Plien Air

August 5 - October 30, 2016
Doug E. L. Haynes will be showing plein air paintings at the UW Hospital East location off of highway 151.
The word plein air comes from the French expression for outdoor painting. Plein air came about when technology of paint evolved. The advent of paint in tubes in the mid 1800’s allowed artists to escape their studio and paint landscapes with their subject matter before them. Prior to that, artists were grinding pigments in their studio and storing them in pig bladders. This new technology facilitated the impressionists and made it easier to have a wide variety of colors on hand.

Since the mid 1800’s the art world has changed radically. Plein air currently occupies an odd space in the art world. Critics, museums, and art schools give a great deal of weight to innovation and modernism. Since the technology has associations with impressionists, the establishment tends to look dismissively on plein air. On the other hand, there is a rising swell in public interest and participation by both amateur and professional painters. Public interest in exhibitions is high and there are an abundance plein air groups and competitions.

I was introduced to plein air in the early 1990’s. It was a time when I needed a new artistic challenge. At that time, I was transitioning away from ceramics. I was moving frequently and this mobile lifestyle required an artform that was lighter and easier to transport. I was fascinated with painting on location and enjoyed the community of painting with other artists at competitions and meet ups.

Plein air presents a number of challenges. One must come up with a composition, color choices and brushwork before the light and shadows change the scene into something completely different. Working outdoors also brings with it the irritations of sun, wind, insects, and precipitation. I endure occasional bug bites and equip myself with a broad hat, and other protective gear. One’s painting equipment must be carefully selected for work outdoors. I work on wood panels without an easel. I transport my gear in a paint box and a bag which holds the panels, rags, water and a pillow to sit on.

The works on view here were painted in plein air, mostly in Dane County. I typically work alone, but often meet with the Dane County Plein Air group. My work can be viewed at