By Joseph Weinzettle
Pleinairism is typically associated with nature – wilderness or rural settings. Hudson River School painters completed plein-air works in the natural settings of upstate New York, essential toward composing their larger scale studio works. The Impressionists often completed their plein-air works in park settings outside of Paris. In the art world, as well as in the public eye, pleinairism evolved from being considered as a method for studies to being the finished work.
There is no reason not to apply pleinairism in urban settings. The gestural approach one uses in nature (in response to changing light and weather) can just as easily be applied to built and urban spaces which are also in the “open air”.
The above painting in progress is a three-panel composition “22nd Street South, AM”. The panels were drawn and painted on site in St. Petersburg. My painting medium is stand oil. The underdrawing was silverpoint, bamboo brush and ink wash on chalk gesso prepared panels. My limited palette is mostly primaries.
The photograph above shows two of the panels in progress. It’s usually impractical to carry 3 boards to a site for the same session. I rotate the panels session to session.
I began this painting in 2015, drawn to the location’s historical vibe, visual space and depth. At times I put it aside and then returned to it, months to years later. Since I began, the roof of the building was altered and trees in the background were cut down.
The wall of the old Cliff & Doug’s Food Store is now graced with a mural by Princess Smith (partly visible in the photo above).
After re-working the sky and background in June and on July 4, I think I just might be finished. Below is a photo of the three panels together, back at the studio in Tarpon.