Who doesn’t appreciate a painting featuring the California landscape or seascape? It’s where we live. The beauty of the state is why we live here. I have a theory that every household in California, no matter its style should have at least one plein air painting in their home.
Has the term “plein air” become a household word yet? I think back at how often I explain, “it’s the French term for painting in the open air, to paint outside.” There is always an expression of relief as they anticipate a lengthy, mysterious process that wouldn’t be understood by anyone but the artists themselves…and in French!
The artists refer to the Early California Impressionist as “the dead guys.” Of course it’s “the living artists” that reference them. As I’ve watched the contemporary movement gaining recognition and following in the footsteps of their artist ancestors, I wonder, are the contemporary artists going to exceed what was accomplished in the past? Can I fast forward and see what happens in another 100 years from now. How will this movement be documented? Are our living artists better? I’ve watched the bar being raised to a level of excellence by the finest plein air painters in the nation. All being of competitive nature, they just keep getting better.
If you were to acquire a painting now by one of the Early California Impressionist, the cost would be over a hundred thousand dollars. Yes, it could be a William Wendt or an Edger Payne but are our contemporaries as good? I believe they are. Plein air paintings are our past and future. It’s our history.