OPS was formed to create opportunities and incentives for artists of like mind to come together and paint ...........En Plein Air



Visit often to read about various topics including plein air tips and exhibition reviews. 

Posts are authored by OPS members and guest artists.

  • August 06, 2017 5:48 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    This post is by OPS Signature Master, John Pototschnik - More images and a video can be viewed on his blog:


    In last week’s blog post I introduced you to Richard Goetz (1915-1991). Goetz, living during the worldwide artistic revolution of abstract expressionism, firmly held to the belief that painting is one of the highest forms of aesthetic self-expression, and therefore can be a meaningful mode of communication. He was saddened that a lack of solid technical training, among young artists, was producing “bizarre and unorthodox materials and forms.”

    “Without solid training, a painter will lack the ability to communicate to his audience in an understandable way.” That lack, Goetz believes, has tended to “rob the art world of its standards and prompted the viewer to mistake works that are merely different for authentic examples of creativity.”

    Goetz was a figurative, landscape, and still life painter but believed in appropriating the abstract forms found in nature to create shapes and patterns of color that conveyed an understandable message. He did that particularly well when painting still life, so I want to share with you some of his thoughts concerning still life painting, as excerpted from the March 1969, American Artist magazine that featured his work.

    Richard V. Goetz - "The Invaders"

    Richard V. Goetz – “The Invaders”


    “When arranging the still life, one should always concentrate on shapes, colors, lines, rhythms and undulations the objects make, without thinking in terms of storytelling. However, when possible, it is better to use related objects, studying many paintable items to find the near exact element needed for the composition as a whole. I usually spend more time on arrangement and composition than on painting, trying to create as much as possible in the grouping itself, without hesitating to change colors or forms in getting a better composition or a desired effect while painting.

    “Lighting has a particularly important effect on composition, especially in establishing a mood. The big elements of the composition can be controlled by light, as much as the objects selected for the composition. Areas may be placed in shadow by erecting a screen to obstruct the light, evoking emphasis and drama. The angle and direction of light can also control the amount of form you wish to give objects, a light coming from the side will give more form than a light coming from the front.

    “Light coming from a large window will give a soft effect. When the source is a smaller area, such as a single light bulb, the edges will be more clearly defined and the contrasts greater. The combination of artificial and natural light gives a still different effect.”


    “As I am arranging a still life setup, I begin to sketch the big patterns of lights and darks on a piece of charcoal paper, using the flat side of a large stick of charcoal and white chalk. In this manner I am able to work out the large abstract patterns of lights and darks, lines, movements, space relations, undulations, and all the other elements of composition. I usually work out the general idea of the composition in the setup before working with the charcoal and chalk and, as something is added or changed, I work it into the composition on the charcoal paper.”

    Goetz experimented often with various brushes, painting techniques, mediums, and painting supports. He believed this should be done until one finds that which responds best to their temperament, ideas, and gives the desired effect. “Over and over one sees articles or books dealing with the secret formulas of the old masters. The secret was probably in the rigid training and hard work they went through, because we certainly have a greater variety of materials to work with now than they had.”

    Surprisingly, Goetz had a minimum of 25 oil colors on his palette. He believed a limited palette complicated color mixing, because, for example, it is simpler to pick up green than to mix blue and yellow together. The more colors you use, the greater variety you can attain, while reducing the mixing time. He did believe however that the beginner should use fewer colors at the start; then, as he becomes familiar with the various colors, continue adding a greater variety to his palette.


    ‘I believe that the French impressionists made the only great contribution to art since the time of the Dutch masters, but they were also responsible for the loss of craftsmanship in painting. If craftsmanship could be regained and added to the great lessons of color and light of the impressionsists, together with the new ideas and inventiveness of contemporary painters, art would take a significant step forward.’


    Once the composition was thoroughly worked out and transferred to the canvas, Goetz added a tone to canvas or panel and wiped out the light areas with a rag. That served as the first lay-in of paint, and required only a few minutes. “This method should not be confused with some of the elaborate underpainting methods of the past, but should be regarded as a simple and effective way to make a final check on composition, obtaining a clear image of what the finished painting will be like, and controlling the accuracy of the first colors applied.” By using this method, he was able to reduce the amount of time needed for painting a picture.

    “The tone can be any color, but raw umber is usually best. If you want a low-keyed painting, more tone can be left on, while a thinner coat is left for a high-keyed painting. Warmth and coolness of the painting may be controlled by using burnt sienna for a warmer effect, or terre-verte for a cooler one.


    “In the preliminary steps of drawing and toning you may include too much detail and finish; so, to restrain this tendency, paint-in the largest masses, eliminating all detail and minor color changes. The painting should always start with the largest masses of color. If possible, simplify an object by dividing it into two masses – light and shadow. The masses of color must always be related to each other and seen in terms of the light conditions under which you are painting. This is the lesson learned from the French impressionists, especially Monet.

    “Our natural tendency is to see things in terms of local color, not in terms of light. Overcoming this inclination is one of the most challenging aspects of painting. It requires study of how light affects mass, exaggerating the color of light and lessening the local color, until we begin to see color as it actually is under certain light conditions. Our job as artists is not to see things as the layman does, but to develop a visual perception so that we can sensitively interpret the true color of light.

    “Indoor painting will require only three basic kinds of light: artificial, sunny, and overcast. Out-of-doors you get many more light changes, but they are easier to see. It is therefore much better to study color by painting out-of-doors, where the effect of light on objects is more obvious, before trying the more difficult and subtle indoor effects. A simple still life set up in full sunlight is best to start with, followed by the less obvious gray day study, and finally, an indoor arrangement.

    “After the lay-in of the painting in its basic masses, I proceed to the next step – breaking down the masses into secondary changes, with two or three divisions in each general mass. From there on I subdivide each color into smaller changes, until the painting is carried to the degree of finish I wish to present.”

  • August 01, 2017 12:35 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    The following is a post by Master Signature~Emeritus JOHN POTOTSCHNIK: 

    Note:  To view John's post on his personal blog and to see images and videos that accompanied this blog, visit http://www.pototschnik.com/art-training-and-communication/ 

    Art training and communication

    Posted on July 30, 2017

    As I’ve stated a few times, I am fortunate to have available to me some great articles from the American Artist magazine of 50-70 years ago. It was a time that abstract expressionism had a stronghold upon American art, but there were some that stood their ground against all odds and produced work of profound quality.

    I was just graduating from college in 1968 and know firsthand the division that existed in the art department between those that were producing “modern” work and those producing, what was termed “trite”…that is, representational painting.

    Richard V. Goetz, a figurative, landscape, and still life painter, was featured in the March 1969 issue of American Artist. I want to share with you his thoughtful comments regarding how solid art training informs our ability to effectively communicate visually. I have taught my students this for years, so it’s always nice to see it confirmed by others.

    Here are some excerpts from that interview…and the videos are excellent.

    “To me, painting is one of the highest forms of aesthetic self expression, and can be a most meaningful mode of communication. However, to express and to communicate to the fullest extent one should equip himself with adequate technical knowledge. To a great extent, too many artists do not, and so lack the ability to convey their artistic ideas. Thus, leaning on the use of bizarre and unorthodox materials and forms, instead of a solid technical background, many contemporary painters fails to take full advantage of the communicative value of art.

    “The situation has tended to rob the art world of its standards and prompted the viewer to mistake works that are merely different for authentic examples of creativity. Unfortunately, the artist who uses a realistic technical proficiency is often thought to be uncreative, and only artists of the past are excused fro doing realistic work based on correct technical principles.”


    ‘To me, painting is one of the highest forms of aesthetic self expression, and can be a most meaningful mode of communication.’


    “To re-establish these standards we must first see that students are well-grounded in a knowledge of drawing, design, and color, as were the great artists of the past.

    “No matter how much technical ability one might possess, this alone does not make an artist. What one has to say aesthetically is really all that counts. However, one can express these emotions only to the degree that his technical and mechanical knowledge will allow. If one could not read or write, he certainly could not produce a great novel, no matter what his other qualifications might be.”


    ‘What one has to say aesthetically is all that counts.’


    “The art schools of today, especially university art departments (my emphasis), have had great success in teaching and stimulating the creative aspects of art, but many have failed to equip the student with the technical ability to express himself in an intelligible way. Therefore, art has gone from one ridiculous extreme to another, and now we have many painters with great ideas, who lack the ability to execute them by comprehensible means.”


    “I believe that the purpose of the painter is not to render a two-dimensional illustration of his subject, but to observe the aesthetic qualities of nature, and interpret and arrange these elements in an understandable, yet artistic, way.

    “The purpose of painting should be of an abstract nature, enabling the artist to use elements of the subject that create patterns and shapes of color that convey a message beyond prettiness or cheap sentiment.

    “I believe that composition is the most important element in painting.”

    Note:  To view the original post which contains images and videos, visit John's website blog: http://www.pototschnik.com/art-training-and-communication/  

  • July 24, 2017 9:51 AM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    The following is a blog post authored by OPS Master Signature John Pototschnik:

    Helpful thoughts about color

    Posted on July 23, 2017

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same”…as the saying goes…certainly applies to many art related principles.

    Some years ago when I was actively involved in Artists and Craftsmen Associated (ACA), I was befriended by Vi Froman, the wife of ACA founder, Ray Froman. I never had the opportunity to meet Ray but Vi, over the years, graced me with several books, magazines, sketches, and paintings from Ray’s studio. I’ve referenced articles from some of the early American Artist magazines in this blog.

    Artist and featured writer, Russell Cowles, made some interesting comments concerning color in the April 1949 issue that I think still apply, and will therefore instruct and/or reinforce some important principles when working with color.

    Anders Zorn (1860-1920) - "Emma Zorn and Mouch, the dog" - 38.39" x 26.57" - Oil (1902)

    Anders Zorn (1860-1920) – “Emma Zorn and Mouch, the dog” – 38.39″ x 26.57″ – Oil (1902)


    “The business of color is complicated. While it is probable that the supreme masters of color are “born that way,” I am certain that whatever native gift they may have has been developed through training. Our painters seem to me to submit willingly to self-discipline in drawing, composition, organization of their pictures in light and dark balance, but to leave the matter of color to feeling or “instinct.” The result is usually accidental or capricious.”

    Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) - "The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons" - 127" x 166" - Oil (1789)

    Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) – “The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons” – 127″ x 166″ – Oil  (1789)


    “If you decide to train yourself as an artist, I see no reason why your use of color should be the one anarchistic element in your work. Emphasizing again the prime necessity of developing the greatest possible sensibility of the eye, without which no system or theory of color will do any good, and disclaiming any interest in color systems good or bad, I still think that certain things about color, the result of long experience by many artists, can be stated for the benefit of others.

    “Perhaps the first of these is the balance of cool and warm colors. Cool and warm are relative terms.”


    ‘A neutral gray alongside a hot red will feel cool, while the same gray next to a cold blue will feel warm.’


    “Neutral tones, incidentally, are extremely important, so much so in fact that a fine colorist can almost be distinguished by the way he uses neutrals in modifying and balancing his strong colors.”

    Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) - "Lake George" - 10.24" x 19.59" - Oil (1862)

    Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) – “Lake George” – 10.24″ x 19.59″ – Oil  (1862)


    “Next in importance might be the use of a dominant color. Everybody knows the old gag of what would happen if an irresistible force met an immovable body. The answer can be found in most any large art exhibit. When a picture contains two opposing colors, each in  its fullest intensity, and of relatively equal quantity and importance, a conflict occurs that must destroy the unity of the picture in spite of anything the painter can do about it. The answer is that one color should dominate the others, just as one form in a composition must dominate the rest.”


    ‘A saturated color in a small area may balance a large area of another less saturated color in a way that does not destroy the picture unity.’


    “Two opposing colors that clash when adjacent to each other often live happily in the same picture when separated by a neutral area. Strongly opposing colors set up a tension between them, and such tensions should not occur in haphazard fashion in a picture, but should be reserved for the occasions when needed.”

    Peder Severin Kroyer (1851-1909) - "Almuerzo con Otto Benson" - Oil (1893)

    Peder Severin Kroyer (1851-1909) – “Almuerzo con Otto Benson” – Oil  (1893)


    “When beginning a painting, decide what is to be the dominant color, and stick to that decision. Then perhaps try another sketch with the same palette, but choosing one of the other colors as the dominant.”

  • April 15, 2017 6:46 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    This is a note to OPS from Barbara Rallo, Co-Chair of En Plein Air Texas - EPAT is an excellent plein air event and if you "make the cut", you're guaranteed to have a great time painting in San Angelo!  

    Hello Plein Air Artists!


    May 1st, is the deadline for applications to the 2017 EnPleinAirTEXAS (EPAT), and if you haven't already applied this year, we hope you will consider it SOON!


    With outstanding sales each of our three years (last year’s topping $220,000!), we’ve quickly become known as one of the top events in the country.  We love taking care of ‘our’ artists, and each year enjoy the first-timers as well as the returning artists.  Host homes, lots of community support, unlimited vistas for inspiration, and food & parties, are just part of the reason our artists leave full of smiles.


    Kenn Backhaus is our juror for 2017, and Roger Dale Brown will be the Awards Judge for this year.


    News for 2017 ~ 


    Optional Pre-event Paint-Out in nearby Ballinger and surrounding towns on Saturday, Oct 21st to introduce new fans to you right off the bat!  Lots of publicity this year, lunch provided, and we're planning a community reception at the end of the day and working on at least a Peoples' Choice Award.


    NEW private ranches - they are fabulous, AND they want to cook for you!  Pictures coming later on the website.


    ~ Time for some speedy painting!  Competition Artists are special guests at the 64th Annual San Angelo Cinch Roping Fiesta, the longest running stand-alone roping event in the nation!  Enjoy & PAINT all Saturday afternoon at the event that brings in old-time big ranchers from all over the country.  They will be invited to the Sunday Chuck Wagon Breakfast where we will display ALL the Roping Paintings when the doors open at 9am (in addition to showcasing your other paintings for them at the Fort).


    Saturday Night we're planning an 'Artsy' Party at the Exhibits  - with live music, some craziness, and we're working with some of our younger doctors and friends to attract more new audiences to the event.


    ​A few more surprises are still in the works!  We are working hard to make 2017 even better.  Watch the website for updates, look over the itinerary, and we'll stay in touch.


    But, first you've got to apply by MAY 1st!


    We hope you'll be joining last year's top winners (and Invited Artists) Jason Sacran, Patrick Saunders, Shelby Keefe, ​and Jill Basham and help us make it another amazing EnPleinAirTEXAS in 2017!


    ​Have a great plein air season, and we hope to see you here in October.


    Barbara & the EPAT Gang

    ​ ​ 

    Check out the website - we have a new look!


    Barbara Rallo

    Coordinator/Co-Chair EnPleinAir TEXAS


    (325) 656-2500

  • February 24, 2017 3:01 PM | Irma Ward (Administrator)

    Registration is now open to attend the second annual ESPAFEST Plein Air Festival in Eureka Springs, Arkansas; May 21-25, 2017. In 2016 sixty artists from across the country came to Eureka Springs for four days of intense plein air painting in and around the beautiful town. This is the second annual ESPAfest features new locations and events.  Two pre- and post workshops are offered.   Click HERE for registration and information.  This event is hosted by the Eureka Springs School of Art.  

    Don't forget the OPS will visit Eureka Springs in October.  Be sure and register for that event, too.  

  • January 29, 2017 8:30 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    It’s with pleasure that I share with you the newest members to be awarded Master Signature status by the Outdoor Painters Society (OPS).

    Tina Bohlman, Diane Frossard, and Rusty Jones were elected by ballot vote of the entire Signature membership body in December.

    To qualify for this special recognition, all applicants must meet the following requirements to be considered: 1) Be a Signature member of OPS for the last five years. 2) Exhibited in the last three Plein Air Southwest Salons. 3) Received an award in three of the annual PASW  Salons.

    The Outdoor Painters Society has grown significantly over the years and has become an important part of the plein air community. It’s members come from many parts of the country and include some of the top names among plein air painters.

    I thought you’d be interested in learning more about these wonderful artists that have achieved this well-deserved recognition ~ John P.


  • September 06, 2016 12:18 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    I don’t remember when I first met Nancy Boren, but it was many years ago. I actually met her parents, Jim and Mary Ellen Boren, before I met her. It was in 1984 that I met them after being invited to go to Spain and Portugal for two weeks of painting with a group of amazing artists that annually participated in the Western Heritage Sale. They were on that trip.

    Jim Boren was the first art director of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. He provided expertise and leadership in assembling the Hall’s fine art collection and exhibits. In 1968, he became a member of the Cowboy Artists of America. His favorite medium was watercolor. So, Nancy grew up around art and the western themes painted by her father. Although she has found her own voice, the influence from her childhood remains. At this year’s Oil Painters of America National Show, Boren was a huge winner, taking the Bronze Medal and Artist’s Choice awards for her painting “Thunder on the Brazos.”

    Her greatest passion as an artist is figure painting. Although she has many interests and her painting subjects do vary, she’s most attracted to sunlight and often depicts her subjects in direct light. Three artists she would like to spend a day with are: Nicholai Fechin in Taos, Emily Carr in a British Columbia native coastal village, and Childe Hassam on Appledore Island.  


  • July 18, 2016 2:50 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    Kaye Franklin tries to convey in her paintings the beauty of this world. She hopes that is evident to the viewer. When she’s painting, especially en plein air, the world seems quiet. “I love the sounds of nature, the birds and all the animals,” she says. “God created this world for us to enjoy with peace.”

    About 40% of her landscape and garden work is done en plein air. She feels that the best plein air paintings are done totally on site. “When you bring a painting inside to work on it, you will loose the freshness, spontaneity, and truth of the painting. Making a painting work is not about recording facts,” Franklin says. “You can always add a shape from outside the line of vision. You can bring in a tree, a rock, or anything  that works. I find the best compositions are not always right in front of you; for me, I have to design the scene in a way that makes the best painting.”

    On the days she’s not teaching, she’ll spend three hours painting in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. She grows her own flowers and tries to paint in the garden as often as possible. In addition to her weekly classes she also teaches an occasional workshop. If she could hang out with three artists of the past for just one day, her choices would be Joaquin Sorolla, Edgar Payne, and Sergei Bongart. Her three favorite books are: Brushwork, Emile Gruppe; The Scenic Journey, Edgar Payne; Everything I Know About Painting by Richard Schmid.

    Kaye Franklin is a terrific painter. She quietly gives, quietly serves…no fanfare, no beating her own drum…but so deserving of the many accolades she’s received. Recognized as a Signature Member of the Oil Painters of America and the American Impressionist Society, she also has attained Master status in the Pastel Society of America, American Women Artists, and most recently, the Outdoor Painters Society. What an honor it is to have her agree to this interview.   CLICK HERE to continue.....


  • July 01, 2016 8:26 AM | Anonymous



    1. Travel Light and Get Creative with Your Choice of Materials

    Firstly, jettison anything from your painting box that you don’t really need. Ask yourself, do you need any army of brushes when painting studies on location, or just one or two? Or even any brushes at all? Is it possible to create a painting using found materials?


    2. Simplify Your Palette

    Limited palettes rule when it comes to travelling light. I use just five colours: Burnt Umber, Cadmium Yellow, Phthalo Green, Winsor Blue and Titanium White. A careful consideration of chosen colours before setting out can be beneficial, but so can working with the few colours that you already have with you. Don’t forget that you can mix your own greens, and the fewer colours you use the more harmonious the result.


    3. Use Found Water

    Unless you are painting in the middle of a desert, there is really no need to carry heavy painting water. It's usually pretty easy to find a supply of water on site for your painting needs, including rivers, streams, the sea, rain-filled puddles, a local service station, shops and restaurants.

    The added bonus of 'found' water is that it is local to your painting location, tying your work to its surroundings. And don't worry about the seawater longevity myth; after all, Turner used seawater for many of his coastal water colours and they still look good!


    4. Collect and Use Found Items

    I always carry a small handful of freezer type bags when painting outdoors. These are for collecting found materials for later use and inspiration. When painting on the coast, for instance, these bags may well contain shells, sand, seaweed, driftwood and other beach paraphernalia. Painting in the city, my bag contains packaging, discarded tickets and paper ephemera. You’ll find similar useful and enriching materials in forest and mountain settings. And when you return to the studio, revisiting these items will transport you back to your outdoor location, readying you for indoor work.

    Found items can all be used to create interesting textures and make your work more visually compelling. For an artistic challenge, try creating a piece of art on location using only such materials. I often use this technique to get my creativity flowing.


    5. Use Your Smart Phone to Capture a Visual Reference

    Take a camera or smart phone with you when painting en plein air. Painted studies capture atmosphere as no photograph ever could, but a camera can capture details in an instant. Using a photograph as a visual reference for your painting can ensure consistency in your work in the face of changes in climate and the like.


    6. Use Easily Portable Cases to Transport Supplies

    A good Pochade box can be really useful, not only for packing your items but also to act as a small easel. And for larger plein air work, a box easel, sometimes called a French easel, is fantastic.


    7. Don’t Wear Sunglasses Whilst Painting 
    Though you may be contending with bright sun at times, sunglasses alter colour balance and can therefore affect how you perceive and use your palette. Wear a hat to insure against this effect and protect yourself from the elements.

  • April 12, 2016 7:11 AM | Anonymous

    *Follow link below for all pictures and complete write up





    In Texas, one lively plein air group had a Christmas party that looked like a lot of fun. And everyone went home with a new piece of art.


    The Outdoor Painters Society held a Christmas lunch and a painting swap in the Dallas area that fueled quite a bit of conversation online and off. “This event is everyone’s favorite of the year with fun, food, and camaraderie,” says Randy Saffle, the vice president of the OPS. “Members bring an 8”-x-10” painting (unframed) wrapped in plain brown paper. After lunch, the fun begins when we start the ‘Chinese Gift Game’ with the unidentified paintings. We draw numbers out of a hat from one to whatever. The artist with #1 picks a painting from the stack and unwraps it.


    “Then the fun begins. The next person can ‘steal’ that painting or open another. A painting can be traded two more times before it is out of the game and belongs to that person. The trading leads to some spirited exchanges that sometimes includes pleading and begging. This year one artist even reminded everyone that the painting she opened was from an artist with the same name as her deceased mother! Even that didn’t work and the painting was ripped from her hands anyway, but it did provide a big laugh. The party and exchange has been a longtime traditional activity, and dozens of OPS members have quite a collection of originals as a result of participating in this game over the years. This year 28 paintings were swapped and found new homes.”



Outdoor Painters Society™ 

All images on this site are copyrighted.
All rights reserved.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software