Plein as day

About 115 plein air painters descended on the region this week to take part in Plein Air magazine’s Plein Air Invitational.

The painters have spent their days marching through the woods, easels in hand, to paint local forests, mountains and waterways.

Plein air artists Anne Bishop and Mary Nolan, both from Cooperstown, spent 45 minutes Thursday afternoon with their paintbrushes pointed toward Whiteface and the surrounding mountains. It is the challenge, as much as the fresh air, that draws the sisters to plein air.

“You have no control over the light, or the temperature, or the bugs,” Nolan said. “Everything is a challenge, and you have to paint fast, if you can.”

Nolan said that’s why she and Bishop decided to spend only 45 minutes in each location. The upside to the challenges, Bishop added, is that plein air gives the artist a better feel for the subject.

“Getting a better feel for the subject just makes it more interesting,” Bishop said. “Once you get outside painting, you just have to keep doing it. It’s very relaxing, even though you’re thinking deeply.”

The sisters also said they’ve painted at St. Regis Falls, and got to experience early morning mist at a nearby bog.

“Atmosphere is another thing,” Bishop said. “You get that wonderful atmosphere during different times of the day. You don’t get that in a studio.”

Bishop said she has only been to the Adirondacks once before, during a visit to Lake Placid. It was Nolan’s first time visiting the region. Both said it wouldn’t be their last time here.

“It’s so exciting, even if all you do is make a mess,” Bishop said. “It’s just so much fun.”