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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Dvorak Grandjean

En Plein Air Fun

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

I started en plen air sketching regularly about three years ago. I retired after a long career as an R.N. It was so good to get outside again! It had been many years since my husband and I took our two sons camping, fishing, and exploring the many trails of the Texas State Parks. After they left home, we continued to enjoy vacations (didn't sketch then). Sometimes, we travelled together and sometimes I travelled with my friends, for much needed time away. Hawaii, California, The Grand Tetons, Yosemite, Glacier National Park, New York City, Washington D.C. top the list of my favorite places. Family vacations to Honduras, Belize and The Bahamas come to mind ( a little sketching done then). I've been to Europe twice and we had more plans to travel abroad. The architecture, the food and the cultural experiences in the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Germany, and The Netherlands bring back favorite experiences and times recalled. (Sketching even more). Now, with the pandemic, travelling has come to a screeching halt, so it's time for a quiet approach to discovery and creativity. That's where en plein air comes in. The French coined the term, which means "outdoors". Going outdoors to paint has really caught on here in America in the past 15 years. It's building a lot of momentum in Europe again. The Impressionists did it, of course and paved the way for all of us. Now, I'm rediscovering my own backyard, literally - yes, I've painted a corner of my backyard, and it was so much fun! I'm blessed to have two National Wildlife Refuges nearby with sweeping but flat vistas. I go there to sketch and paint. I enjoy my walks and bike rides on local trails now, documenting the experiences in my "concertina" sketchbooks. Quiet and soulful.

Here's a small watercolor on board, inspired after sketching while on vacation years ago. I have sketches of local marshes, skies, flowers, and virgin prairies. I have sketches of beaches from South Padre Island to Galveston, Texas. I have sketches done while river cruising through the heart of Europe on the The Main, The Rhine and The Danube Rivers. I've sketched in local city parks and my small "downtown" area. Always so much to see! You can sketch anything, anywhere, just start; perhaps with an item in your home, then progress to your backyard view! You can go many places outside and keep a safe distance from others, while trying your hand at plein air painting. All you need is paper, pencil and a little bit of time to get started! What would you like to sketch? Where would you like to begin? Contact me, let me know, I'm eager to hear from you!

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