En Plein Air & Alla Prima

Just like the French terminology “RSVP – respondez s’il vous plait” or “rendez-vous” creeping into the English language, there are some art terminologies that have also been carried over from the French or Italian.

Have you ever heard of “en plein air”? Instead of working from an easel in a studio, “en plein air” means that a painting was created in the great outdoors.

Many landscape painters brave the hot sun or pesky bugs to set up their portable easels to capture the scenery in paint.

Painting “en plein air” requires solving certain challenges such as the changing light and atmosphere. Also, instead of using the cropped image from a photograph, the artist must crop the panoramic view to fit onto a canvas.

And, what about movement? The wind doesn’t hold things still and animals won’t pose for the artist to capture their portrait. It all makes for a very interesting creative process.

Ok, so then, what about “alla prima”?

That Italian art terminology means to paint all at once while the paint is still wet instead of building up painting layers.

“Alla prima” paintings are completed in one sitting.

So the next time, I tell you that I am going to paint “en plein air, alla prima” you will know what I am talking about.

(Hmm… can you do that? Mix French and Italian into an English sentence? Or is that a “faux pas”!  HA! )

Sounds like fun… who wants to join me?