Plein Air for the Love of God

Plein Air for the Love of God

I’ve talked about my painting class on this blog before. It’s something I really enjoy and have appreciated as a creative outlet because it spills over into every aspect of my life. It very much primes my creative pump. Having a regular outlet for creativity makes a creative spring that flows forth like a fountain into every area of life.

Plein Air means Open Air

Plein Air means Open Air
My art teacher has taken up plein air painting with the class. In essence, it’s painting outside, which kind of feels like you’re walking about naked in public. You don’t have any of the controls of a studio, but all the vulnerability of being at the mercy of nature. This past weekend was my first attempt.

There’s such a huge difference between painting in the studio and painting outside. Maybe the largest leap is psychological. You literally have everything stimulating you rather than having a controlled environment. In a studio, you have a set subject, fixed lighting, and climate controls – everything is controlled. In plein air painting, anything goes. I may have to explore this topic at a later date. But today I want to talk about my maiden voyage into plein air. In a word: horrible. It was like stepping off a ship to explore mars.

Elementary Plein Air

Elementary Plein Air
First of all, my painting looks like it came from an elementary school. Not that there’s any problem with the artwork coming from elementary school children, but I’ve been taking oil painting classes weekly since 2010. I would’ve thought it might have looked a little better, but it didn’t. The next day I pulled out all my plein air painting gear and tried to paint from my porch. The result was equally horrible. I’m not proud of this, but I quickly trashed both paintings as if they were evidence in a crime scene. I asked the Lord, “What was it that happened?” His answer came immediately. “Do it for the love of Me.” Whoa!

I stepped into a new situation, with an old presence of the Lord. I shortchanged Him and me. This is utterly fascinating to me. Not only does it relate to new wine in old wine skins, but also to everything I’ve learned from the book The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence said, “It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.” Wow! Everything has to be done for the love of God. Brother Lawrence would say every job, no matter how mundane or routine, could be a place to express love for God, even plein air painting.

Plein Air with Jesus

Plein Air with Jesus
I’m excited to see what the Lord will come up with in my next plein air experience. I will go out to encounter Him. I won’t be doing a task; I’ll be enjoying the Lord. It won’t be producing a masterpiece; it will be fellowship with the Master. I’ll be able to look at His creation and intimately meet Him. That just takes all the pressure off of everything. The focus will be to love Him. I will paint for the love of God.

Your every action must be done with love.
1 Corinthians 16:14 HCSB

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    • Sam

      If we would just approach every task as Brother Lawrence did… what a joy.


    • Sue

      Oh John, you have expressed this in a way that I can easily understand. Do everything for the LOVE OF GOD>
      How filled with wonder and precious to perceive. May your next PLEIN AIR be most blessed!!!!!!

    • Wanda

      That’s awesome. Doing everything for fellowship with God takes off the pressure. Thank you, John

    • Kathy

      My new motto: Praise then Paint; in that order.

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