Four years ago, 12 individual artists came together to form the Plein Air Artists of Riverside (PAAR) in affiliation with the Riverside Art Museum. Since then, the group has grown to 75 members and is active painting on location throughout the Inland Empire, the Southern California coast, as well as the desert.
This past year, PAAR has painted many of the long-standing and newly renovated California Missions, and they continue to add more missions to their collection. Each year, PAAR holds a 9 day Paint Out followed by an exhibit and juried show. The exhibit here collects the artists’ best work painted only days prior to the opening of the show, created between February 21st – February 28th, 2009. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of this building designed by Julia Morgan, a number of paintings were created featuring the building itself and its incarnation as the Riverside Art Museum. Other repeated themes include local venues including the celebrated Mission Inn. The works themselves are varied and exciting, a taster’s feast of styles, mediums, and color choices.
The objective of a Plein Air artist is to capture the light as it falls on their subject using sight, sound, atmosphere, and temperature to reflect a moment in time while processing this on paper or canvas. Artists accomplish this in a very short amount of time. This tradition dates back to the 19th century where painters such as John Constable used his plein air sketches to paint huge paintings in his studio. Claude Monet and Eduard Degas traditionally painted on location using a theory that what you saw in nature was not form but rather light on form and that light could be conveyed through color. This light is the true theme of this exhibit, so expertly captured in its delicate, fleeting beauty.