The Plein Air Scene

by Sarah Beserra

Scott Burdick, Sarah in Catalina, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches


Plein Air Out of State

By Majorie Clearwater


I formed the Snake River Plein Air Painters in 1998 for a couple of reasons: 1) to salvage what was left of the wonderful inspiration and guidance from the great teachers and 2) to do something about "Idaho artists painting Idaho scenery". We have wonderful scenery in Idaho, and to me the artists seem to overlook painting it. Many trek over the hill to the Tetons, and, although fantastic, Idaho has many. many great painterly places. The concept is working. Our recent show had a 72% increase in attendance and sales more than tripled! We're on our way! Sure, we're still small compared to California standards - but we're a small, rural state. The Snake River Plein Air Painters are now four years old. Several of us are old time students of Sergei Bongart, the Russian master of color. In fact, our local art association (in Idaho Falls) was responsible for introducing him to Idaho. He came, gave a workshop, and ended up buying property and making an Idaho studio within spitting distance of Idaho Falls.

Another artist who came in the old days to teach landscape painting was Milford Zornes, followed by Gerald Merfeld. In those days we didn't call it plein air painting - it was landscape painting - and the only way you did it was to go out in the field...NOT paint from photos! Another name folks kinda know is Ovanes Berberian who lives very near Bongart's old, now deserted place. Ovanes is carrying on the plein air tradition. We're trying to revive interest in the grand old tradition of plein air painting before we have to close up our paint boxes. It is difficult to get painters to get off their butts and out of the studio (and those damn photographs! ! !).

For more on the Snake River Plein Air Painters contact: Majorie Clearwater, PO Box 335, Ucon, ID 83454, (208)-523-2161.


© Sarah Beserra, 2001

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Sarah Beserra is Editor and Publisher of The Plein Air Scene - a monthly newsletter on plein air painting in Northern California. You may contact Sarah at or (707) 645-7361

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