Jessica L. Bryant painting on location; as seen in the article
Jessica L. Bryant painting on location; as seen in the article "Are You Loving Nature to Death" in the February/March 2023 issue of PleinAir Magazine

Preview the newest issue of PleinAir Magazine with the Editor’s Letter:

Pay It Forward

PleinAir Magazine
The cover of our February / March 2023 issue of PleinAir Magazine; art by Christopher Reid (Click here to buy the digital version now)

The universe of art editors is a relatively small one — and last November we lost one of our greatest stars. For most of my career at Watercolor Artist and Artist’s Magazine, Steve Doherty helmed “the competitor” — American Artist. So when he made his wish to retire known, and I entered discussions to take his place as editor of PleinAir Magazine, it was intimidating, to say the least.

In truth, whenever I ran into Steve at art events — with his bow ties and soul-searching gaze — I was a little scared, even. So when he called me one afternoon to discuss the position, I was disarmed completely by his humor, down-to-earth banter, and above all generosity of spirit. He patiently answered all my questions, then wrapped up the conversation with, “You can do this. You’ll be great.”

In ways both big and small, Steve’s legacy includes those writers and editors who entered his orbit for even the briefest moment, picking up pieces of wisdom along the way, then passing them on in their own writing or to other editors and writers with whom they work. In this issue, Bob Bahr, who worked with Steve for many years, shares more about what it was like to be mentored by one of the most respected art editors of our time.

Steve Doherty in Wyoming
Steve Doherty in Wyoming

Through the work that Bob and I do, artists can approximate that kind of mentorship through the advice and demos we ask them to share in the magazine. But the passage of knowledge and advice to those just starting their painting journey — or to those looking to see the path a little differently — can take other forms as well. And those exchanges can be direct — through a workshop experience (see the “Artists’ Guide to Workshops, Schools & Ateliers”) or a simple encouraging word to a curious bystander out in the field. Or they can take a more indirect form — the detailing of a painting technique in a video or the modeling of good-for-the-environment behavior when the artist is set up in nature to paint (see “Are You Loving Nature to Death?”).

No matter whether we’re the student or the teacher, the painter or the observer, the editor or the event or workshop organizer, we have a responsibility to pass on what we’ve learned along the way. As 2023 kicks into gear, what will you do to share your passion for plein air with others? How will you pay it forward?

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