Plein Air Painting Indoors

MORRO BAY You’ve probably seen artists here on the Central Coast outdoors with their easels and paints on any given day. What are they doing? Well, it is obvious that they are painting, and the terminology for how they are doing this is “Plein Air.”

Plein air painting takes the artist out of the studio to experience painting in the landscape. French Impressionists desired to paint light and its changing qualities and in the process of bringing their paint tubes and easels outside they enjoyed the freedom of painting “en plein air” which in French means “in the open air.”

So, perhaps the title of the two-day workshop with local plein air artist Ken Christensen that the Morro Bay Art Association is offering is a bit of a misnomer Plein Air Painting Indoors. Christensen, who is a classic, on-site painter in the French Impressionist and Fauvist style will present techniques in this workshop that can be used by any artist indoors or out.

Fauvism is a style of painting that flourished in France at the beginning of the 20th century and artists then used brilliant colors, applied straight from their paint tubes. Christensen paints with the vision, color, and verve of such painters as Van Gogh, Vlaminck, Marquet and Derain and with the American perspective of Hopper and Benton. He is the founder of The New Fauves and is committed to propagating this style of the great French Fauve artists.

Christensen attended Michigan State University where he earned his bachelor’s in arts in History. He participated in an overseas study program at Bedford College, London and attended the University of Manchester in England. He pursued a career as a freelance artist and writer for a newspaper in Traverse City, Mich., but later returned to Europe going on a long bicycle across Holland, Belgium, and France. He settled in Sollies-Pont on the Cote d’Azur and later moved to Paris. While there, he took drawing classes at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and became an official copyist at the Louvre Museum. While living in Europe, Christensen shifted from watercolor to oils, experimenting in other techniques, primarily monoprints and block prints.

In 1986 he moved to San Sebastian, Spain, where he continued to paint and taught English at a private academy. He eventually returned to the United States and settled in Los Osos, where he now resides.

In this workshop, Christensen will discuss the use of supplies, pallet color and the impressionistic Fauve style of painting. He will demonstrate brushwork and the use of strident colors while discussing the subject matter.

The cost of the workshop is $165 for members and $175 for non-members. The workshop is appropriate for beginner to advanced and takes place Feb. 8 and 9 from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Pre-registration is required at or Cancellations up to 10 days prior to scheduled workshop for a full refund. For more information, call 805-772-2504. The Art Center Morro Bay is located at 835 Main St., Morro Bay.


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