oil on panel, 9 x 12 in. Heydorn painted this abstract piece over her plein air painting.

Heydorn painted a scene on location, but the piece just didn’t work for her. “I was very unhappy with a recent plein air painting, so when I got home I tried to fix it, got disgusted, and wiped it out,” says Heydorn. “It left a ghost image, which I decided to try to abstract. Now I’m happy.”

The scene and the plein air piece that didn’t sufficiently satisfy Heydorn
The scene and the plein air piece that didn’t sufficiently satisfy Heydorn

This isn’t the first time that Heydorn has transformed a representational piece into a more abstract one. “The one before made me very happy, too,” she says. “That first one came this past winter. It was a repeat of a more traditional Grand Central oil that did not come out as I envisioned it. So I tried it a second time by abstracting it. In both cases I wanted the viewer to still know what and where it was rather than have it serve as a true abstract painting. I wouldn’t call either of them easy to do, but in both abstract paintings I felt very free, happy, playful, relaxed, and intrigued as I was finding my way through the puzzle of shapes and color. My hope is that it also makes the viewer feel those same things. I want them to be able to let their eyes bounce around the painting with joy, surprise, and amusement.”

The recently retired investment adviser has been painting on the side since 2008, but is now concentrating on art more fully. Her forays into abstraction do not necessarily suggest a new path, just another option. “This is only my second abstract painting,” Heydorn says. “The original plein air felt dull, ordinary, and uninteresting. That is not to say that this is true of most plein air paintings, not even other ones of mine. Sometimes I try looser palette knife paintings, though. It is great fun to have discovered another method to express myself. The trick now will be to try to do this abstract style en plein air!”


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