Working En Plein Air

While my focus is narrative painting in the Old Master tradition, I'm also a practitioner of portraiture, still life, and especially plein air work. En plein air I subject myself to the discipline outlined in the eighteenth century by Valenciennes: that the artist must work within a roughly two hour window of time, in order to respect the rigor of accurately capturing changing light and atmosphere. My work en plein air and the capriccios that have resulted from it were featured in his article in American Aritist magazine.


"The value of creating resemblance is passing; it is that of the brush which causes us first to marvel, and then makes the work eternal."
--Denis Diderot, "Salon de 1763"
Le merite de ressembler est passager; c'est celui du pinceau qui emerveille dans le moment et qui eternise l'ouvrage.)

While verisimilitude is an essential goal of all traditional painting, the quality of the act of painting, evident in the artist's brushstroke, was a hallmark of Old Master style and command of the medium (especially in the Venetian tradition). Working on a medium-toned ground was also a fundamental component of much seventeenth and eighteenth century Italian painting; the combination of brushstroke and ground yields a style that is at once lively and voluminous.

For more about working in the field in Italy, see the pleinairitaly blog.


The Capriccio | Plein Air watercolor

David Mayernik Ltd.