Plein Air Magazine - Skip Whitcomb painting
"Monarch Cemetary" by Skip Whitcomb, featured in this issue of Plein Air Magazine

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

From Plein Air Magazine: Paint What You Know

Years ago, I was invited to join a panel for a discussion about art at the Florida Watercolor Society’s annual event. (Congratulations to them on their 50th anniversary this year!) Also on the panel were two distinguished artists — Dean Mitchell and Morten E. Solberg.

As the Q&A was winding down, an attendee stood to express her frustration that paintings of dogs or flowers never win awards in art competitions. We suggested that perhaps she focus on pushing her own paintings to another level by thinking harder about what draws her to those subjects and focusing more succinctly on expressing those feelings or emotions. It was agreed that painting a wholly different subject from what she typically did simply for competition was a losing proposition. The old writer’s adage, “write what you know,” worked for artists too, we decided.

Plein Air Magazine cover
The cover of our August/September issue of Plein Air Magazine; art by Lana Ballot (Click here to buy the digital version now)

I was reminded of this exchange as I read Bob Bahr’s article on Christopher Leeper in this issue. In it, Leeper offers this advice to developing painters: “Find the path that is really you. Find that inspiration that moves you to paint. If you want to paint horses, paint horses. Don’t listen to what the academics want you to do. Don’t worry what other people say. We have access to so many things, and we hear so many voices. You must gravitate toward something that is you. If we are more honest with ourselves, it makes us better artists. Me, I love being in the woods and I love plein air. It’s who I am as an artist.”

From Skip Whitcomb, and his devotion to painting his beloved Rocky Mountain West, to the painters who contributed to the story on Cape Cod, the artists featured in this issue seem to agree. Knowing a landscape as well as they know the back of their hands encourages them to push further, to see their subjects in new ways, to tap deeper into their feelings about a place, and to share their love of those scenes with us.

It’s good to get out of your comfort zone now and again, but it pays to paint what you know.

PleinAir Magazine, August/September Table of Contents:

Plein Air Magazine contents


PleinAir Magazine ushers in a new chapter as Associate Publisher Anne W. Brown retires this summer. Over the course of the past 10 years, Anne has participated in the inception of the Plein Air Convention & Expo, the creation of Streamline Publishing’s digital products, and the successful growth of the magazine despite the pandemic.

“Anne Brown is a superstar,” says Eric Rhoads, publisher of PleinAir. “Though we hate to lose her to retirement, she will always be part of the Streamline family. She has helped us change so many lives over the years by helping artists, galleries, and organizations grow through our advertising. She will be deeply missed.”

With Anne’s retirement, we welcome Katie Reeves as the new director of sales and marketing. She has been in the publishing business for 30 years, in both regional and national magazines. “We’re excited about Katie joining our team,” says Rhoads. “We conducted an extensive nationwide search for someone who had the quality, ethics, and experience that could be deployed to make sure our advertising and marketing team carry forward helping our advertisers with excellence. Katie is the perfect fit, and has deep-rooted experience in the advertising, publishing, and arts community.”

Get your copy of the newest issue of PleinAir Magazine — available on newsstands — or subscribe here so you never miss an issue.

See more from Plein Air Magazine’s back issues here.