May 22, 2009

Outdoor painting class culminates in exhibit, sale

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale Professor Emeritus Robert Paulson is part of the scenery again in Southern Illinois, as he and his Plein-Air landscape class take to the vistas with paints and easels in hand.

Paulson talked last year of retirement and of “last class” -- but the popular outdoor painting class is back, with students dotting the hills around Alto Pass and Blueberry Hill in Cobden as they practice interpreting in art what their eyes see.

The class concludes with an exhibit and sale from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on May 29 at the Surplus Gallery in the Old Glove Factory (432 S. Washington Ave., Carbondale). There is no admission charge.

Paulson said this year the students are painting at least one landscape on a different kind of canvas. He said each student will paint a landscape T-shirt.

“At least one T-shirt should be available at the sale, but I think some of the students will keep their shirts,” he said, explaining that the students may sell any of the paintings they create during the class and have the option of donating the proceeds to the SIU Foundation to help keep the Plein-Air class on the School of Art and Design schedule.

Plein-Air, or en plein air, is a French expression and refers to painting, particularly landscapes, outdoors. One advantage is that artists are able to make use of natural light for their paintings. Several staples of modern painting, including paint in tubes and portable box easels, developed as outdoor painting increased in popularity during the late 1800s.