The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 12, 2012

Exhibit features work of day-tripping artists

By Joe Hadsall
Globe Features Editor

CARTHAGE, Mo. — It’s hard to tell by looking if a painting is done in the en plein air style. The best way to tell if a painting is done in that style is to look for a painter in front of it.

En plein air is a painter’s version of taking a photo, in terms of execution -- the painter takes the canvas directly to the subject outside and paints right there.

“It means ‘in open space,’” said Sally Armstrong, director of artCentral. “It allows for a quick snapshot of a subject during a moment in time. It’s a spontaneous painting that reflects that moment.”

A group of 15 en plein air painters from across the region will be featured at artCentral. Members of the Day Trippers of Southwest Missouri have formed an exhibit called “Peinture Adventure.”

The exhibit represents the first time the group has had its work featured as a group. It is comprised of several artists who also do studio work, Armstrong said. The exhibit of about 60 works includes mainly outdoor subjects and settings.

“We’re the first time they have shown together, but they paint together all the time,” Armstrong said. “It’s a nice show, with good variation.”

The members meet in flash mob style at locations throughout the region and start painting, Armstrong said. According to the group’s Facebook page, they have painted at George Washington Carver Park, the Herman Jaeger Festival in Neosho, Red Oak II in Carthage, at Britian Mill near Halltown and at a private Joplin residence.

The style is usually done in oils or acrylics, because those media allow for the use of an easel, Armstrong said. Armstrong (not a member of the group) uses watercolors, which require the use of a table. In addition to ease of use, the easel allows artists to work at a much faster pace.

“The folks that paint from an easel can just start knocking it out,” Armstrong said. “They aren’t looking up and down.”

It’s a style rooted deeply in art history, widespread before the invention of cameras, Armstrong said. It’s a form that can teach amateurs and hobbyists a lot, because of its interpretive nature. Amateurs tend to get hung up on details that might not matter to an overall composition, she said.

“It’s like anything in art, in what you don’t put in is more important that what you do,” Armstrong said. “That’s the beauty of it, when you can convey a feeling to a viewer even when you use fewer details.” In addition to the exhibit, the gallery will offer two other en plein air events during the Maple Leaf Festival: