Plein Air Paintings Through the Seasons
In the tradition of the Barbizon School and the Impressionists, “en plein air”, or painting on location in the out of doors, is about capturing the light and atmosphere, the time of day and sense of place. Susiehyer says, “I try to keep it to an hour or so because as the light changes so fast, the colors and values will also be changing, sometimes quite dramatically. The painter must stay focused on the original intention of the painting or he/she will be chasing the light and the painting will never be resolved. While it is challenging and great fun, it can also be quite frustrating especially if the sun is going in and out, as on a cloudy day. I paint in all kinds of conditions, from standing in the cold and snow in the late hours of the night, to the sweltering heat of the tropics, to sitting in the back of the car with the hatch open because it may be raining or snowing (or the hatch is closed because of the windy conditions.)”
“I paint working on a pochade box or portable easel, most of the time using the Daytripper easel , but sometimes I use a French easel if the work is larger than 18×24. Its pretty important to have my supplies be really portable, especially when what I want to paint is a few miles of hiking away. I also love painting right next to my car, where I can have the full range of materials and supplies available to me, since I never really know what size or format I am going to paint until I look around and settle on my idea for the painting.”
For a landscape painter, working plein air allows one to become part of the landscape, the painter and the painted to have an intimate connection. These plein air paintings and sketches, along with photographs, may become reference material for Susiehyer to take back in the studio to make larger paintings. However, most of the plein air paintings stand alone as finished works of art in and of themselves.