Joshua Cunningham,
Joshua Cunningham, "The Way Back," 2022, oil, 24 x 36 in., available from artist, plein air;  featured in PleinAir Magazine (June/July 2023 issue)

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

Where Inspiration Strikes

It’s easy to see why painters flock to sites like the Grand Canyon or the Adirondacks, where the views are endless and grandiose. But for the inexperienced, those scenes can be overwhelming, the vastness more of a burden than an advantage. Fortunately, inspiring views can often be found right under our noses.

In this issue, watercolor artist Iain Stewart takes us down the back roads of east-central Alabama, introducing us to the landscapes he grew up with and is now rediscovering. The paintings radiate feelings of familiarity, nostalgia, and affection — a powerful mix for both the artist and collector.

PleinAir magazine JuneJuly2023 sm
The cover of our June/July 2023 issue of PleinAir Magazine; art by Joshua Cunningham (Click here to buy the digital version now)

“The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.” — Paul Strand

That same sense of communion with the landscape drives Minnesota oil painter Joshua Cunningham. “The real sweet part of plein air painting is studying the scene,” he says. “It’s not meditative but, rather, active.” As a result of that close observation, the artist comes to know a scene intimately and can make informed decisions about what to include and what to leave out to convey their understanding of the place to the viewer.

Bringing her own unique energy and aesthetic to the landscape, Stephanie Hartshorn, a fifth-generation Coloradan, depicts the quiet resonance of rural life in the American West. In her recent work, the sky has held particular interest.

“It’s that big sky, the wide expanse of the Western plains, that visual feeling of your arms stretched out as wide as possible,” she says. “During COVID times, I found myself pulled to the sky, looking for a way to feel freer, to feel the openness, because we were so held back and closed up. It’s calming, peaceful, and meditative to gaze up at the clouds and watch them shape-shift across the landscape.”

In “Making Waves,” four artists from around the world look out, not up, to views of both land and water from boats of all sorts. Following in the footsteps of masters like Daubigny, Monet, and Seago, contemporary painters Stanislaw Zoladz, Ross Ryan, Marc Dalessio, and Debra Huse have taken their craft to the water to bring us unique perspectives on their subjects.

To our artist readers, I hope that no matter where you find inspiration this summer, the tips and advice in this issue will help make the experience more fruitful and more enjoyable. And for the collectors in our midst, I hope that learning the stories behind the paintings and the artists’ processes helps bring you even greater enjoyment and understanding of the works in your own collection and perhaps even inspires you to welcome a new painting into your home. Regardless of your perspective, inspiration can be found anywhere. Embrace it!

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