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The Plein Air Challenge was Plain Difficult

I survived April and ended up doing a little more than half of the 30 day Plein Air Challenge. I finished a total of 18 oil paintings and learned a lot about oil paint, painting in the elements, and letting go. I learned that my ideal block of time for painting outdoors is 2 hours. It's long enough for me to capture the lighting of the painting and short enough that I don't overpaint the piece.

It was extremely cold in April and I had to knit myself some fingerless gloves to use while painting, especially at night. I wasn't prepared for it to be so cold most of the month and it made painting difficult.

My favorite parts of the Plein Air challenge were painting on location and getting to talk to people as they walked by. I'm a social artist and I like talking to people, so being alone working in my studio for most of the year is not ideal for me. I painted in Old Town Alexandria twice, and enjoyed talking to kids and their parents about art and painting outside.

One day I drove out to Harpers Ferry to meet up with fellow artist Collin Cessna to do a paint out party. It was a lot of fun plain-air painting with another artist and talking through our challenges. Working alongside a peer was very rewarding and he helped me "let go" of a painting that truly was finished, before I could do more to it and ruin it.

"Bluebells" 11x14" oil on canvas, 2022.

This was the most difficult painting I did during the entire challenge, because I wanted to keep painting it and the painting was telling me it was done. It is so hard for me to leave a piece in this middle stage, and I am proud of myself for letting it be.

I finished a more traditional piece the same day that I did the bluebells, "Harpers Ferry Blue Bells" 11x14" oil on canvas, which I won't be selling. The original "Bluebells" is for sale in my shop, but this piece is one that I'm keeping. It was really cool seeing how Collin and I were looking at the same thing and interpreting it with paint in such different and colorful ways. I can't wait to do a "paint-out" again.

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