Painting by Natural Light

Gallery 104 to offer exhibit of
plein air works by 12 artists

Approximately 30 original
landscapes will be on display

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (March 2011) – A fresher, honest painting is what you get with painting in plein air, according to local artist Beverly Bruntz. She prefers the visual image one gets with this medium that was popularized in the 1870s.
Plein air is a French expression meaning “in the open air,” which is literally how plein air artists paint. “I like being outside,” said Bruntz. “Kentucky has beautiful landscapes.”

Coomes and Williams

Photo provided

From left, Liz Coomes and Evonne
Williams paint during a recent plein
air painting event in Oldham County.

She said the visual image you get with a plein air painting contains details that can’t be captured through a photograph and then transferred to canvas. It can only be acquired while painting on the spot.
Bruntz, 48, has painted in oils, but mostly creates smaller works in plein air. During the wintertime she will take some of these same images and paint them on a larger scale in her studio.
Bruntz will be part of a group of twelve plein air artists who are taking part in a new exhibit at Gallery 104 in La Grange. “Painting Oldham County in Plein Air” will hang in the gallery from March 22 to May 14. An Opening Reception is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, March 25.
Approximately 30 pieces are in the exhibit, said Angie Campbell, exhibit organizer. Several of the artists have either been students of Campbell or have works currently hanging in Gallery 104.
While all artists may not be from Oldham County, all have painted within the county in the last year, said Campbell. As a movement, plein air is coming back, she said. “The movement started in the 1800s, and there are several groups around. It is big in California.”
Plein air has its roots in Impressionism, a style of painting common in the mid-19th century. Plein air increased in popularity with the introduction of paints in tubes, whereas artists had previously had to grind and mix their own pigment powders with linseed oil.
The Box Easel, a highly portable easel, was invented during this time as well. Its telescopic legs and built-in paint box and palette made painting in plein air a desirable medium.
Many modern artists choose to paint in plein air because “it is a whole different atmosphere,” Campbell said. “The light changes constantly, and you have to paint much faster than you would in a studio setting. You don’t have as much time to spend on each piece. Plus, it gets you outside.”
Working in natural light appeals to artists such as Bruntz. She will have three pieces in the exhibit: “Main Street La Grange,” “Summer’s Bounty,” and “Sunflower Fields.”
Bruntz was trained in a studio, receiving her Masters in Art from California State University, Fullerton. She worked in commercial art as a graphic designer until about five years ago when she decide to paint full time.
Her family is originally from Somerset, Ky and she moved to CA after college. She moved back to Kentucky in 2009, settling near Bagdad in Shelby County, Ky to be closer to her family in Oldham County. She said she likes being close to Louisville, without actually living in Louisville.
“I enter quite a few shows a year,” said Bruntz, who has been juried into nationwide and regional shows. She exhibits locally when she can and has her work in galleries in Louisville and Lexington.
“I like to paint rural, more open spaces,” she said. If she can get access to private property, she likes to paint landscapes. Because colors are different in natural light than under studio lighting, her work has an exhilarating, lively feeling to it.
“I enjoy painting scenery up close and personal,” she said.

• For more information, contact Angie Campbell at (502) 222-1698 or Gallery 104 at (502) 222-3822.

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