Aside from writing about my travels, taking photographs, and sometimes even recording sounds, whether I’m listening to indigenous music or just the ambient tweeting of birds, I also occasionally paint outdoors, something that’s referred to as plein air painting. I tote a set of watercolor postcards and a micro-size travel watercolor kit. So, when I recently received a copy of The Art of Plein Air Painting: An Essential Guide to Materials, Concepts and Techniques for Painting Outdoors by M. Stephen Doherty, I looked forward to reviewing it. However, I wouldn’t call it an actual guide to the techniques and nor does it provide a wealth of specific tips on plein air painting. Instead, I found it to be of historical interest, with lovely images of Edouard Manet and Claude Monet painting in the woods or in a boat, as well as their works and those of other artists, such as the American Impressionists. There is information provided on the techniques of various painters and schools of painting, including Jean-Baptise-Camille Corot, considered one of the most renowned landscape painter, and The American Hudson River School, most famous for its dramatic images of New York State’s mountains and rivers. However, again, these chapters are now a “how-to,” but rather simply provide inspiration for the budding painter. The back of the book does include some helpful resources, such as additional books on the topic, blogs and a Facebook page that may be worth checking out.
I don’t take my watercolor kit with me on all my trips because there often isn’t enough time to sit quietly and paint. But, among the places that I’ve visited where I have painted outdoor is New Hope, Pennsylvania that’s noted for what’s often referred to as Pennsylvania Impressionism.