Cindy Allman paints a view

The French Impressionists popularized the practice of painting “en plein air” — in the open air — in the mid-nineteenth century.  These artists, considered radicals in their time, were intrigued by the momentary, transient effects of sunlight on objects, and on the changing qualities of light as the day progressed from morning to afternoon. They abandoned their studios and set up easels on river banks and meadows,  on beaches and in wooded glens — and in the process, changed art forever.

A local group of  artists called the Plein Air Painters of the Western Reserve have adopted this time-honored tradition.  They show up every Wednesday morning at nine A.M., May through October, at a designated Medina County park and  paint industriously until noon.

On this hot, sunny morning in May, the Plein Air Painters, swathed in wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts have gathered at River Styx Park in rural Medina County and set up easels in shady, secluded areas. They are working in a variety of mediums — oil, watercolor, acrylic and pencils.

“We are shooting for a moment in time,” explains Cindy Allman, the award- winning Medina artist and art instructor who organized the group a year ago. “We have to work quickly because the light is constantly changing. I like to paint on sunny days because there’s high contrast and interesting shadow patterns.”

She gestures toward the oil painting of a barn on her canvas.  “The shadow on this roof has been getting shorter and shorter as the morning progresses,” she observes.

She has had experience in working fast.  After graduating from the Pittsburgh Institute of Art, she worked as an illustrator and commercial artist. “Not only did we learn to work quickly, but we had to learn to edit.  Less is more,” she observes.”

Dave Fawcett

Dave Fawcett , another award -winning artist (he won first place in the Aquarius Art show sponsored by the Medina County Art League this past February) hides in the deep shade and works on a view of the lake. He retired from banking ten years ago and has, since then, devoted himself to art.

“This is such joy,” he says.  “I love working outside. And I like being with all these people.  I’m traveling in excellent company.”

He works so quickly that he has completed one painting by 10:30 and is contemplating a second one. The first painting is so realistically rendered that the canvas seems to blend in with the actual scenery.

Now he is faced with a decision. “I’m thinking of doing something more abstract with the second painting, he says. ” He explains that his work is moving more and more into the abstract realm.

On the other hand, he might just wipe the first canvas clean and start over. “It’s the journey that’s important,” he says.  “If we’re not wiping off, we’re not learning.”

Lee Beuther

Lee Beuther of Brunswick  is another regular member of the group. Her first art instructor was the celebrated Medina water- color artist, Fred Graff.  She recalls that he too was fond of painting out of doors.  He called it “painting on location.”

She has since moved on to acrylics and oil.

“Painting is very therapeutic for me,” Lee admits.  ‘I don’t think a lot about what I’m doing.  I just flow along with it.”

Cindy Allman’s paintings are available at Gramercy Gallery, 221 South Court St., Medina.  Dave Fawcett and Lee Beuther’s work is available at Art 101 Gallery, 23 Public Square, Suite 11, Medina.

Plein Air Painters of the Western Reserve schedule for May:

May 19 — Fortier Park, Olmsted Falls, 9 A.M. – noon

May 26 — Public Square, Medina,  9A.M. -noon

May 27 — Geig”s Apple Orchard, Seville,  6:30 P.M. – sunset

No Charge.  New artists welcome.

10 Responses to ““En Plein Air””

  1. Helen Jeglic Says:

    I loved reading about you and plan to join you whenever I can. Right now I’m pretty busy helping my husband recover from hip replacement surgery – he’s doing very well so I’ll be painting again soon. Thanks for the blog and for the welcome.

  2. Sally Heston Says:

    I miss painting with all of you. I’ll join you (weather permitting) once my Wednesday class is on a break in June.

  3. glenna moyers Says:

    please send me a schedule of painting sites i would love to join you
    whenever i can

  4. Katherine Stokes-Shafer Says:

    Would love to connect with you and paint outside. Please put me on the contact list. I can’t do this fall but next spring I would love to join you. Kathy

  5. Appartamentipalermo Says:

    Thanks for some other informative site. Where else may just I am getting that type of info written in such an ideal means? I’ve a challenge that I’m just now operating on, and I’ve been on the look out for such info.

  6. Ed Given Says:

    Link to a video of old Medina. I live in Ashland and we visit medina often.

  7. Heiko Says:

    Hi There,I am a newbie on here, but just waetnd to say hello to the members and to introduce myself.I am Martin Stephenson (aka stevo) and I am an English Landscape Watercolour Artist & Tutor, living working and teaching permanently in beautiful Bulgaria. If anyone is interested in painting over here while on holiday I am based in stunning Sozopol on the Black Sea Coast.See my website for Holidays, Short Breaks and all my other activities.Wizzair amongst others operate to the nearest airport Bourgas, and flights with them and other operators run from most regional airports.Hope to see you soon in Sunny BulgariaMartin Stephenson (stevo)

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