The cover of the May 2013 issue of PleinAir magazine

A major show celebrating hometown artist Edward Potthast (1857-1927) is about to open at the Cincinnati Art Museum. That’s an opportunity to explain how he used innovative Impressionist painting techniques to satisfy a demand for charming paintings of vacation spots. Is there a lesson here for plein air artists who want to be innovative and popular at the same time?

Like many young American artists who studied in Europe at the end of the 19th century, Edward Potthast could recognize that collectors were far more interested in brightly colored Impressionist landscapes created outdoors than in his teachers’ dark, ponderous studio paintings. According to art historians who prepared Potthast’s paintings for a new exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum (Eternal Summer: The Art of Edward Henry Potthast, June 8 to September 8, 2013), when Potthast packed up some of his wet panels to transport them home, he inadvertently flattened the brushwork. He liked the accidental effect so much that from then on he deliberately reduced the impasto of his brush marks and avoided using any varnish as a final coating on the dry paintings.

Jeff Horn, one of the featured artists in the May 2013 issue

Alan Flattmann, standing next to his pastel painting demonstration

We’ll anticipate the summer season by featuring one Potthast’s most popular subjects on the cover of the May 2013 issue of PleinAir. A loosely painted plein air study of bathers in the ocean will grace the cover, and inside the issue we’ll reveal all the information gathered when this major museum show was being organized. In this issue we’ll also highlight plein air watercolors by former AWS President Janet Walsh, follow master pastelist Alan Flattmann to a favorite painting spot in New Orleans, and showcase several oil painters who won major prizes in recent plein air events.


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