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John at Luxemburg gardens

By Jonathon Williams

In France during the late 1800s, a small group of young artists started a new way of seeing life and painting that would soon be known worldwide as Impressionism.

Growing tired of academic teaching, some of them were looking to paint from life, to capture the moment, leaving their studios for the outdoors and with the new paints that came in tubes. They hoped to paint the feeling of a particular moment, to convey atmosphere, colors, movement.

Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, and Alfred Sisley all felt this urge to paint in plein air. We can thank them for their avant-garde work and for giving us this new way of working. Plein air painting is a glorious way to express your passion.

Today, plein air events are part of the largest painting movement in the United States. Town after town holds festivals and competitions, and sponsors artists from all over to paint and share the camaraderie of fellow artists. Many artists hold workshops in all states, cities, and great locations across Europe, taking painters to learn and experience a vacation with art. Here in San Miguel de Allende, there are very few plein air painters who spend time painting outdoors. The number is slowly growing, although many find photos and their computer screen too convenient. But nothing brings you closer to nature and real life as painting outside.

You are welcome to join me for coffee and a conversation about plein air and painting in general. Email me at or WhatsApp me at 415 102 1298.


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