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John Stobart was the first ever recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual Plein Air Painters of America Convention on April 11th.


We thought it would be fitting to share the following excerpt reprinted from

John Stobart’s August, 1988 Palette Scrapings newsletter:


There is nothing quite as satisfying for an artist specializing in outdoor subjects as success with a spontaneous outdoor sketch completed on-site either in watercolor or oil. Our friend watercolorist Bert Wright, an accomplished outdoor painter, and other close artist friends in the same fraternity who are worried about my long shelved activity in the field, have finally persuaded me to return to this rewarding exercise after many years of abstinence.


The plain fact is that painting on-site, despite difficulties, is where an enormous amount is learned; one’s observational capacity is tested along with one’s ability to paint clearly and definitely what is seen. This develops a talent for spontaneity and directness of stroke that doesn’t happen in the studio. Outdoor paintings are looser by nature than carefully worked (often overworked) studio canvases, detail being traded for a spontaneous impression of the mood of the day. To quote from the daily diary of the esteemed French painter Eugene Boudin:


Everything painted directly on the spot has a strength vigor and vivacity of touch that can never be attained in the studio. Three brush strokes from nature are worth more than two days studio work at the easel.”


Battling with the elements-the wind and the rain, the rapid changes of light as the sun changes those very cast shadows that originally turned you on, the flies that get stuck in the pigment, the big trucks that barrel by creating dust clouds, naturally inquisitive kids who ask “what are you doing?” when it surely must be obvious, the people who ask embarrassing questions as to how much it would cost to acquire your work before it’s even developed, - particularly those who equate fine painting with detail and have some difficulty comprehending the purpose behind the direct looseness of the spontaneous effect, all these elements tend to inhibit the undivided concentration a quick result demands.


To succeed with outdoor work therefore requires a special drive which must overcome being isolated among nature’s moods. It also requires a personal dedication beyond the norm, and an ability to communicate one’s vision without expecting it to be appreciated by others, knowing that there will not be too many, other than one’s peers, who will appreciate the disclosure of the artists true personal characteristics (those vital intrinsic elements that make one artist different from all others) that on-site painting reveals.



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