oil painting » Painting techniques » En-Plein-Air


En plein air is a French expression which translates to "in the open air", and is mainly used to describe the act of painting in the open air.

Artists for long have painted outside, but by the middle of 19th century functioning in natural light became chiefly important to the Barbizon school and Impressionism. The reputation of painting en plein air improved in the 1870s with the introduction of paints in tubes.Earlier, every painter made paints by grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil. The Newlyn School in England is considered another chief promoter of the technique in the latter 19th century.

It was during this time that the "Box Easel", in general known as the French Box Easel, was invented. Though it is uncertain who developed it, these exceedingly portable easels, with telescopic legs and built-in paint box and palette, made treks into the forest and up the hillsides less arduous.Till now, they remain an established choice even for home use since they can be fold up to the size of a brief case and thus is uncomplicated to store.

En-plein-air En-plein-air-1 En-plein-air-2
French Impressionist painters such as Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir implemented en plein air painting, and most of their work was performed outdoors.In the latter half of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century in Russia, painters such as Vasily Polenov, Isaac Levitan, Valentin Serov, Konstantin Korovin as well as I.E. Grabar were known for painting en plein air.