Clyde Aspevig PleinAir Magazine
With no particular idea in mind, Clyde Aspevig (featured in PleinAir Magazine December/January), begins "land snorkeling." When he finds an aspect of the scene he likes, he narrows his focus to find an interesting composition, then sets up his easel and gets to work.

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

From PleinAir Magazine: The Road to Inspiration

Hearing cover artist Clyde Aspevig reminisce about Sunday car rides with his parents to “watch the wheat grow” in northern Montana put me in mind of my own family road trips when I was a kid. Back then, any traveling I did was for fun. Today, I’m often called upon to travel for work (which, let’s be honest, most often means a lot of fun, too).

With Millie, my 2-year-old coonhound, as my only companion most work days, those trips are a lifeline. I get to meet interesting new people, talk art with like-minded folks, learn about places I’ve never been before, and expand my understanding of the art community and this wonderful country.

PleinAir Magazine
The cover of our December/January issue of PleinAir Magazine; art by Clyde Aspevig (Click here to buy the digital version now)

For this issue, I talked to a number of artists who share that appreciation for travel and the connection it brings them to the landscape and to others who share their passion. You won’t want to miss the account by Christine Lashley, Suzie Baker, Jane Hunt, and Michele Byrne of their recent painting trip to Paris. Of course, an artist couldn’t help but be inspired in the City of Light, but they would want you to know that the setting was only the second best part of the trip; the first was the camaraderie and the focus on exploration and experimentation in their own work. Hunt called it being in “practice mode” versus “performance mode.”

While most of our Destination Inspiration stories have taken us into the mountains or to off-the-beaten-path locales, Paris provided the artists alternate subject matter and a unique vibe that’s reflected in the work. Byrne said it put her into a “painting frenzy.”

Drawing energy from the city drives the artists in another special feature in this issue: “The Art of Urban Sketching.” A close cousin to plein air painting, urban sketching also entails working on location, in real time, but the focus is often less on completing finished works and more on creating a personal record of one’s daily life or travels. “You may see less of the city, but you experience it more,” says featured urban sketcher Jane Blundell. “The sketches you produce create indelible memories of your travels that are so much richer than a photo.”

An interesting phenomenon we’ve seen increase over the last few years is the number of collectors who want to learn to express their own creative impulses. Urban sketching is a wonderful way to get started. “Through urban sketching, we discover things about ourselves,” says James Richards. “We might tap into a latent talent, or rediscover that child that still lives inside who loved to draw without judgment. It might set us on a path to discover our own creative voice. Any of these is a compelling reason to give it a try. Together, they can be transformational. I’ve seen it many times.”

For those of us who find our place securely on the collecting end of the process, no worries. Through events like those listed in this issue’s Ultimate Guide to Plein Air Events & Organizations, we can continue to reap the benefits of having top-notch artists visit our area and shine a spotlight on some of our favorite landmarks, or introduce us to the beauty in scenes we pass by every day but give little attention. Through their work, we can also find reminders of special vacations or enjoy places we’ve only dreamed of visiting.

No matter where you fit under the plein air community umbrella, stepping out of your daily routine to travel can put you in a different state of mind when it comes to your approach to time, process, and outcome. I hope you’ll use the Ultimate Guide in this issue, and the Guide to Workshops coming up in the February-March issue, to plan a trip or two with artist friends this year. See some great artwork, make some of your own, connect with like-minded folks, add a new painting to your walls, and refill your creative cup.

Happy travels!

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