En plein air is a French expression that means “in the open air” and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors, which is also called “sur le motif” reproduces the actual visual conditions seen at the time of the painting. This contrasts with painting according to studio or academic rules, which creates a per-determined look.
Artists have long painted outdoors, but in the mid-19th century working in natural light became particularly important to the Barbizon school, the Hudson River School and Impressionism. The popularity of painting en plein air increased in the 1840s with the introduction of paints in tubes. — From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Last fall the Capitola Art and Cultural Commission hosted their inaugural Plein Air event, to the delight of the public and participating artists. 2016 was their second annual exhibition, which was held at New Brighton Middle School Performing Arts Center in Capitola on November 6 with art sales benefitting art education.
Forty professional local and regional artists converged to paint outdoors capturing the charm and beauty of Capitola. The artists painted on the spot, laying down only what they saw, the particular light, and the feel of the scene.
Plein Air artists often get up early, pack their easels and paints, and head out to find their painting site as they capture the changing light, shadows, and atmospheric conditions (fog!). These are the challenges as they translate the moment they are witnessing often returning the next day at the same time to complete the piece. Some artists worked into the evening to capture the reflection of moonlight on the bay, or the twinkle of lights on Depot Hill.
Capitola Art & Cultural Commissioner and Committee Chair, Jenny Shelton, said of this year’s entries, “The quality of art we saw this year was amazing. Artists came from as far away as New York and gave us the opportunity to see Capitola through the eyes of these talented artists.”
Commissioner Laurie Hill said, “The public turnout and interest during the whole event shows how deep the awareness and appreciation of good art runs in our community. It was an exciting three days.”
Capitola Plein Air 2016 Winners
“Sunset Under Pier”
Cyrus Hunter, watercolor
“Toward Capitola II”
Scott Hamill, oil
Scott Hamill, oil
“Morning in Downtown Capitola”
Sally Bookman, watercolor
Honorable Mentions: • Catherine Boyer ‘Wharf Shelter’ 10×8, oil • Kerrie Brandau ‘Looking out to Capitola Bluff’ 9×12 oil • M.E. ‘Mike’ Bailey ‘Bluff Perch’ Gouache • Carol Belliveau ‘Trestle Reflection’ 11×14 oil • Sally Bookman ‘Morning Downtown Capitola’ 15×20 watercolor • Wendy Brayton ‘Sunset Stroll’15×24 oil • Myra Eastman ‘Above Capitola Village’ 24×24, oil • Marie Massey ‘Surftown USA’ 18×24, oil • Judy Miller ‘Between Tides’ 14×11 pastel • Erika Perloff ‘Surf Contest’ 8×10 pastel • Charles Prentiss ‘Morning on Esplanade’ 10×10 oil • Lupe Santos ‘Water Reflections’ watercolor • Barbara Tapp ‘Cathy’s Porch Capitola’ 7×15 watercolor • Nancy Takaichi ‘1400 on the Wharf’ 12×16 oil • Marti Walker ‘Shadows’ 8×6 pastel.
Special Recognition from Times Publishing (Capitola Soquel Times): ‘Morning Walk’ an 11×14 Oil by Peggy Wynne Borgman of Genoa Nevada. Peggy is former Capitola resident who returned to visit friends and to take part in the competition. “Thank you so much for this recognition. When I returned to finish the painting the second day, I had to rework it because the light was so different. Even though it was the same time of day, there was much more sun and the contrasts more intense.”
Other Special Awards: • Capitola Village and Wharf Business Improvement Association Award Coraly Hanson ‘Capitola Beach’ 12×16 Oil • Capitola Soquel Chamber of Commerce Award Wendy Brayton ‘Sunset Stroll’ 15×25 Oil • Santa Cruz County Association of Realtors Award Marie Massey ‘California Beach Bungalow’ 24×12 Oil • Beach Neighbors Spotlight Award Lupe Santos ‘Sunset at the Wharf’ watercolor.