Just after Memorial Day weekend, the first plein air workshop for intermediate and advanced students was held at the Academic Village. The workshop was led by Kathie Odom, a plein air artist hailing from Knoxville, Tenn., who has visited Seaside a number of times over the years and has been inspired by its buildings and landscape.
“The light and the beauty are rare to find,” she said. “But how well this community is designed for creativity is its greatest asset.”
En plein air is a French expression meaning “in the open air,” and refers to the act of painting outdoors with the artist’s subject in full view. Plein air artists capture the spirit and essence of a landscape or subject by incorporating natural light, color and movement into their works.
As described by Odom’s husband, Buddy, his wife “has a backpack filled with easel, brushes and mineral spirits sitting at the back door waiting for her to load the car and head to the fields, or mountains, or waters, or anywhere that grabs her.”
Emphasis in Odom’s class was on capturing the atmosphere, light and story of the Gulf Coast and town of Seaside while enjoying evening conversation in the courtyard of the Academic Village.
There has been a resurgence of interest in plein air painting in the United States over the past 20 years. Groups of plein air artists have gathered together to paint at single locations or within certain geographic boundaries for sessions known as “paint outs.” These events give artists a chance to share their talents and creativity with the public and with one another.