The introduction of plein air painting in the late 1800s was possible due to the invention of two items we take for granted today: the French easel and paint in tubes. Imagine the delight of Monet and his comrades during their first experiences painting out of doors. Unchained from their studios, they could respond to the spectacle of sparkling sunlight or the touch of a breeze on their skin.
With anything new, there is some trepidation and questioning. For instance, could the paint dry out in the tubes before a work was finished? How stable would the easel be? Will the artist be able to finish a work before the sunlight changed? As time went by, the answers became clear and these changes were seen for the improvements in painting that they were.
On Friday, July 7, from 1-5PM, Andrew Theophilopoulos, an artist from Sarasota, Florida will present an event at the Art School that challenges the tradition of plein air painting. Titled "Finding the Future of Painting in Photoshop," the artist will paint digitally with a tablet and Photoshop software. The value of the digital bent to the genre has initiated plenty of debate in recent years.
To help you make informed decisions, we've placed Theophilopolous' oil and digital paintings of the same subject matter side-by-side for your comparison in our current exhibition, Painting with Pixels. A video in the gallery also shows him at work. With a small keyboard communicating Photoshop shortcuts at his hip, and a stylus in hand, he may appear to be an artistic outlaw. Don't be fooled. Theophilopoulos will act as a gentle guide for the event, which will include a lecture, demos and hands-on experience for the attendees.
Occurring just prior to our 2017 Door County Plein Air Festival, July 23 - 29, where Featured Artists will utilize traditional media, the digital event provides a glimpse into the future of the genre. It also harkens to plein air's past, with all its controversy and excitement.