May 2022 featured "en plein air" painters

Sign up now for Artistree's plein air painting group!

We meet at a different location every Friday from 9 - 12, with a friendly group of like-minded artists. Come paint, draw, or sketch outdoors June 3 - Sept. 30, 2022. Find more information and sign up here (scroll down to find the plein air group).

Painting outdoors, or en plein air, became possible around the mid- 1800's, when oil paint in tubes was invented. The most well-known practitioners were French Impressionists such as Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh. Artists paint outdoors in search of the light, the colors, shadows, and shapes that define a particular landscape. As well, they hope to capture the feeling of the location in the moment they are painting - the wind, the sky, the temperature - even perhaps the smells?

The artists highlighted below are some of our "regulars" who specialize in painting en plein air.

Jessica Fligg

Jessica is part of Artistree's Daily Artist group, and she gets out to paint nearly every day, rain or shine. She travels around the Northeast with her vintage camper/art studio in search of new sites. You can find more about her on her website, and follow her and her painting adventures on Instagram.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Holmes

Betsy, also a Daily Artist, often paints together on location with Jessica. They both participated in a January challenge to paint outside! And they both did it!! They may have had to strap their paintbrushes to their mittens and hop into a warm car every five minutes to thaw out, but the colors they were able to capture made it worth it!

Betsy says, "We are often too busy to notice the beauty around us, I'm inspired to create paintings to remind us of the splendor that is our environment."

See more of Betsy' work on her website,

Rae Newell

Every summer, Rae clears her plate from as many obligations as she can, so that she can spend as much time painting outdoors as possible. From this longtime pursuit, she has developed a unique "underpainting" technique that really makes the colors jump off the canvas, in the same way that colors are heightened on a bright sunny day.

Rae is one of Artistree's most popular instructors and will be teaching both painting and drawing this fall.
Check out some of her work in our Artists Showcase.

Gil Perry

We exhibited a small 4"x6" panel of Gil's once that was a scene of the Winooski river in the rain. We learned that he stood under an umbrella for 6 hours to capture the misty mood of that scene. He returns often to his locations to just observe how they change with the seasons and to decide at which particular moment to paint.

Gil is a real painter's painter in that each piece he creates is a lesson in painting the light. He uses what's known as a prismatic palette , first developed by Frank Vincent Dumond in the beginning of the 20th century. You can see more of Gil's exquisite work in our Artists Showcase.

Sue Schlabach

Sue paints big-sky landscapes, often in her signature turquoise color palette, with loose, expressive brushwork topped with fine details. Most of her work is started en plein air and then completed back in her studio with layers of color to bring out the light of the day. Unlike most plein air painters, Sue uses acrylics, which can be difficult outdoors as they dry much quicker than oils do. She uses special slower-drying paints but still must work rather quickly to block in her shapes.

Sue will be one of the artists featured in our upcoming exhibit, Artists of East Barnard. Find her paintings and more on her website!

Lynn VanNatta

Looking at Lynn's color-filled work, you would never know how limited her palette is. She ventures out to paint with only 1 green, 2 blues, 1 red, 3 yellows, plus white & black. Working with these few colors she creates color-drenched scenes that have a harmonious tone and brightness. She has been influenced by the Cape Ann painters and the work of Aldro Hibbard. Our exhibit in 2021, The Way We See It, featured Lynn's and Rae Newell's work and was one of our most popular shows.