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Plein Air Summer 2009

Chroma Teaching Artist Jan Blencowe is US plein air and studio painter, focusing on the beautiful New England marshes and beaches. She also travels to find interesting "spots" to use her talent, recently finishing a series based on the Hudson River.

On her website,, she writes, “There's a special something, a raw truthfulness and energy that infuses a work created through a direct encounter with the subject. Working outdoors requires one to work quickly and with confidence. Every brush stoke must be meaningful.” Jan has been painting with Atelier Interactive for over two years. She likes the creamy texture, the colors, and of course, the ability to blend. “I love Atelier Interactive because they offer such versatility, drying fast when I need them to and staying workable when I require that, even outdoors,” she said. Jan has created a series of helpful online videos about Interactive on topics such as working with a limited palette and how to mix natural greens, so check them out!

She finds the Fast Medium/Fixer to be the most useful for underpainting. Fast Medium/Fixer allows Jan to establish a value pattern in an earth color, like Transparent Red Oxide, without it mudding up the colors that go on top. Her medium of choice for skies and clouds is Thick Slow Medium, which allows for a longer working time and the feathering and blending of soft edges. She also recommends the Gloss Medium/Varnish for creating thin veils of color applied in a scumble or glaze. Her tips for beginners include sealing your surface first with Binder Medium, which creates a perfect surface for the paint to sit on without too much absorption into the canvas or panel. Work in layers and don’t thin the paint with too much water. Regarding color choices, Jan suggests, “Transparent Yellow works well for bringing sunlight into the edges of foliage and trees.”

The summer has been busy for Jan, with a plein air painting trip to the Catskill Mountains, and a paint out in Stony Creek, CT to benefit Lyme Disease. She participated in the Killingworth Art Center’s Autumn Arts Trail in Clinton, CT, October 10 -11. She recently gave an Interactive demonstration to the Manchester Art Association, and is featured in "Hudson River Landscapes" at Dominican College in Orangeburg, New York this November. An avid blogger, Facebook and Twitter user, Jan is participating in the "140 Hours of Fame Art Auction" on Twitter beginning November 5, 2009. To view more of Jan's paintings and read her musings, visit her blog at As you venture forth to paint the great outdoors in 2009, please post your images and comments to share with the Chroma Community. We always love to see what you create!

There are (3) Comments, Comments are now closed for this discussion?
  1. comment_1_7666

    Jim Cobb commented on July 6, 2009, at 5:09 pm.

    Bob Hughes, artist from the UK sent us comments about his Atelier Interactive 'en plein air ' experience to share with our readers.

    On Wednesday 24th June 2009 I went up to the Lakes District in Cumbria to do some “en plein-air” painting with a friend, Dave Worthington.

    Dave, a photographer by profession told me of a place called Rydal water were the views are spectacular, (he also took the photographs you see here). It’s also the place where Turner painted and William Wordsworth had a home very close by in Grasmere. For once, the weather forecast was spot on for the area, clear blue skies with a scattering of light clouds.

    I decided to paint an idyllic area with clear 360 degree view of the whole area. The paints I used for this painting session were Atelier Interactive acrylics, I wanted to see for myself how they reacted in the open air and in hot weather (it was about 25 degrees C, although it felt much hotter at times). I am sure if it was hot as Australia where these paints originated from and were they were designed to cope with their adverse weather conditions.

    Before starting to paint I brushed a mixture of Atelier Interactive Retarder and Liquifying Medium onto the canvas to allow me more “open time” to paint. I was painting for a period of two hours, I used the water spray and at times the “Atelier Interactive Unlocking” medium to keep the paints from drying too quickly through evaporation. I was impressed with these paints as I was half expecting them to dry up in these conditions much faster than they did.

    As expected, a number of people stopped to chat to me about the painting, they thought I was using oil paints. Two couples I spoke to were themselves artists’ and were surprised and impressed to hear that I was using acrylics in such hot conditions. One of them said as she was leaving ”there should be more artists doing this… painting “en plein-air” this place is shouting out for them”.

    To be perfectly honest, the best way to use these paints in these conditions is to use them thickly, and not to dwell too long on your painting as they will surely dry up on you. The thinly mixed areas of paint on my palette did dry up.

    I will be going back to the area in the next couple of weeks or so to paint “en plein-air” again, possibly in and around Grasmere lake All in all it was a perfect day for me and I would certainly recommend this activity to anyone looking for peace of mind.

  2. comment_2_7666

    Jim Cobb commented on July 8, 2009, at 11:50 am.

    Bob Hughes also has opened a blog on his website to discuss en plein air painting with Atelier Interactive. To add your own comments click the link

  3. comment_3_7666

    Jan Blencowe commented on September 25, 2009, at 5:57 am.

    Here are a couple more of my favorite plein airs from this summer...