What is En Plein Air?

A Celebration of Outdoor Painting

En plein air is a French expression which means "in the open air", and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors. Artists have long painted outdoors, but in the mid-19th century working in natural light became increasingly important to multiple schools of art. The Barbizon school of France was of particular influence on the Realists, who focused their work on everyday subjects versus prominent figures.These Realists inspired the Impressionists, whose style included visible brush strokes, ordinary subject matter, and an emphasis on light in its changing qualities.

The popularity of painting en plein air increased in the 1870s with the introduction of paint in tubes, which replaced the task of grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil. It was also during this period that the "Box Easle", typically known as the French Box Easel, was invented. This development increased the ease and portability of art supplies, making treks into the forest and up the hillsides less intimidating and more appealing to those looking to paint new landscapes.

History of Plein Air in Hawaii
With western discovery came also western interpretations and artists, which included missionaries, their children and their students. Hawaii also became a destination for national and international artists who were dazzled by its exotic beauty. All of these works are highly prized and priced in today’s collector market.

Since then, beautiful landscapes and seascapes by younger favorites like David Howard Hitchcock, Henry Otto Wix, Lionel Walden, Edward Bailey and Alfred R. Gurrey as well as an increasing army of artists have captured treasured scenes throughout the islands. Dramatic natural events such as the eruptions at Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii have been preserved in the paintings of Charles Furneaux, Joseph Strong (Robert Louis Stevenson’s son-in law) and Jules Tavernier.

Museum Weblinks
1936 Waioli Mission in Hanalei
1864 Grove Farm homestead in Lihue

Grove Farm museum
4050 Nawiliwili Road, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii 96766
Tel: (808) 245-3202 | Fax: (808) 245-7988


Saim Caglayan, "Kauai Cane Field"

Pierre Bouret, "Another Day at the Office"

Jeni Prince, "Waimea Cottage"

Home | En Plein Air | Artists | Timeline | Gallery | Location Map | About Us | Contact