SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — If you see someone painting outside in one of San Angelo’s many scenic spots during the coming days, you may be witnessing an “en plein air” artist crafting their magnum opus for this year’s EnPleinAirTexas international competition.
The event is hosted by the titular EnPleinAirTexas organization, a group founded just over a century ago that met with one common goal: to meet fellow artists and make art outdoors.
“In 1921, in tiny Christoval, just south of San Angelo, local artists founded the Texas Artists Camp, which grew to be one of the leading plein air gatherings in the Southwest,” according to EnPleinAirTexas. “100 years later, the same inspiration that attracted those early painters when they arrived ‘way out west’ is alive today. EnPleinAirTEXAS is a legend among the plein air artist community and now in its 10th year, one of the top 5 plein air competitions in the country, attracting award-winning artists from around the world.”
En plein air, or “plein air,” is a French term that means “in the open air.” As its translation suggests, artists take their easels, paints and palettes away from the walls of their studios and make for the open skies to paint whatever strikes their fancy underneath the open skies.
According to EnPleinAirTexas, en plein air has its roots in the mid-1800s when Impressionist artists began painting on-site for their artwork. This shift to the great outdoors came to pass because “prior to the invention of the metal tube in the 1840s, most landscapes were painted in the artists’ studios as they had no way to store or transport their hand-mixed paints.”
“Today, artists seek to capture that same intriguing light and shadow outdoors and gather in ‘plein air’ events across the country, turning ordinary scenes into extraordinary works of art,” EnPleinAirTexas said.
This year’s competition marks the 10th year of the contest’s history, and the event is just as lively as ever. The event begins on Thursday, Oct. 19, with competing artists traveling to private West Texas ranches. These artists will paint for three days with no access to the public, leaving them undisturbed to paint.
From there, a welcome party will be held for the contestants on Sunday, Oct. 22, where event sponsors and friends of EnPleinAirTexas can meet the aspiring artists. Monday, Oct. 23, will see the painters take to the entirety of San Angelo for free painting, with free painting continuing until the end of Wednesday.
More events will occur throughout the week, giving the competitors a chance to flex their creative muscles at a variety of exciting locations throughout San Angelo.
The EnPleinAirTexas competition concludes on Saturday, Oct. 28. For a full list of the contest’s scheduled events, see the competition’s online schedule. For a sneak peek at this year’s contestants and a sample of their previous artwork, see the 2023 competition’s list of artists.