2024-09-11 – Painting En Plein Air



September 11-13 (Noon-7:00 pm CT)


Jan Norsetter


This is an in-person class held at Vesterheim Folk Art School. 


Working from life gives the plein air painter real time information that can be used on site or in the studio later. It helps to train the mind to pay attention to the essential elements of a scene and ignore the superfluous. It helps in identifying what is special about the scene you want to paint. The bonus is that you’re outside! When we are outside we are “burning daylight.” There’s a certain amount of discipline that comes with plein air since the light is continuously changing. We learn to capture the essence of a scene and do it with intention and eventually some speed.

Outdoor painting has been around since the early 1800s when artists rejected the contrived landscapes of their predecessors and turned to nature for inspiration. A small group of Englishmen, most notably John Constable and Joseph William Mallord Turner, first produced finished works direct from nature. In 1824, John Constable’s paintings View on the Stour (1819) and The Hay Wain (1821) were exhibited at the prestigious Salon in Paris, winning gold medals. These works had a profound influence on the course of landscape painting in the 19th century. In France, Jean Batiste Camille Corot also painted scenes forgoing romanticized views.

We will start each day at noon and spend the first hour or so in the classroom while the sun is high in the sky. There will be lecture time plus questions and answers. A demo will follow. We’ll trade our classroom for the great outdoors after that and set up for painting en plein air. At the end of each day we will gather in the classroom to check out everyone’s work – an informal critique.

If it rains we will paint indoors from photos and we will examine the shortcomings and advantages of that method.

Topics that will be covered:

  • Composition
  • Thumbnail sketches
  • Loosening up painting exercises
  • Color mixing
  • Value
  • Shapes
  • Brush selection
  • Brush care
  • Painting solvent-free

Because the lighting for painting is better either early morning or late afternoon we will be outside in the afternoons and take advantage of the late light. We’ll aim for painting two paintings per day plus the warm up exercises, so you can experience the light angles that so many painters are attracted to.



Click here to view the full supply list.

Enrollment Deadline: 

August 21, 2024


Click here to learn more about instructor Jan Norsetter.


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Tuition :
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