10 Places Every Artist Needs to Plein Air Paint

For when you need to get outside and paint!

Spring is upon us and it's time to take those easels, canvases, pads, paints and brushes outside! The days are quickly warming up, so leave those dark studios behind and step into the sunlight for en plein air painting . 

What is plein air painting you ask? "En Plein air" is simply a French term for "in the open air", meaning to paint outside in nature. Famous plein air painters include Claude Monet, Georgia O'Keefe, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Winslow Homer. The best thing about plein air painting is that anyone can do it. With tools like the easily portable Jullian Escort French Easel, some Charvin Extra-Fine Artists' Acrylic paints, or maybe even just a notebook you can paint on, like the new Artist Survival Book to pack away in your carrying SoHo Boat Bag, you can go straight outdoors and start painting.

However, if you want to find the best places on the planet for plein air painting, you might need some transportation. Here are some of the best places for en plein air painting around the world!

10. Mt. Ranier, Washington, USA

Mt Ranier from Gand Park, plein air by Robin Weiss, oil colors


9. Tuscany, Italy


Across the Isthmus #2, plein air by Julie Houck


8. Paris, France


Pont Alexander III in the Rain, plein air by Marc Dalessio, oil on panel


7. The Southwest, USA


Bell Rock, plein air by Steve Simon, oil on canvas (Bell Rock, Arizona)


6. Napa Valley, California, USA


Hurried Shadows at Eventide, plein air by Ellen Boulanger


5. Oia, Santorini, Greece



Santorini, Oia, Greece, plein air by Patrick Faulwetter


4.  Yosemite, California, USA


Fishing on the Merced River, plein air by Thomas Hill


3. Maui, Hawaii, USA


Maui Mosaic, plein air by Ken Auster


2. Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA


Grand Canyon, plein air by Kein McCain


1. Bali, Indonesia


Tanah Lot, plein air by Saiman Dullah, oil on canvas


Want to know what to take with you when you tackle the outdoors? Check out our handy guide from The Splatter: Plein Air Art- Create Art Anywhere 

Where was the most beautiful place you've ever painted en plein air? Do you have any other locations to add to our list? Tell us in the comments below!



A Jerry's Online Street Team Art Project with Mark A. Nelson

Artist Mark Nelson - Fantasy Drawing Walk-Through


Materials Mark Nelson used:

"Toned Paper Drawing" by Mark A. Nelson

Step 1:

For me, I start to develop the forms of the figures with just line/contour. I try to get a feel for the lights and darks by the line weight. In other words, I apply more pressure to the pencils and create a heavier, darker line and then lighten that pressure to give it less weight. I try not to to create a constant line around the figures, but one that with thick and thin can start to develop the light direction also. 

Step 2:

I am going to use the three steps of creating space. The Foreground which is closest to the viewer, the Middle ground is the mid-level of the stage and finally the Background which is the last layer. So if you think of the picture plane in these three levels, it does not matter how deep your space is, it can easily be broken down into these elements. The second step in this process is light. I am going to have a dark object in the foreground, my major lights and focal point will be in the middle ground and the back ground will be the second darkest area. So now I'm rendering this as a darker form.

Step 3: 


The background is started, and here I try to keep the values closer. To create a softer background I will restrict the values and keep them close in range. 

Step 4:


I'm starting to bring in detail to the middle ground. This is the area I will want the viewer to look at first. It will be the focal point of the whole panel. So it will have the strongest lights, darks and the most visible detail in the drawing (also having the biggest value range). 

Step 5:

Working still from the background forward, I try to keep the first two figures softer and darker, and then, adding more detail and surface decoration tot he second and third figure. The figure closest is still the darkest.

Step 6: 


Balanced out all the value and line work and next the whites, highlights, and touch ups to make the Foreground, Middleground and Background work together.

Step 7:


The whites are now added and adjustments made to make the space work. I've tried to make you look at the two mid-ground figures. They have the brightest lights, darkest darks and most visible details. Foreground and background have closer value and some small highlights, but not as bold as the middle ground.

Mark A. Nelson is known world-wide for his body of work done in a style which has been described as "carefully articulated". Mr. Nelson's artworks have graced the pages of many Dungeons & Dragons books as well as Dragon Magazine. He has provided illustrations for Magic: The Gathering. He has worked extensively in the comics' industry as well. Mark A. Nelson's work on the very first ALIENS series from Dark Horse is still an iconic fan favorite. Mr. Nelson will be teaching one 90 min. Master Class per day on "Creature Creation" at the Jerry's Artrama Art Classroom (Location WSCC Level 2, Rm 211) at the Emerald City Comic Con (See Jerry's Artarama at the Emerald City Comiccon in Seattle for more details). Mark is honored to be this year's "Emerald City Gaming Guest Artist". He will be appearing daily in the Sheraton's Metropolitan Ballroom at Booth B7 in the Gamer's Area at the Sheraton during the Convention.


Jerry's Artarama at the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle

Jerry's will be hosting classes and contests throughout the weekend


The Emerald City Comiccon is celebrating its 12th year in Seattle, Washington March 28-30th, 2014. This year Jerry's Artarama's Comic and Illustrative Division will be will be teaching classes, handing out prizes and  will even be hosting a Quick Draw Contest! 

Karalyn and Company will be back on the convention scene and are ready for all kinds of excitement. Karayln and others have been attending conventions all over the country this year empowering artists by offering classes, sponsoring art contests, and supporting charities. Karalyn C. Johnson, Jerry's Artarama's Director of Comic and Illustrative Division, has been hitting the convention scene for some time as a professional illustrator, sculptor, multimedia artist and technical expert and consultant. She will be out and working the floor with her team alongside Strathmore, Artograph and Prismacolor

During the Emerald City Comiccom, she'll be running several events from Jerry's in the "Jerry's Artarama Art Classroom" (WSCC Level 2, room 211) including:

  • Markers and More- taught by Karalyn Johnson. Demonstrating the endless possibilities for textural and atmospheric effects when using markers mixed with other media.
  • To Break Creative Block: Press Play- taught by Karalyn Johnson. This class uses an amalgam of media unfamiliar to the artist to challenge and enable them to learn in fun ways to break "creative block."With games, new mediums, and unfamiliar supplies, the artists will learn spark their imaginations and creativity in a new, fun and effective way.
  • Creature Creation- taught by Mark A. Nelson. Mark is the owner and artist of Grazing Dinosaur Press. He is well accomplished in the fantasy field with his artwork featured in Magic: the Gathering, Wizards of the Coast, Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft. In Creature Creation, Mark will be teaching one 90 minute master class per day on creating your own creatures. 
  • Quick Draw Contest- Sponsored by Jerry's Artarama, Saturday March 29th with fun prizes offered.
  • ECCC Kid's Art Corner- including the Lil' Jerry Coloring contest featuring fun prizes for children. 
  • Jerry's will be supplying amazing art supplies and more for the classes and events


Jerry's will also be sponsoring a Live Art Event at Club Q. THe upscale Club Q is the site of the vent which will feature live models onstage for artists also stationed onstage at easels to paint the models in front of a roaring crowd. The event will also have music and dancing, and even an auction where the art created on stage will be auctioned off to guests. The proceeds from the auction at Club Q will be donated to the Seattle Children's Hospital. 

This year, the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle promises to be bigger and better than ever featuring artists, actors, voice talents and more special guests as well as tons of events and panels for guests. Jerry's Artarama is happy to sponsor such a great event. The event is already SOLD OUT so if you are going to attend, stop by the Jerry's Artarama Art Classroom at the Washington State Convention Center Level 2, room 211 and take a class with one of our fabulous teachers, enter a contest or even just say hi.

Big thanks to Michael Byers(Emerald City Comicon | Programming & Events Director) and Karlayn Johnson (Jerry's Convention Services )

We look forward to working with all the students, teachers and the fine staff at Emerald City Comicon.

We look forward to seeing you there!


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