“I hope the overriding takeaway from all of the stories in this issue is that painters are still painting.” Kelly Kane shares a preview of the new issue of Plein Air magazine, and insights on how the art community has adapted.
From Plein Air Magazine: Art Goes On
While the pandemic has put the brakes on many aspects of our lives, art goes on. Forced to close at various times to the public, museums now offer free virtual tours of permanent collections and special exhibits. Plein air event organizers are pivoting quickly to move some components — if not all — of their festivities online. This year, even our own Plein Air Convention & Expo became a virtual event, PleinAir Live. An unexpected upshot was that many of these exhibits and events drew greater audiences from all around the world — people who would never have had the opportunity to participate before. It will be interesting to see how this revelation might influence aspects of art events going forward.
In this issue, our reporting on those plein air events that have persevered continues. In “Postcards from the Road,” we also look at how one painting group got creative when stay-at-home orders kept them from meeting in person, exhibiting the kind of ingenuity we see happening within groups across the country. But I hope the overriding takeaway from all of the stories in this issue is that painters are still painting — and producing incredible work.
Artists who may or may not have been making art for decades are coming to the fore, acknowledged by gallery owners, competition jurors, and fellow artists as ones to watch. We celebrate those painters in “11 Artists to Collect Now: The Emerging Plein Air Painters You Need to Know.” For some, this attention comes after having set aside their art for years as they pursued another career; for others, it comes from a rigid determination to make art their lifelong pursuit. In every case, their success is hard-won by study and miles on the canvas. If they agree on one point, it is that there are no shortcuts. To improve you must put in the time — drawing, painting, and not being afraid to fail. Indeed, failure is growth, as long as you learn from it.
Another sentiment repeated throughout my interviews with this year’s 11 (I hope to see this become an annual special feature!) is that no one does it alone. The top artists who share their wisdom through books, videos, magazine articles, and workshops help those coming up behind them, following a long tradition of masters who pay it forward.
Of course, no one has to tell you how much plein air painters also benefit just from painting with one another. Since March, I’ve seen a number of memes featuring pictures of painters alone in their studios with messages about how artists are perfectly suited to isolation. But that doesn’t quite ring true for plein air painters, does it? From my experience, artists who like to be outdoors often also like the social nature of interacting with passersby or the feeling of community they get from painting in a group or at an event. At PACE, I hear people frequently refer to their fellow plein air painters as their “tribe.” And at this time, although things are slowly starting up again, I’d say we’re all missing our tribe.
Let’s remember those who are still out there, exploring new terrain — both on foot and in their paintings — and producing stellar work. And let’s support one another however we can. Perhaps pick up a new painting — we’re all tired of staring at the same walls, aren’t we? Sign up for a virtual class or event. Check out a video by an artist you’ve long admired or one who paints in a way you think might challenge you. Or just offer a kind word on social media for an artist who dares to share a recent painting. Till we meet again, tribe, know that your friends, collectors, and fellow painters are here for you.
PleinAir Magazine, October/November Table of Contents: