I began drawing at the age of 10. I fell in love with anything that would make marks on paper. I worked my way through half a dozen Walter T. Foster “How To Draw” books over the next couple of years, and then I discovered oil paints! My dad had an old set in storage that he gave me “to play around with”. I loved it! When I was 12 I got a new set of oil paints for Christmas and some canvas boards to paint on. Everything about painting took me someplace magical. The following summer I entered my first painting competition and won first prize in my age group. I also sold 2 paintings. I then realized that art was my path to riches! HA!
Fast forward 20 years to the opening of my first gallery. That was how I met the artists that would take me to the next level in my work. After some coaxing, I joined a group of “Alla Prima” painters at the St Louis Artists Guild’s Thursday night sessions. I fell in love with art all over again. What a great group of talented artists.That’s where I met Billyo O’Donnell, arguably Missouri’s favorite son of Plein Air painting. He talked me into going along with him to paint along the River Road near Grafton. We spent the whole day in the midst of some of the most beautiful vistas in the area, and a new love was born. Plein Air painting was now in my blood. It combined 2 of my favorite things on earth; painting, and the outdoors.
Billyo and I would go on to paint together many times, and under every weather condition you could imagine. We painted in freezing rain, in snow, in summer heat, fighting gnats and mosquitoes and chigger bites. All the things that Plein Air painters face as simply a part of the process, and learn to take in stride. It was around that time that a small group of us had begun meeting every Sunday to paint together, that we hit on the idea of forming a local group to encourage this style of painting in the St Louis area. Along with Billyo and myself, our little group included wonderful painters like Henryk Ptasiewicz, Jason Dowd, Richard Bernal, Shawn Cornell, and David Huth. We formed the group “MOPAPA” (Missouri Plein Air Painters Association”, and began planning outings/meetups, and events in the area like “The Forest Park Paint-Out” and the “Artists Along The Katy Trail” events. Many other artists became regulars at the meet ups, and continue to paint together in the area even now, some 20 years later.
Plein Air painting is rightly considered as a unique form of art, with organizations and events worldwide. If you love the outdoors, and you love painting, and the fellowship of artists, you will certainly love Plein Air painting, and all that it brings.
Sincerely yours with pallet, brush, Deep Woods Off, French easel, and umbrella,