En plein air (“in the open air”) is a French term used to describe the activity of painting outdoors. Maybe you’ve never really thought about this being an activity that requires its own title — but it was actually a revolutionary idea in the world of art when it came into fashion with the French Impressionist painters such as Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro during the late nineteenth century.
Wayne frequently uses the en plein air technique himself, and it is often favoured by watercolourists. Wayne, like the Impressionists before him, is fascinated by natural light and interested in capturing a moment in time — an emotional “impression” rather than the literal translation of a scene.
He says, “My goal is not to produce a painting that looks like a photograph, but rather to infuse emotion into a piece and challenge the viewer to feel something beyong simply the scene depicted. To see that it is unnecessary to physically ascend mountain peaks or travel to distant sun-drenched beaches one’s self to experience the awe and power of such locations. I like to paint ordinary, everyday scenes and encourage the viewer to appreciate and consider them, as I do, extraordinary and beautiful.”
Now, the next time you see an artist out in the wild with his paints and brushes, easel and palette, you'll know what to call it: en plein air.