5 Minutes with en plein air artist Barbara Benedict

jpaprocki@islandpacket.comNovember 16, 2012 

The Beach House by Barbara Benedict


  • "Lowcountry, Plein Air -- Impressions of the Lowcountry" runs through Jan. 6 at the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island.

    The Low Country Plein Air group is seeking members and places to paint. Details: Barbara Benedict, 216-225-8251

Plein air painting sure can mean a lot of traveling.

Working en plein air, or in plain air, is the practice of painting outside to capture a scene as accurately as possible. But before the first brush strokes are made, the right spot has to be found. And that can require some work.

The Low Country Plein Air Society travels the county and beyond to paint. An exhibit of its most recent work is shown through Jan. 6 at the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island.

Founding member Barbara Benedict discusses the perfect place to paint.

Question. What is the exhibit like?

Answer. We have about 22 artists with about 70 paintings or so. They are all plein air paintings. What is interesting about this exhibit is that we do highlight our styles. For instance, three of us went out one day and painted the same scene at the same time of day. All of the paintings are exhibited together in the show. You can really see the contrasts in style, design, brushstroke, color.

Q. Where was that?

A. It's called oyster alley. It's a boardwalk that goes out into the marsh behind Honey Horn. Just about all these paintings are local scenes. They're marshes, buildings. There's that little yellow convenience store (in Pritchardville). There's places in Savannah and Beaufort.

Q. Do you often find big contrasts when artists are painting the same scene?

A. No two painters paint alike. People see things differently, even when it comes to things like color. The whole idea behind plein air painting is that it captures a point in time. ... One member said, "Our paintings capture that fleeting moment when light, atmosphere and emotion become one and heighten all senses."

Q. Where do you decide to paint? Do you send out scouts?

A. We have people who take responsibility to find a place. Yes, we do scout. We check out places. I have a 3-year-old car, and I have more than 60,000 miles on it. I'm always running around looking for a place to paint that is different.

Q. What is at the top of your of places you'd like to paint?

A. I'd like to go up to Charleston and visit a plantation. Some of the islands around Savannah would be nice. Hunting Island would be a beautiful place to paint. There are a lot of great places around here to paint en plein air.


Low Country Plein Air Society

Coastal Discovery Museum

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