Plein air watercolor painting -
Dan Mondloch, featured in the PleinAir Magazine article "Why Watercolor is Perfect for Plein Air" (June/July 2020)

Preview the newest issue of Plein Air Magazine with Kelly Kane’s Editor’s Letter.

In the Meantime

As the coronavirus brought the world to a near standstill, the arts, like many communities, were hit hard. But beneath the adversity and anxiety, we find stories of resilience, creativity, and determination. Our special feature “Art in the Time of COVID-19” offers a taste of how artists have been responding to the crisis, documenting this period for history and finding new ways to stay connected to collectors, fellow painters, and their creative wellspring.

In this issue, we’ve also devoted special coverage to watercolor painting and collecting. Comparable in range and variety to any other medium, today’s artist-grade watercolors bear little resemblance to the small oval cakes you loved as a child. Made by mixing pigments with a binder, usually gum arabic, watercolor is applied with brush and water to paper. The water evaporates and the binder fixes the pigment to the support.

Unlike oil painters, who can paint one opaque color over another until they have achieved the desired effect, watercolor artists apply a series of transparent washes that allow light to be reflected from the surface of the paper through layers of color. It’s this quality that gives watercolor paintings their unique glow.

Although watercolor’s unpredictability makes it a challenge, the practiced artist learns to use any unexpected drips, spatters, and blooms to their best advantage. With this medium, spontaneity is key. For the plein air painter in particular, the immediacy and intimacy of watercolor springs from the way it encourages improvisation and allows the artist to record a fleeting moment with deft calligraphic brush-work and a few transparent washes. Paint, brushes, water, and paper are the only tools required.

Plein Air Magazine
The cover of our June/July issue of Plein Air Magazine; art by Cindy Baron (Click here to buy the digital version now)

In “Why Watercolor Is Perfect for Plein Air,” six top artists reveal how they make the most of the medium and why you should consider adding plein air watercolors to your collection. In “Watercolor Wisdom,” David Savellano illustrates how a watercolor comes together from start to finish and shares his secret to creating paintings that glow.

While the qualities of watercolor make it particularly well-suited for making an intimate response to one’s surroundings, it by no means holds a monopoly on that capability. Kimball Geisler and Kathie Odom make uniquely personal statements about the landscapes they love in oil — mountainscapes for Geisler, and old Southern houses and barns for Odom.

When another featured oil painter, Texas artist Julie Davis, spent two months in unfamiliar territory in New York City, she discovered a subject that reminded of her home and embarked on a series that may have changed her work forever. Also highlighted in this issue, Heidi A. Marshall turns to pastel to convey her feelings about a scene, recalling warnings from her artist father not to overthink or intellectualize her work too much.

As I write this note, parts of the country are beginning to re-open. I hope that as we smartly and safely emerge, we find joy and comfort in the people and places we love. In the meantime, we have the art.

Plein Air Magazine, June/July Table of Contents:

Plein Air Magazine

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