The Philosophy of Visionary Plein Air Art


I’m a passionate plein air artist who paints from life. I capture the scene on the spot, and then return to the studio filled with the images, smells, sounds, and feel of the sun and wind in my mind. Not bound by reality, I strive to create impressions of light and color from those memories – both visual and visceral. The result is a form of poetic realism that I describe as “visionary” plein air art. The resulting paintings are vibrant beyond even the “life” of plein air.

How do you paint sounds, smells, and touch? Think about it for a moment – how the redolent smells of the rich moist earth and wild sage in the California hills change your perceptions of a scene, as opposed to the crisp salty air of a windswept ocean vista. Think of the sound of the wind moving through the grass and stirring the leaves or the crackling of bared branches tapping together on a chilled winter morning. Although they are not things you see, these smells and sounds are just as influential on how you perceive a scene as what you actually see. The caress of the wind on your face or the warmth of the sun on the back of your neck are no less important. When you are outdoors, you experience a scene through your five senses, not just your eyes. It is those other four senses that give vibrancy beyond life to the scene when you are actually there, and it is their absence that takes life away from so many otherwise well executed paintings. You may not “see” their absence in a painting, but you absolutely “feel” it.

This is what I capture on canvas -- the vibrancy of the five senses breathing life into my paintings.

And others seem to see it, too.

My friend, Adrian Gottlieb, pronounced while viewing my paintings in a gallery, “Your paintings have sound, like the wind gently blowing through the grass. Very peaceful!”