Adventures En Plein Air

Available Plein Air Paintings (Scroll Down for the Stories)

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Plein Air Stories

Here’s me, laughing because I’m being photographed… But also very happy because I’m surrounded by amazing artists and painting in a gorgeous location.

This was my first time going for longer than a day-trip to paint outdoors. I drove down to Omaha and stayed in an airb&b close to the American Impressionist Society national exhibition and convention.

Omaha NE | We got early access to the zoo (which is world class, and the animals all look happy) – so AIS artists got to paint while the zoo staff were doing behind the scenes zoo things… That was amazing.

My most finished piece from this day at the Omaha zoo has no animals, which I think is pretty funny. But this composition was too good to pass up.

Symmetry
9×12 inches
oil on panel
$650

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american impressionist society award for opening

Omaha NE | On another painting day at the AIS national event, artists painted at a gorgous private re-creation of Monet’s garden. At this event the artists were all much closer together, so I got to paint right next to amazing artists the whole day. It was exhilerating.

And to make the trip even better, I won a top award for this painting (Best of Quarry) in the wet paint competition, and the painting has it’s forever home with the lovely couple who created and that garden.

Opening
9×12″, oil
SOLD

Brookings county SD | This is a lovely horse ranch to the NW of Brookings. I talked to the owner to let him know what I was doing out on the road, and he was very gracious. While I was painting he came by and let me know that that cute little guy in the lower left area of a painting had literally been born the day before. So exciting!

Horse Ranch en plein air
9×12 inches, oil on panel
$650

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Close to Oakwood SD | While trying to prepare myself for the Red Wing event, I went out painting close to home a number of times.

This was one of those days where I found spot after spot that were not quite right, and then finally I found this field of cows and … the clouds piled in. But that’s OK because I absolutely love clouds!

Outside Oakwood
9×12″, oil
SOLD

Red Wing MN | On a Friday morning I taught my workshop, then had a nice lunch with my son (slightly tear-filled on my part, getting ready to depart), and then drove about 5 hours to a town I’d never seen before, to participate in a plein air event as a “Featured Class Artist” for the first time.

By the time I greeted my host and then drove up to the plein air event for the night it was already getting dark. But this is the view that greeted me.

The next day I went back out to the same spot and set up to paint this scene.

This is the first painting I finished in Red Wing, MN. The water there really is violet in the afternoon light.

Afternoon Light at Frontenac Overlook
9×12 inches

oil on linen
available at Red Wing Arts 
651-388-7569

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bay point boat houses red wing mn

Red Wing MN | On the second day of the Red Wing plein air event, in the late morning, I set up by this scene. I painted for several hours, and then the light changed too much to go on, so I put the painting away and went out scouting for painting locations.

The next morning I got up at 5 am to catch the morning light in a different painting, and then in the late morning went back to work on this panting – and kept working on it as my temp gage climbed up to 104′, but stopped again when the sun moved behind me.

And then the following day I did the same. So this is officially the first plein air painting I’ve worked on for three days in a row. 

Green Door at Bay Point
9×12″, oil on linen
available at Red Wing Arts 651-388-7569

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impressionist lilypad painting

Red Wing MN | I painted my Red Wing host Peg’s lovely garden twice. The first time, I carried my gear down to a lily pond in the shade and enjoyed a 100 degree afternoon in the shade of the trees, surrounded by bird song. After a while I started feeling like the lily pads were moving and wondered if the heat was affecting me. But looking back at the photo I took when I first set up and saw that yes, they had moved quite a bit! 

While this was not as challenging as painting horses that just walk away halfway through a sketch-in, it was a reminder that painting outdoors is always a process of painting life in motion. 

Dancing Water Lilies
oil on linen, 9×12 inches, $650
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Red Wing MN | I just found out this painting had been in the running for “best oil” at the Red Wing Plein Air competition, and I am so thrilled and honored about that!! The artists in the show are excellent, and it was a pleasure getting to meet some of them.

Evening Light at Bay Point
12×16″

oil on linen
available at Red Wing Arts 651-388-7569

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painting of RedWing steeples

Red Wing MN | When setting up to paint, I found my easel was missing the wing nut that makes its left leg stay put. I tried setting it flat on the ground and sitting on the ground to paint, but I felt way too exposed to bugs and ended up wiping off the study I’d started. 

For a trip to Ace Hardware and about a dollar I was back in business and have an extra wing nut just in case it ever happens again. 

With the easel stand-up-able again I went up to a view overlooking the town and painted this study as the sun went down. 

Town Steeples
oil on canvas, 5×7 inches, $250

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Red Wing MN | On the third day of this Red Wing plein air adventure, I went down to Bay Point at sunrise to start a new painting. 

On the walk to set up, the sweetest big dog greeted me. I’ve been missing my dog, and having this girl wag her tail and lean against me was so nice! 

Then while I painted, a number of people came by to check my progress a few times. It was such a joyful place to paint. 

I was drawn to this boat, and worked on the painting for a couple hours before the early morning light changed into a midmorning light (and then came back first thing the next morning to finish it).

Morning Light at Bay Point Park, oil on linen, 9×12″, available at Red Wing Arts 651-388-7569

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Red Wing MN | Paintings for the Red Wing Plein Air event show were due by noon on Thursday. The minimum number of paintings for featured class artists was 3, and the maximum was 5. 

I turned in four framed up paintings. For my last painting, I had 2 options in the car that I would have felt good about turning in – but I wanted to try one last painting session – so Thursday morning I parked in a spot I had scouted several times, including earlier that morning, and painted Gas Stop at Bay Point Marina. 

I parked, got my stuff out fast as possible, and painted with some gusto. 

When the best spot to paint from is out by the street, I like to set up next to the back of the car and leave the trunk door up and use it as a shade / windbreak / umbrella. And the car makes me more visible and less self conscious out in the street. 

Gas Stop at Bay Point, 5×7 inches, oil on canvas, SOLD

Red Wing MN | After I turned in paintings for the plein air exhibition I went back to my host’s house and set up in her back yard to paint some of her flowers – as a gift to say thanks for hosting me.

A tiny squirrel hung onto a tree by couple toes, as still as a statue, to watch me paint for a while. A bumble bee sat on one of these flowers, and I tried to grab the right paint quickly but it moved before I could paint it. A little while later it came back and I tried to grab my phone quick enough to take a picture of it, but it moved before I could click. We played that game several times.

And so many birds and a couple frogs serenaded me the whole time I was painting.

Peg’s Lilies, 5×7″, oil on canvas, in private collection

red barn painting art

Red Wing MN | I got all set up and started painting this barn, a big older lab came out and had some things to say about my being on his land. Then he trotted over to say hello. We became good pals, and most of this painting happened with that sweet dog leaning on my leg. Happy times.

Red Barn en plein air
9×12 inches
oil on linen
$650
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Brookings county SD | There was no where to pull all the way off the road, so I just did my best to get out of anyone’s way, and set up my easel. I got the most confused looks in this spot. One person stopped to say “You’re painting?” When I said yes, he just seemed surprised.

The previous day when I painted, the wind was blowing 30 miles an hour so I crouched down in front of my car to use it as a wind block while painting. So many people slowed down to see if I needed help changing a tire. It made me feel pretty great about humanity.

Cool Drink of Water
9×12 inches
oil on canvas panel
$650
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desmet sd plein air painting

De Smet SD | At the plein air paint out at the Laura Engles Wilder homestead, I sat down to paint a rooster, and he promptly went inside his house. While I was deciding whether to wait for him to come back or move on, a little kid came up and asked me a bunch of questions about what I was doing. When I told him I’d been painting the rooster, he said “I’ll get it back” and then made some bird noises and it did come back! Long enough for me to get a few colors down.

After that I moved over to the location you see here, and a few minutes later the little guy came over and sat right next to me while I painted. It was nice.

STUDY | Wilder Wash, en plein air
11×14 in, oil painting on canvas, $500
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De Smet SD | I painted two mornings in a row on the side of the road between the Laura Engles Wilder homestead and a ranch with over a dozen lovely horses. As I painted, horses came and went, and I captured a vew of them grazing. I was most excited about the light shining on the house.

Plein Air Horse Ranch in De Smet
11×14 inches

oil on canvas on panel
$770

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