En plein air (French for 'outdoors') or plein air painting is simply, the act of paining outdoors rather than in a studio. In the mid 1800's artists began to bring their supplies outside with the advent of tubes of oil paint. Prior to this artists had to mix raw materials and pigments to get their desired colors so it would be very hard to bring all the needed supplies into the wild with you. But artists like Claude Money, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and others began to practice plein air painting as a way to paint nature exactly as it was observed. This allowed for the artists to capture the lighting and shadows and changing of colors more accurately.
Fast forwarding to 1891 - Janet Ralston Chase Hoyt, wife of William Hoyt, was a philanthropist, developer and artist who was one of the many new summer residents of Southampton. She developed a desire to start a summer art school in Southampton, specifically focused on painting the natural landscapes. She would hire William Merritt Chase to be the director of this new art school and would secure funding from Annie de Gamp Perrot Hegeman Porter, wife of Henry Kirke Porter, and our very own Samuel L. Parrish. Land was acquired and a art studio built along with a few residential cottages in what would become known as "Art Village."
The Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art would begin in 1891 before the studio or cottages had been completed but was a success from the start and would remain in operation until 1902 when Chase decided to return to spending his summers in Europe rather than Southampton.
Today plein air painting is alive and well with many local Southampton artists still practicing the art form and now it is your chance to join them! This summer we are lucky to have artist and teacher Howard Rose join us for six classes to be hosted at our various historic properties where you will be able to get an introduction to plein air painting. These classes are perfect for the expert artist and beginner alike. Classes are limited to 15 students per class and you can sign up for one or all six. You can RSVP by clicking the links below, hope to see you all soon!