Blog


Happy New Year Year 2017!

Happy Holidays!

"Moody Watercolors"

Autumn Colors in Watercolor Workshop

Watercolor Seascapes Workshop at Sandy Hook Beach, NJ

Welcome Back! Looking Forward to Seeing You in My Class or on a Workshop

A Week of Drawing Fun for Young Artists

"Painting in the Open Air" 2016

Looking Forward to Watercoloring with You in 2016!

October Plein Air Workshops

Week-Long Drawing Class for Young Artists

"Summer Watercolors"

Painting Summer Greens & Trees in Watercolor Workshop

Spring Plein Air Watercolor Workshops

Lake Champlain Watercolor Workshop (in partnership with Shelburne Craft School)

Season Greetings!

The Ogden Minton Pleissner Gallery

Watercolor Workshop at the East Hampton Art Association

It's the Perfect Time for an Autumn Colors Watercolor Workshop!

"Plein Air Watercolors" at the Ridgewood Art Institute

My Classes at the Ridgewood Art Institute will Resume on September 3rd & 4th

Join me on a Watercolor Workshop in Central Park, NYC & Shelburne Farms, VT

Weeklong Drawing Summer Session for Young People

Painting Summer Greens & Trees Watercolor Workshop at Ringwood Manor

"Peaceful Places"

Happy Birthday Anders Zorn!

Watercolor Trivia

Wishing You a Wonderful Holiday Season!

"Wintry Mix"

"Ivory" Black Friday for the Art Lover

The NJWCS Silver Medal of Honor

"Not So Plain": Plein Air Painting

Watercolor Painting Trips, Summer 2013

John Singer Sargent Watercolors

Join Me for a Watercolor Demonstration at the Salmagundi Club In New York City on April 16th

Happy New Year!

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Art Lover

The Sol App and the Golden Hour

Can Art Promote Healing?

Come Join Me on a Watercolor Workshop

The Complete Painter's Handbook

American Watercolor Society Membership

Watercolor Palettes

Real Men Use Magic Eraser

91st Annual Exhibition of the National Watercolor Society and Traveling Exhibit

Exhibitions to Check Out!

Watercolors of Acadia

Cold Hands, Warm Palette

Watercolor Reflections & Resolutions

Holiday Greetings!

Ten Great Movies about Art & Artists

Isabellas Free….Forever!


"Plein Air" Sketch by Joel Popadics, "Waves at Pemaquid Point, Maine"

"Not So Plain": Plein Air Painting

Sun, Sep 1st, 2013


I have a stack of "Plein Air" sketches from my travels this summer, since I painted and taught on locations ranging from California to New York to the easternmost reaches of Maine. I was also an artist in residence at Shelburne Farms on the shore of Lake Champlain, in Vermont. I call them "sketches," but they are really smaller watercolors, created on the spot with enough information on which to base larger paintings.

Early in my career, we called it "paintin' out." Just wondering, now, when it became fancy and we started calling it en Plein Air painting...The French phrase en Plein Air literally means "to paint in the open air." Corot, Harpignies, Millet and many other French Impressionists, along with artists from the Barbizon School, were among the first in the history of art to study nature in this way.

Throughout the years, I painted alone, as well as with students – with old friends and new. Perhaps, closest to my heart were the times I set up my easel with my teenage sons, Luke and Andrew. This summer, I traveled a lot with Luke, my oldest son, before he starts on his own path as an artist. This month, he will begin his studies at Visual Arts in New York City, my Alma Mater. How proud I am of him! In July, he and I watercolored on location at Pemaquid Point, Maine. Seventeen years ago, I painted a lighthouse there, where Luke took his very first steps for his mom. A really cool moment for this artist/dad! In the quiet, fishing village of Cutler, Maine, one of the most remote points in the United States, I peacefully painted in a cove, watching fishermen come and go as the water receded at low tide. When I returned to New Jersey, I was delighted to discover that it was the same spot where my good friend and teacher, John Phillip Osborne, stood and painted over 40 years earlier. In mid-August, I captured shapes and rhythms in the fields and lay of the land at Shelburne Farms, which added a spatial depth and movement to my compositions. Only days earlier, during my Central Park Workshop in New York City, I perceived similar patterns in the park's landscape design and used them in my demos there. No coincidence, since Frederick Law Olmsted was the landscape designer of both Central Park and Shelburne Farms. A neat connection!

In and of itself, Plein Air painting is a journey. Painting outdoors presents a challenge, as conditions are constantly changing. Not unlike life! In June, I will never forget my first attempt (in all the years I've been painting) of a snow-capped Sierra Mountain, a view of Mount Tallac from Bristlecone Beach in Lake Tahoe, California. There, I discovered that a slightly loaded brush with a minimal amount of pressure applied to a sheet of rough-textured paper, convincingly created the shapes of a snowy ridge.Bristlecone Beach Overlooking Mt. Tallac I also did what could be called Lumière de la Lune Peinture – my first attempt at a moonlight painting, as well as a "bucket-list" item. Picture me with my group of students stumbling around a pasture in the middle of an August night at Shelburne Farms, with flashlights in one hand and brushes in the other, trying to figure out the proper value of trees in rays of moonlight - lots of fun, howls and laughs.

I've known artists who paint on location with the sole purpose of creating a finished work ready for a frame. My objective with Plein Air has always been different. As with travel, painting is a process, and Plein Air brings that process to the fore. Sure, I admit to occasionally doing something on the spot that's frame-worthy. But, more often, the purpose for my sketches leads to a larger, more ambitious effort in the studio. In fact, many Hudson River School artists, such as Thomas Moran and William Troast Richards, based their masterpieces on watercolor studies completed on location at the Grand Canyon, or deep in the Adirondack wilderness.

I try to hold on to my studies from the field. I treasure the work I do on location, especially when I might not get back to the area for a while. The sketches, which I keep for myself, are sentimental - vivid reminders of the day, memories of friends and family I painted with, and sources of valuable reference for years to come. They are also a gauge that measures my progress. And sometimes I just paint en Plein Air for the exercise.

I follow the example of teachers and artists before me, so I use my sketches for my ideas. I'm in a hurry now, eager to get to work on them, perhaps to finish a few. I don't want to wait too long; I want to work while the scenes/recollections are still fresh in my mind. While doing this, I consider my family, my colleagues, and others who have helped, along the way.

Be sure to return to the gallery of new works on my website to see how I progress!