Tioga River on 140
Painted in Studio, 16x12 Oil on Panel
13x30 Oil on Panel
Odiorne Point Path
Painted en plein air, 8x10 Oil on Panel
Liane Whittum is a juried member of the NH Art Association and an Associate with Distinction member of American Women Artists as well as a member of many other art organizations. She has won numerous awards for her landscape and still life work, including the Audubon Artists Inc. Award for her piece Fiori Immortali from the Salmagundi Club in New York City. Her work is available at Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville, VT and Prospect Hill Home Gallery in Sunapee, NH. To see more of Liane’s work, visit Liane Whittum Fine Art.
En Plein Air:
A Path Worth Exploring
by Liane Whittum
From Essex to Acadia and from Jefferson, NH to Jeffersonville, VT, I have painted outdoors all over New England. What started as a desire to learn how to paint landscapes has changed my life as an artist.
I first discovered my love for painting outdoors when I enrolled in a landscape drawing class while pursuing my BA in Studio Art at New England College in Henniker, NH. This was the first time I learned about working en plein air, a French phrase used to describe painting or drawing outside in the open air. Now I paint en plein air every chance I can get. I am also passionate about sharing what I have learned with other people and offer private lessons in oil painting.
The weather, bugs, and finding a place to set up are just a few elements that can make or break a plein air experience. I love to teach people how to be successful in painting outside when there are so many factors to contend with. Painting from life has become vitally important to me as an artist and I want others to experience its transformational powers. It provides invaluable lessons and reference material even if the painting doesn’t come out well. I use much of the information I gather from plein air painting when painting a studio piece of higher refinement.
I bring my plein air set up with my wherever I go. It is important to have my set-up with me at all times because utilizing small pieces of time to paint is what can make all the difference to being productive. Being a mom brings certain challenges when pursuing art. Parenting takes so much of my time, energy and emotions, and painting can be similarly demanding. Finding a way to nurture both things can be very challenging.
When I drop my daughter off at practice, even if it is only for an hour and a half, I will rush to a spot I know is a good place to paint scenery and set up as fast as I can. Doing this multiple times a day for years has forced me to change the way I paint. I have had to put down only what was absolutely necessary to make my point and do it very quickly.
In the fall when it started to get dark at 4:30 PM, I decided that I needed to learn to paint nocturnes and the harsh New Hampshire winters that seem to last forever, but both posed a problem. It was either learn to paint in the dark and in extreme cold while I waited for my daughter or not paint at all. I have found a way to take time normally spent just waiting around and make that my field study time. Some people think it is crazy to paint outside in such extreme conditions, but believe me, it is worth it. The only thing that matters is recognizing the opportunity to paint and seizing it!