The other day I saw an online post of a group of paintings that raised several questions. The first was why was this gallery posting this picture of this group of paintings on Facebook? The paintings were all plein air paintings of the Fox Valley where I live. The paintings were dull, lifeless scenes of places I know well. Places full of life. Places locals are proud of, places where locals have put work into showing their love for their hometown.
The gallery said, "they're all plein air paintings and are all of local scenes." That brings me to my second question - Is " en Plein Air " enough of a reason to qualify an artist worthy of being in a gallery? These works lack any sort of design or composition. The drawing was off and they look like they were done from poor photos. So why had this gallery taken this artist on? Because he wasn't local. Seems the gallery had been stung several times by local artists using them for showing their art, then pulling pieces out to sell direct to a client, cutting out the gallery's commission. So they took this artist on from across the country who was passing through on a plein air painting trip. Just passing through - he has no real sense of our valley or of us. So his paintings are simple paintings with no real feelings.
Not all plein air artists miss the real sense of place. Most good ones take the time to get to know a place, to know the people, to see the pride in what they are painting. Artists travel to paint and learn, and those that do produce some amazing paintings.