Plein air artist and teacher Lois Griffel
Plein air artist and teacher Lois Griffel

By Lois Griffel

I am often asked, “Why do you like to paint?” My answer is that painting has been part of my being for as long as I can remember and I cannot imagine my life without it. I am endlessly inspired by nature and the visual world. It is so easy to get bogged down with life and its daily complexities but when I’m looking at a fence of roses, for example, my heart sings. And best of all, my heart sings when I see people enjoying my work.

Because I am constantly stimulated by colors, patterns, and light, I see paintings in everything. Almost every minute of the day, no matter where I am, my eyes are looking and my mind is composing. Of course, I try not to do this while driving!

The greatest gift we are given as artists is the ability to see the infinite variety of color changes in nature. Impressionism is not a way to paint, it is a way to see. It is not a painting method, but rather, a method for translating what we see into paint.

The act of painting is exhilarating but it has also taught me many lessons. It keeps me humble by giving me a mindset and dedication to constantly keep learning and growing as an artist. Being a lifetime student isn’t always easy, but it made me realize a long time ago that to be successful requires me to be open to new levels of development and creativity.

I try to use new discoveries, such as a new color or brush, to enhance my style. I enjoy reading about other artists’ journeys that helped them realize their ambitions. Above all, I love being inspired to paint. It’s the process, not the product for me. It is so exciting when I view something familiar in a different light. Because of the ever-changing light in Arizona, I am never at a loss for subject matter; choosing is the biggest dilemma.

“Why do we paint?” One of my teachers said that we can’t just look at something beautiful, or stimulating or different, and then just go home. As artists, we are driven to do something with it.

I have been told how much my work has inspired students and colleagues, not necessarily to take up painting, but to get involved with environmental movements and actions. I am grateful that recent technology allows greater correspondence. I hope my paintings serve as a reminder that nature is precious and fleeting and we must do everything in our power to preserve it.

Helpful Links for Plein Air Painters


  1. Just a thought you might enjoy…while driving: When I’m driving in the rain and I come to a red light (at a relatively quiet intersection), I turn off my windshield wipers…always ready to turn them back on when the light turns green or for any other reason.


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