Plein Air: Home & Abroad

Jul 19, 2012

Canyon Riders by Edgar PayneSome things are meant to last.

Plein air painting may have originated in the 19th century and become a central feature of French Impressionism, but it’s a style that continues to create a powerful and moving reaction from the viewer.

On Saturday, July 28th, artist Glen Knowles will be demonstrating landscape painting in the plein air style inspired by the Pasadena Museum of California Art‘s new exhibit “Edgar Payne: The Scenic Journey.”

Payne took the picturesque and sometimes gentle aspect of French Impressionism, headed to the great outdoors and added a heavy dose of robustness, looking to capture the raw, the rugged, and the massive. He painted the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps, the California coast, the Sierras, the formidable rock formations in the Southwest, and even the Altadena Hills.

Payne’s colors were bold. He used the broken color technique and his brushwork was broad and “animated.” He never formally learned how to paint. He declared that he was self-taught, though considered “nature to be his best teacher.”

On exhibit will be 100 paintings and drawings, personalized by photographs and objects from Payne’s studio.

Artist Glen Knowles; photo by Michael Quinn

Glen Knowles is a member of the California Art Club that was founded in 1909. His says, “My parents must have known I was going to be a plein air painter as they gave me a first and last name that describe landscape features: a glen is an opening in a forest and a knoll is a small hill.” He is a 1975 graduate of Art Center College of Design. In the 1970s he “fell under the spell” of early California impressionists Edgar Payne, Guy Rose, and William Wendt. He would spend three to ten days on location to paint a scene, building the painting in thin layers of oil and always carried 7X binoculars so he could “study the elements of nature that were not visible with the naked eye.”

“I create in plein air because it is one of the most difficult and rewarding activities I have ever attempted. It tests me.…it rewards me with just enough growth and insight to keep trying….”

Art in Action: Landscape Painting Demonstration with Glen Knowles
Saturday, July 28th, 3 p.m., free with admission
Admission: adults, $7; seniors and students, $5; children under 12 are free
PMCA: 490 E. Union Street

Edgar Payne: The Scenic Journey
Exhibit runs through October 12th
Museum hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 12-5 p.m.



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