Plein air is a term derived from the French phrase "en plein air", which literally means 'in the open air'.
The term has become quite common in the present day, but in the 1800s when the Impressionists headed outdoors into nature to study the effects of sunlight at different times of the day in the landscape, it was a revolutionary idea. There is something magical about learning to paint en plein air. Whether you're a true beginner or a professional plein air painter, our study of nature and our growth as a painter can be a lifelong pursuit if you let it.
We operate plein air painting mini-workshops, workshop tours, classes and events in various locations in and around Petaluma, in most regions of California and several locations throughout the USA and abroad. We are committed to fostering the plein air community within our local community and abroad through cultural exchange. We are also committed to engaging and inspiring others with our personalized approach and with a particularly strong emphasis on low impact travel so as not to be "intrusive tourists." We take pride in our high operating standards for providing socially responsible tours and a dedication to sustainable tourism.
Our various workshops, demonstrations, lectures, tours, and classes provide the student with generous training by experienced professional artists, while ensuring that the students' needs are being met and that their accommodations are comfortable and enjoyable.
Our primary focus is on painting from life. Our workshops take place on location painting landscapes, seascapes, village, town or city scenes and a model or still-life outdoors. In case of inclement weather, we'll either have indoor models or still-life setups with either artificial or natural light or an outdoor sheltered area for protection.
Our PAL instructors and Guest Instructors strive to teach newcomers as well as experienced painters their own approach to painting en plein air. Our teachers concentrate on working individually with students in order to maximize individual learning. Students come away more aware of surroundings, the effect of light and its movement, color shifts of warm and cool, and how design occurs naturally. Our instructors’ focus is utilizing value, color, soft and hard edges, using the correct color palette for the conditions of the day and time, simplifying nature and seeing the big shapes, and various visual approaches to aid in producing a successful painting.
For the advanced student that has a firm grasp of the mechanics of painting, our instructors will demonstrate the important elements of mood, passion, and attitude that make a good painting even better. Our students will learn to see the big picture, knowing exactly what it is he or she is trying to achieve with their painting. In our workshops and classes, students will have the benefit of working with an exceptional instructor. Our goal is to not only provide our students with the highest caliber of instruction but also inspiration and a maintained level of excitement for painting that will carry them far beyond their PAL experience.
We're a 45 minute drive north of the GoldenGate bridge.
PAL | ATELIER | 250 Water Street, Petaluma, CA 94952